Imagine gently gliding through the smooth waters of Lago Cocibolca, Nicaragua’s largest lake, at the magical hour of sunset. As the local fishermen are throwing out their nets for the next morning catch and the school children are paddling home on dinghies from a long day at school. Imagine being the only passenger on a 20-seater boat with a Spanish-speaking fisherman steering the way.
That is where I found myself a few weeks ago at the end of my epic day of touring Granada on foot. In the serendipitous calm of the deep blue waters of Lago Cocibolca freckled in streaks of orange, purple and pink. Just me, my driver and the “Guapotona“, the “handsome tuna”
How did I feel in this beautiful place that nourished my tired soul after a long day discovering the treasures of Granada? At utter peace.
Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) is the largest lake in Central America, covering an area of 3,191 square miles ( 8,264 km2). It is home to many islands small and large, with the biggest most well-known island being Ometepe and the smallest group called Las Isletas which are off the shore of Granada.
When the mighty Mombacho Volcano erupted over 20,000 years ago, it blasted huge rocks into Lago Cocibolca which resulted in the formation of 365 small islands known as Las Isletas. Las Isletas can be reached via boat or kayak from Puerto Asese in Granada, and today are home to a community of over 1,200 locals and expats as well as hundreds of species of birds.
As I glided into the lake just before sunset, I was amazed by the hundreds of snowy white egrets I saw. I also saw pelicans, cormorants, parrots, hawks and numerous colorful birds that I could not name.
I felt like I was on an expedition into a magical land of the unknown. I had no idea what to expect given I booked my tour entirely in broken Spanish. Perhaps that was half the fun of the adventure. Not knowing exactly what I’d find.
I admit I was shocked and somewhat disappointed to see that many of the islets were developed. Local fishermen and their families live on some of the islets alongside very wealthy Nicaraguans and expats. Some of the elaborate homes took up almost the entire island.
I’m not sure what the environmental impact of all this development is on the abundant wildlife in the area but I’m sure it can’t be good. I tried to research more on the topic but came up with nothing. It was hard to crop out the electrical wires linking islet to islet, from my photos. I can only imagine how pristine Las Isletas once were before all the development. It made me rather sad.
As sunset neared, the warm humid air kissed my face as we sailed through the calm waters. It was the golden hour, that magical time of day when you feel so incredibly good to be alive.
“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator”. – Mahatma Gandhi
I remember my favorite words of Rabindranath Tagore. If only I could take all this sensational color and bottle it up for later. Instead, it will remain here as a memory.
This post was written as part of Travel + Social Good, a community of change makers united by a love of exploration and doing good. Every month, a group of dedicated travel journalists and bloggers will share stories about sustainable travel. To follow along on Twitter search #travelgood.