Cañón de Somoto

This weekend I went with a friend to Cañón de Somoto, a canyon that was formed over 5 million years ago but was not discovered until 2004! (well, the local people that lived there have known about it forever… but no one else really knew about its existence).

Aaannyyway… we stayed at a very rustic hostal, located at the mouth of the canyon, owned and ran by a small community/neighborhood and took a 6 hour/12k hiking tour through the canyon… the trek had us swimming through pools, climbing rocks, jumping off cliffs, walking into caves filled with bats, and it was stunning. breathtaking. Imagine swimming face up and looking the sky high up above you through two walls of solid rock… as you are swimming the wind shakes leaves loose off trees up above which rain down on you like soft specks of gold…

Some highlights of the trip here below:

Picture of the super dry landscape as we traveled north, this is a region of Nicaragua (and Honduras) called “corredor seco” or the dry passage…IMG_8888 The town of Somoto is super cute and tiny… it is known for its rosquillas (little corn and cheese cookies) and donkeys! (donkeeeyyys!!!) – I have noticed that a lot of Nicaragua is very religious, and christianity permeates most aspects of life here (radio talk, car talk, infrastructure, social structures, even climate change talk! seriously) we happened to walk past a procession for some saint… they were walking with the statue of the saint in front chanting and praying on their way to the cathedral.IMG_8894 View of the hostal that we stayed in, and the very comfortable hammocks out front…the temperature was about 22C and apparently that’s cold here in Nica.. hahaIMG_8896 desayuno “tipico” – or gallo pinto, which is the staple for most households here.  Rice and red beans, maduros (plantains), eggs, fresh cheese, tortillas and coffee… these tortillas are the freshest I have EVER had… the lady from the hostal gets up every morning at 4:30AM, takes the maize to the local mill, grinds the maize into cornmeal, and then makes the tortillas by hand… when we asked how she made it she said that she cooks them in a pan with ash from the fire and a little water and a little lime (not the fruit, but lime that you use to build bridges and stuff)… hmm… ok?IMG_8903 walking to the canyon we came across fields of corn, beans, sorghum and even some coffee intercropped with bananas! This is not the coffee region, and some of the trees had some red cherries, even though the harvest season is already over!IMG_8909 first view of the river… IMG_8912 you can already see the canyon beginning to formIMG_8914 a bat cave! we saw so many bats flying from crevices in the rocks… they were sort of cute… IMG_8927 water and rocks and fallen treesIMG_8938 there were many stretches of the hike were the only way through was swimming… by the end of the hike my shoulders were beginning to ache… I also remembered how hard it is to swim and what a great workout it is!IMG_8939The canyon forms when two rivers meet to make the Rio Coco, the longest river in Central America… this is the exact point where these two rivers meet… we were about 500 meters away from Honduras at this point.
IMG_8944 Panoramic of the place where the rivers meetIMG_8946 Alex and I after a jump off a rock.. Alex is also a grad student doing her thesis with CIAT…she has been in Nica for 6 months and will be leaving back to Germany in a week… she has been great at helping me get out of the house to explore nica with her a little bit… IMG_8958 I can’t even begin to tell you how stunning this place is… picture (and phone pictures at that!) cannot begin to make this place justiceIMG_8964 IMG_8977 the rock walls of the canyonIMG_8979 another part of the canyon that could only be passed by swimming through it… IMG_8998After a jump I sat by a rock in the water and watched as some crazy people jumped off a 20 meter cliff… 
IMG_9003 Heart be stillIMG_9007 at this point, we left the canyon on a row boatIMG_9012
still images from a video that the guide took as I was jumping off a cliffIMG_9025 IMG_9026