The only thing I ever think of flowing from a volcano is lave, not water!
But Volcán Maderas is different.
As a long extinct volcano it is lush with vegetation, and an abundance of natural spring water (they even bottle it on the island for local sale).
The Island of Ometepe possesses a variety of natural resources that are ideal for eco-tourism and adventure tourism. It is no wonder that in 2009, Ometepe Island was nominated to participate in a contest for the seven wonders of the world! The Island has a lake, beaches, rivers, lagoons, volcanoes, and waterfalls. Enough to catalog it as one of the most complete tourist destinations in the world!
The San Ramón Waterfall is located in the South-Western section of the island, at about 1000 meters (3250 feet) above sea level, on the flank of Volcán Maderas, and roughly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the town that gives it its name, San Ramón.
The waterfall is roughly 30 meters (100 feet) in height. There are several routes to get to the waterfall. The most common option visitors take is to start from the Biological Station. This route can be conquered on foot from the water’s edge, or with the option of driving your vehicle half way up and then make the rest of the journey on foot. A car, truck or 4-wheeler is recommended as many fall off of their scooters and motorcycles rental on the way down (see our comments on our ‘Transportation’ page). And many also choose to rent horses in San Ramón or Mérida and take the horse almost all the way up!
It is a very refreshing journey through the UNESCO Bio-Sphere protected Rain Forest. If you start at the Biological Station the first section of the journey you wind your way through citrus and avocado orchards with breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Nicaragua, Volcán Concepción, and Volcán Maderas.
After passing through the orchards you will find yourself walking through a dense wet tropic forest blanketed with many lianas, orchids, and bromeliads. Many tropical and migrating birds flutter around in the trees over your head, with troops of Capuchin and Howler monkeys lounging in the branches, or howling off in the distance. This forest is also home to the most recently discovered species of salamander, known only to exist on Volcán Maderas!
The last stage of your journey to the falls is fairly steep, walking through active streams, climbing hand and foot over rocks, and under roots (yes, under, although no crawling needed). Some people find themselves unprepared, and discouraged as a result. Those who persevere are richly rewarded upon arrival at the base of this beautiful work of nature.
You can rest on the rocks, take some amazing photographs, and even swim in the natural pool as the waterfall cascades down upon you. This is a great place for a picnic lunch before your journey back down.
Expect to pay $3 per person at the Biological Station and an additional $3 per vehicle should you decide to drive up half way. No guide is needed if you leave from here, as the trail is well carved and marked. A bonus of starting from here is that they offer a public restroom, and a restaurant where you can purchase bottled water.
We recommend you take a guide if you start from any other starting point, as there are trails that wind all over and around Volcán Maderas, and you could easily get lost. You should always take plenty of drinking water. A minimum of 1 liter per person is recommended. The total journey can be expected to take 3-4 hours or more if you decide to relax at the falls longer.
The trail, especially the last section leading up to the falls, can be muddy and slippery. Appropriate footwear is necessary, and proper attire for climbing up and over rocks and through small streams is needed. You can talk to guides through many of the local fincas, or Hari's Horses to rent horses and ride up in style!
Al in, this is a great hike for those who want to see it all, or are not looking to push themselves for a climb all the way to the top!