Kayaking Along the Isitian River

The island of Ometepe, made up of the Maderas and Concepción volcanoes, is a popular tourist destination surrounded by the waters of Lake Nicaragua. Here tourists can discover natural landscapes, amazing wildlife and fascinating towns. A lovely way to explore part of the island is by kayaking along the Istián River, which flows through the isthmus separating the two volcanoes.

The Istián River offers travelers a beautiful journey through water plants and moss-covered tree roots in this pristine setting abounding in vegetation. Many local and migratory birds reside along the river, making it the ideal location for bird watching. Amongst the birds that can be spotted are jacanas, whistling ducks, egrets, herons, stilts, hawks, guardabarranco and many others. Howler monkeys may be observed in the trees and a brief paddle out to Monkey Island will see spider monkeys and Capuchins greeting travelers. Nature lovers can also spot turtles and caimans long the Istián River.

The most popular destination from which to begin a kayaking trip is from the town of Mérida. After hiring a kayak in the town, travelers will paddle for about an hour across the lake to reach the river mouth. While making their way along the lake to the river, visitors can marvel at the spectacular volcanoes of Maderas and Concepción. It is advisable to head out on the water in the early morning or at sunset to avoid strong winds. It can be a challenging paddle, depending on conditions, but is well worth the effort. The trip from and back to Mérida should take around three to four hours.

Kayakers are reminded to wear sunscreen, while a camera and binoculars are highly recommended. It is also a good idea to wear a swimming costume in case the sparkling waters of Lake Nicaragua beckon you to dive in. Caballitos del Mar, along with renting out kayaks, offers the service of taking you and the kayak to the river mouth using a motor boat, leaving you with more energy to explore the Istián River.

The Istián River can also be reached by land, with adventurers hiking from the road between Playa Santo Domingo and Balgüe. This isn’t the easiest option as there is no marked trail. Travelers can also take a trail from Casa Isthiam to view just the upper end of the river.