This past weekend I had the pleasure of venturing further north in Nicaragua to Somoto, a beautiful little colonial town in the department of Madriz just south of the Honduran border. An up and coming destination for many tourists, Somoto is most commonly known for its beautiful canyon, one of the oldest rock formations in Central America with its vertical walls extending for roughly 5 miles. If you’re an outdoor person and love wildlife, then this is definitely the place for you. Somoto Canyon offers a variety of activities from hiking to rock climbing, camping, horseback riding and more.
I traveled with a small group of friends who were running in a race through the canyon on Sunday and who wanted to tack on some extra free time to rock climb. Considering that I hadn’t traveled north of Estelí, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explore more of what this beautiful country has to offer.
After joining with the crew in Estelí, we hopped on a quick hour and fifteen minute bus ride to Somoto, dropped our bags off at the hostel and made our way to Namancambre Tours to pick up our rock climbing gear. Considering that I haven’t rock climbed since I was in eight grade, I knew I was in for a special treat. Fortunately, one of my friends Michaela is a serious climber so I knew I was in good hands.
We made our way out to one of the best climbing spots and made camp along the river for the afternoon. It was bliss – such a beautiful, sunny day. We picnicked on one of the big rocks, went swimming in the fresh water of the Rio Coco and climbed the nearby cliff. I was definitely in for a rude awakening when it came to the rock climbing though — easier said than done. Boy was that hard! I’m starting to feel all the soreness in my upper back. After spending most of the afternoon in the canyon, we ended the day with some delish carne asado from one of the best spots in town and then crashed by 9:00pm.
Sunday was off to an early start as most of the group was up at the crack of dawn to participate in the race. And this wasn’t just any race, this was basically like one of those ultra marathons you hear about. There were three difference distances – 35K, 20K and 10K – that started right outside of town and then cut into the canyon up through the mountains. At one point in the race, the runners had to swim down through the river to the other end of the canyon. What was so cool was that 8 PCVs participated! My friends Siri and Michaela won first and second place in the 20K. It was incredible and inspiring. I may have to try and push myself to participate next year! What an experience that would be.
All in all, our weekend getaway was perfect. I just loved exploring a new part of this country, and even better to be in such great company. But before making our way onto the bus, I, of course, had to make sure we stopped to pick up some fresh rosquillas and hojaldras (crusty cornbread rings and crusty cornbread with sugar). Considering that Somoto is known for making the BEST rosquillas, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to indulge. Yum.
Thank you, Somoto. I will be back!