Watershed Brand
Location | Nicaragua
Description | Dirt biking on Omatepe
Photographer | Martin Wright
Words by | Martin Wright

I normally have a quiet one on January 2nd, most people do right? Not this year, this year I found myself riding a dirt bike on a volcano in Nicaragua. As days go it was right up there, I hope I never forget it and best of all it was completely unplanned.

I rented a 200cc dirt bike along with two other guys, a Canadian called Odin and Javier, a Costa Rican or ‘tico’. Javier knew a sweet spot where he wanted to go bouldering so that was to be our destination. We headed off on the main road around the island, dodging errant dogs and pigs, going pretty chilled with an occasional cheeky squeeze of the throttle. It was a long time since I'd ridden a bike and it felt quick.

dirt bike nicaragua

dirt bike on a volcano in Nicaragua

The villages thinned out and we headed through a stunning stretch between the two volcanoes that formed the island until we eventually ran out of tarmac. We were on a wide flat track with a few loose rocks, easy going until we hit our first water splash! The next turn was up a loose narrow path that climbed up the base of the volcano, I could feel the bike breaking traction and my heart beat a little faster as I twisted the throttle open to gain some momentum.

volcano in Nicaragua

views out across Lake Nicaragua

I was pumped by the time we got to the bouldering spot. It was incredible, I sat up on a huge rock with views out across Lake Nicaragua and surrounded by butterflies of every colour including some beauties with transparent wings. It was almost too much to take in, such a vibrant little patch of green jungle that seemed to reveal more and more to me as my eyes acclimatised.

Afterwards we biked on up the track to a little house where Javier had been before. It was set back in the jungle and there was a big family, a tiny elderly woman was clearly the head of the household and there were countless chickens and children. She brewed us up some coffee with fresh water that comes from a spring up on the volcano, it was good!

Somehow the conversation turned to a waterfall which they offered to show us, we ended up going on an incredible hike up the side of the volcano. A few members of the family came with us and Juan-Carlos, the son, led the way creating a path with a machete at times, it was tough. We stopped to harvest fruit and cocoa for snacks and they even found a freshwater crab which they brought back down alive for dinner. In total it was about three hours of clambering over slippery rocks in thick hot humidity, I got bitten and scratched all up my legs and completely destroyed my shoes in the thick wet jungle mud!

nicaraguan family members

fresh water crab

nicuaigrian family house

I cannot tell you how good it was though, and when we got back to their house I wolfed down the dish of rice, beans and egg they served up. On top of being exhausted I had a feeling of overwhelming privilege, that these people had taken the time to share with us something that so few would get to see. They asked for a pitiably small amount for the coffee and food, suffice to say we gave a little more, but money simply couldn't buy the experience we had just had. Or were still having, because it was an hour and a half ride back for us, in the pitch black darkness, awesome!