Just 10km south of Granada lies the Mombacho Volcano. The volcano is 1,344 metres high and is placed in Lake Nicaragua. Over thousands of years ago, it blew most of its cone into the lake, which created a group of 365 small volcanic islands called the Islets of Granada. Most of the islets are rich with bird life, and this made me want to visit on a guided boating tour.
We booked a 2 hour trip in the afternoon for $30 from the front desk of our hostel Oasis. We were told that there’d be wildlife (monkeys in particular), so I was really looking forward to some great photo possibilities. After being picked up, we were driven to the shore of Lake Nicaragua where a boat awaited us. We were four in total; us and a German couple who was traveling around Nicaragua and Costa Rica for 2 months.
THE INFAMOUS MONKEY ISLAND
Five minutes into the tour, the guide showed us the notorious monkey island – a home to three spider monkeys and a single capuchin.
I noticed a wire that connected the island with another and asked about it. Without even trying to hide it, the guide answered: “It’s a high-voltage wire, and it’s there to make sure that the monkeys don’t escape.” Apparently, some of them had tried it numerous times, but had gotten some very bad injuries from the power line. I honestly don’t know what upset me the most: that they entrap these monkeys on a tiny island the size of a gorilla cage or that they are so openly okay with doing so. I for one am not.
About 20 minutes went by, before our guide dropped us off on (what looked like) a deserted island and told us that he’d come pick us up in one hour and sail us back. Not exactly what I had expected from the volcanic island touring, but apparently that’s just how it was.
We were shown to the other side of the island (a 10 second walk) by one of the inhabitants. Right next to the lake we found a dining table and some menu cards. The fact that the table was invaded by hundreds of tiny flies didn’t exactly lure me to try out the meat, so I stuck to veggies and the fried plantains; a deep-fried banana’ish side meal, very popular in Nicaragua.
As promised, we were picked up an hour later and sailed back to shore while watching the sunset. This was the best (and in fact the only good) thing about the whole trip.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THIS TOUR
If you’re interesting in seeing wildlife (like me) and think you’ll get that on one of these tours, you’ll be disappointed. I was grossly saddened and disgusted by the way they uphold their so-called “monkey island” – this is not wildlife, this is entrapment. If you have the time, I would recommend you to visit the cloud forests or jungles in Costa Rica or Panama. Here, you will see real wildlife such as sloths, tarantulas, snakes and monkeys – living free and unharmed like they are supposed to.
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