Kayaking the Rio Istian


Beautiful reflections within the estuary, Rio Istian, as the sun descended into the horizon.

Kayaking the Rio Istian was possibly the coolest thing I did while in Ometepe.  Such an idea landed on my radar only when I received an email from Eileen from Via Verde the day before my arrival asking if I’d join another solo traveler on a kayaking trip, which had a 2 person minimum.  Being a fellow solo traveler, I was sympathetic to the plight of the solo traveler and responded, “Sure, why not.”  When it was canceled, I was kind of ambivalent.  But, Eileen and Darren were adamant that I needed to make another attempt, “It is a really nice experience.”  So, off I went.  Wow!  And, I’m glad I did.  The scenery was pristine, and the wildlife was abundant.

Kayaking the Rio Istian at sunset.  Beautiful colors!

Kayaking the Rio Istian at sunset. Beautiful colors!

Sean, from Campestre Tours, picked 4 Norwegians and I up at our B&B (Via Verde) around 3, and we headed out towards Merida, on the other side of the volcano.  The road was hella rough, mostly a disastrous dirt road, un-maintained as expectation is for imminent paving and improvements.  This made it most interesting for me, as I was the young buck of the group and held true to my feisty adventura ways, jumping in the truck bed to allow the others seats inside.  The road was rocky as hell, but riding in back is always an adventure…and the smiles I got from Nicas along the way were priceless.  We dropped the kayaks in at El Peru.  Luckily, I scored a seat in Sean’s boat, so my ride was always smooth sailing!  Took one for the team by road and stealthed the best seat by boat!  Immediately, I felt serenity.  It was a beautiful time of day.  The sun was starting it’s descent.  It was partly cloudy and had just rained, so it was cool.  Women were out along the shore, washing clothes.  Animals were plodding about, grazing here and there.  Horses were galloping along the water’s edge.  Where were they going?  Not sure.  But, they were doing what the happy horses around here do, grazing and playing.  We saw plenty of birds and some magnificent trees.  The Ceiba (or Ceibo…yes, Sean, I listen.  But, Honduras is engrained in me!) never ceases to put me in awe with it’s grandeur.  After about 30 minutes of paddling,  we approached the Rio Istian, not actually a river, but an estuary, a wetland.  The Rio is not fed by streams, but by the lake when water levels are high enough.  But, the way it fingers it’s way in between the two volcanoes appears as if it were a river, thus it’s name.  The wildlife here was overwhelming and delightful.  We saw egrets, vultures, spoon billed something or others, song birds, and others I can’t even remember.  We saw a turtle…umm, let’s be real; Sean saw a turtle.  I just acted like I could see at what he was pointing.  But, best of all, we saw a caiman alligator…and it did not swim away immediately.  It hung around and let us swoon over him.  Really cool.  Then, we paddled out of the estuary just in time to watch the sun drop into the horizon leaving an orange glow below the clouds.  Not the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen, but I damn good one, making for some great photos.


This enormous tree at the mouth of the estuary fills with egrets and song birds at dusk. It’s beautiful…and noisy…and full of guano!

We then bee-lined back to El Peru, loaded up our kayaks, and headed back to devour some delivery from…of course, Cafe Campestre.  Refueled with homemade fettucine especial before tanking into bed for the night, thoroughly exhausted, my arms screaming, “Why???”  Not a single negative thing to say about the experience.


A scattering of Miami Palms at our drop in point, El Peru, in Merida. They stand out for sure, as they are so dramatic in appearance.


Dropping in at El Peru at dusk, I was struck by the silvery light shining through this beautiful tree and giving a beautiful sheen to the water.


Bird life everywhere! It was wonderful!


I can’t remember the name of this bird, but I feel like it was a type of eagle. As I was paddling, I totally flashed back to those summer canoe trips up in the Boundary Waters!




Totally enthralled by this little bird hopping around the shoreline. So small but so pretty against the lush green background.


I have at least 20 pictures of these Egrets. Beautiful creatures, and the Rio is teeming with them.




Noisy suckers!


The caiman! We actually saw a caiman alligator, and he didn’t swim away. He just hung out with us and let us swoon at him!


Kayaking through the wetland was quite interesting as we paddled around trees and through these kinda gateways or arches. Everything was so picturesque.




Exiting the estuary at sunset.


What’s a sunset at Rio Istian without a flock of birds flying through it?


It was a bit too cloudy for the whole sky to light up, but with a good zoom, the photos I took were just as stunning!


Sunset over Lake Nicaragua…like a watercolor painting.

One response to “Kayaking the Rio Istian

  1. Pingback: Disconnecting in Ometepe, Nicaragua | pathway unconventional·

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