Zapatera is a small low shield volcano that forms a 7 x 10 km wide island on the western side of Lake Nicaragua near Mombacho volcano.
Zapatera has an area of 52 squares kilometers and is the second largest island in the cocibolca lake after ometepe, it was formed by an active volcano wich now is covered by a tropical forest vegetation and several rocky streams.
Some antropologist belive zapatera island was a sanctuary or ceremonial site for the original inhabitants of the land, mainly of chorotegas origin.
Many petroglyphs were found there, along urns and idols and artifacts that evidence the indigenous presence from 800 to 1200 A.D;
The main archeological site are: Zonzapote, Jiquilito And Las Canas. Some belive that the island was a cementery for the indigenous tribes that populated Ometepe.
Several statues of zapatera were discovered in Jiquilito and Zonapote; the enviroment condition in the time have erased many of the original features. Most of the statues and urns found on the island now can being admired at the museum of San francisco in Granada city.
The Zapatera statues are carved in black basalt , their style is reminicent of other central and south american culture, thre are some stone mound probably used in anciet ceremonies
In Zapatera live a community called Sonzaponte with a hotel where you can pass the night on the island but there aren't electricity and bed so you can sleep in a hammock.
On the island there are a lot of activity like fishing with a net, visit the place where the petrogliphos are, climbing the hill of Las Banderas or hiking to the viewpoint situated on the top of Zapatera; this is a difficult escursion because the viewpoint is a 630 meters above sea level.
The guides are avaliable from the community of Sonzapote for 10$ every group .
Another activity is follow the pre-colombino's track that cross the forest, along it you can admire beautiful petrogliphos characteristic of the island as a matter of fact all the stone that are at the San Francisco's museum was taken from Zapatera.
The simplest way to arrive to Zapatera is taking a boat from the port of Granada because there aren?t any means of transport that link the island with the country, anyway that isnt the only way to reach Zapatera in fact you can rent a private boat; there are another service that take the tourist to the island, it is managed by the UCA tierra y agua a foundation the community of Sonzapote take part.
The excursion, leaving from the community of Sonzapote, last approximately six hours; along the trail the visitors can admire some of the few small banana plantations on the island before enter in the forest that covers great part of the island. It has a great variety of flora and fauna monkeys, chocoyo and parrots can easy be seen; also jaguars, deers and armadillos live on the island but it isn?t common to see them.
After arrived to the top the hike continue until reach a viewpoint situated three kilometres ahead from the top there you can have a great view of the lake Cocibolca and the island Ometepe. This additional feature isn't easy for those who don?t usually walk and being in good shape is necessary; the guides are avaiable in the community of Sonzapote for $8 every hike. In the community are practicable other activites like hike to visit the places where petroglyphos are, climbing the hill of Las Banderas or be fished with one net.