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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Trip report- first timers in Nicaragua with young child

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We just returned from an amazing trip to Nicaragua. We traveled with our six year old to Granada, Ometepe and Popoyo. I got so much help from many of you on this forum during my trip planning- thank you all so much!

We arrived late in Managua, so I booked a one night stay at Casa Robleto in Masaya, since it wasn't too far from the airport. Their driver was there to greet us when we arrived. The place was nice, but we were given a room with broken air conditioning, which made for a fairly miserable night's sleep. The owner was pleasant and the other guests seemed happy, but we were glad to leave. we moved on to Hotel Plaza Colon in Granada. It's a beautiful, relaxing hotel with good breakfasts and good service. We really enjoyed our time here. We had a great meal at El Tercer Ojo, which was on a lively, fun street. Other restaurants- Summer and Zaguan, were nothing special in my opinion.

We hired Francisco Munguia to be our guide for two days and he did not disappoint. His english is excellent, he's knowledgeable and very pleasant to be with. The highlights of our time with him include a private night tour of Masaya volcano which was beyond awesome. If you go at around 4:30 you can see the museum, volcano, walk through the cave and see the hundreds of bats fly out of the caves at sunset- so cool. Our son loved it and was not overwhelmed. We also loved visiting a pottery school, where our son got a chance to try the pottery wheel. Francisco got us a private tour of the Isletas, so we could go for just an hour, where we saw lots of interesting birds and monkeys. Lastly, the zipline at Mombacho was well run and really fun (we've done others and this was one of the better ones).

Two days in Granada was enough for us and we rented a car from Dollar for a great price and drove to the ferry to go to Ometepe. We had no issues getting there, even though we missed our car reservation. We got on a boat with no problem. Ometepe was relaxing and pretty, but for us, one day would've been enough there. We absolutely loved the kayak tour down the river and enjoyed visiting the volcanic springs, but with a young child, there wasn't much more for us to do. We swam in the lake and relaxed, but we prefer to be more active. We did take a cooking class at local farm, San Ramos, which I'll review separately, It was interesting, but hard with a young child, as it was soooo long and very hot.

Lastly, we drove to Rancho Santana without incident. Had an absolutely amazing time here. The rooms and grounds are beautiful, food good, beaches amazing. We had two free guided hikes around the tidal pools and through the woods. I had a massage on the beach for $35 which was as good as anyplace I've been in the U.S.. The pool overlooks the ocean and was not crowded. it was a hard place to leave!

Lastly, we drove back to Managua, mostly on a long dirt road. It was a slow, but scenic trip. Mostly farmland and very dry fields (everything was dry when were there). It took us exactly 2 1/2 hrs to get to the Camino Real in Managua where we stayed for our last night. It was an adequate, airport hotel with a decent restaurant.

We really loved Nicaragua. We were initially really worried about the driving. We kept our heads down when we saw police, were very careful with speed and signaling and never had a problem.

This is a beautiful country, with warm, friendly people. We can't wait to go back!

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