Nicaragua and/or Costa Rica in April?

Old Mar 28th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Nicaragua and/or Costa Rica in April?

Hi all,

I'm in the very very initial planning stages of a trip in late April, and am wondering how feasible something like this would be.

Saturday: NYC > Liberia, CR > San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
The flight lands in Liberia around noon, then we'd head across the border via bus or boat and rent a car once over in Nicaragua.

We'd then stay in San Juan del Sur or a condo on a nearby beach for 6 days and explore the area (and sled down the volcano!).

Thursday: Leave Nicaragua and head back to Liberia where travel companions depart. Instead of leaving this day, I'd head to Arenal for Thurs and Fri to see (clouds permitting!) the volcano there.

Saturday: Arenal > Liberia > NYC (1 pm flight from Liberia)

I have never been to CR or Nicaragua, so I figure instead of leaving on Thursday when everyone else does, I'll take advantage of my extended time off and see one of Costa Rica's top sights. But I'm new to the transportation/how easy or tough it is to get from place to place, and I'm traveling on a very tight budget (think backpacker), so don't want to overdo it if it's too complex to hop around.

Thanks for any tips you have!
Jess
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 08:06 PM
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There's no boat that travels from Liberia to Nicaragua. It'll be a bus. It may be a bus that takes you only as far as the border (Peñas Blancas). You'd then need to walk across the border between the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan border posts. Plenty of taxis wait on the Nicaraguan side and can take you to San Juan del Sur.

I know Alamo and Dollar have rental-car desks in SJDS. They're desks, so I can't imagine they'll have a huge selection or number of vehicles the way an airport would. (Of course, you can't rent a car in Liberia and take it across the border.) I'd be sure to make a reservation for the car.

I'd be concerned about that Thursday when your companions depart. I take it they are also leaving on the 1 p.m. flight. You have to turn in your rental car, get to the border, negotiate the border (both exit Nicaragua and enter Costa Rica), find transportation to Liberia, and check in for your flight. You're supposed to arrive at the airport three hours before departure. You might be able to fudge that some, but not a lot. That border is completely unpredictable, and there's never any way to know how long it will take. If it were me, I would not start out that day on the opposite side of the border.

Are you flights booked? Any chance of flying into Managua and spending the whole time in Nicaragua? Or staying with flights to Liberia and spending the whole time in Costa Rica? You can find more than enough to occupy you in either country.

It'll be very hot. Be prepared.
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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Thanks for all the tips! Flights aren't booked, and the border sounds a bit complicated time-wise and given our very basic Spanish knowledge. Flying to Managua and spending the whole time in Nicaragua sounds like a better plan (even if it's hot)!
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Old Mar 28th, 2013, 10:24 PM
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That sounds a lot more manageable. Nicaragua is a great country for travel, and it's cheaper than Costa Rica too. Arriving in Managua, you can easily get to Granada, a wonderful, old colonial city, in about 90 minutes. No reason to spend any time in Managua at all, except for flying in and flying out.

One other thing: You said "late April." If late April takes you into May, don't forget that May 1 is a holiday (Labor Day) in Nicaragua. Costa Rica too.
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Old Mar 29th, 2013, 04:35 AM
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Agree with Jeff, flying into Managua makes a lot more sense. Plus if you do 1-2 nights in Granada, you'll not only have a wonderful city to visit, but also be close to Mombacho & Masaya volcanoes.

Paxeos & Adelante have shared shuttles to/from many cities, although depending how many in your party it may be cheaper to get a private driver or taxi.
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