Nicaragua in January

Old Nov 4th, 2013, 06:21 PM
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Nicaragua in January

We (widely traveled and kinda adventurous 60+ year olds) would like to add a week in Nicaragua onto our Panama-Costa Rica cruise. We have traveled in both of those countries in the past and would like to get a look at some of Nicaragua too. We know the infrastructure is far less developed from that in CR/P, but we've read that it is a lovely country with friendly people and quite safe for travelers. Any recommendations on must-sees and should- avoids? We both speak Spanish.
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Old Nov 5th, 2013, 05:20 AM
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Not knowing what you enjoy doing makes it tough, but, here's what our trip consisted of last year (two weeks). A few nights in San Juan del Sur. We enjoyed ourselves, could have shortened our stay by a day.

Isla Ometepe was awesome. Spent three nights there, could have stayed longer.

Granada, three nights there as well. Once again, could have stayed much longer.

Big Corn Island. We didn't love it, not sure why. The weather was good while we were there, but, there was a front coming, so we never made it to Little Corn, which I think we would have preferred.

First and last nights in Managua.

It was a great trip. Would love to go back and add Leon to our itinerary.

We're in our 60's as well.
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Old Nov 5th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Hi Shelleybeach!

Yes, Nicaragua is one of the safest areas in Nicaragua so don't worry about that (of course if you have travelled a lot you already know it is always best to wear like locals and take standard precautions). Most Nicaraguans are extremely helpful, kind, and proud to share their country with travelers.

If you're looking to stay one week in Nicaragua, It is short but enough to have a first taste of this amazing country. While Ometepe island should be number one on your top list, here are my best suggestions:

Granada should be your main spot, as from this lovely city (America’s oldest European city) you'll be able not only to take the ferry to Ometepe Island but also to enjoy other stunning places like the Mombacho and Masaya volcano, seeking out monkeys and birds (a very popular artisan markets is also available in Masaya). Between them, the Apoyo Lagoon is Nicaragua’s cleanest, bluest, and deepest swimming hole. This spectacular place is home to toucans, hummingbirds, blue jays, howler and white-faced monkeys as well as rare butterflies. Finally, just outside Granada, I highly recommend you to try the boat ride out to Las Isletas, a group of small islands (they are 365) dotted around the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

If you're looking for a beach destination, go to San Juan! The beaches of this part of Nicaragua coast are the finest on Central America's Pacific coast (don't miss Bahia Majagual). The bay is beautiful and the beach clean and lovely. If you want to explore more then you might like to visit the La Flor wildlife reserve just along the coast.

The capital (Managua) is a modern city with some lovely restaurants and good nightlife but not too much in the way of cultural distractions.

Otherwise, Leon is a very good option too. This place has had an intriguing and complex history, including time as the capital, and the focal point of the Sandinista revolution. Latterly it was home to Nicaragua’s great poet, a national hero, Rubén Dario. The city is easy and safe to explore on foot.

Near Leon, Cerro Negro Volcano, is one of the newest volcanoes in the Americas and a great place for walking. The climb to the top via the volcano’s north face can be done in just over an hour. As you stand with the smoking crater behind you, the view across the valley is absolutely stunning.

Not so far from Leon, you can also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Leon Viejo to see one of the oldest colonial settlements in the Americas, founded in 1524. This small town was abandoned about half a century later and then became covered in ash from the nearby Momotombo Volcano. Whilst at first glance, there is not that much to see, the site does preserve the essence of those very earliest days of the European conquest.

There are other great spots on the eastern side of Nicaragua (Solentiname, San Carlos, El Castillo and the Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve) but I think it will be too complicated for you to explore it as you only have a week available.

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Old Nov 13th, 2013, 05:33 PM
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Thanks for your ideas JeanH and PuraAdventura. Granada was already on our radar, but Ometepe wasn't, and I think we will definitely want to go there.

One more question--how do people get around in Nicaraugua? We've rented cars in Mexico, Panama, Belize and Costa Rica and taken tourist transports in Guatemala. We've used very comfortable deluxe buses in Mexico but also ridden in a few less pleasant ones in other places. If we wanted to go from the airport or a hotel in Managua to Granada, how do we do that?
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Old Nov 14th, 2013, 04:30 AM
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Check w/your hotel, most will offer a pick-up service. I stayed at Casa San Francisco in Granada and they arranged it all, was about $25 I think (that was a couple of years ago).

Otherwise, you can look into the more traditional shuttle type services - Paxeos or Adelante Express.

For ferry schedules (for Ometepe) Most ferries go into Moyogalpa which is convenient to get to hotels. Just a note though - ferries can be randomly canceled or changed so have a back-up ferry and not too tight of a schedule. On mine leaving Ometepe we got there and were told that the ferry had a few cars loaded and lots of passengers so it had already left.
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Old Nov 14th, 2013, 05:27 AM
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Hi again Shelley!

Depending on how much ground you're looking to cover, and where you're looking to go, there are various options. Car hire is quite good, certainly if you're sticking to the western side of the country. If you're just going Managua - Granada and back, public transport is abundant and cheap, though a taxi may be worth considering for door-to-door convenience. Just make sure you check the price before departure!

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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 02:43 AM
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My sister lived in Nica for 15? years and we visited many times. While taking a ferry out to Omatepe is nice/fun - it takes some time and there is so much else to see/do - including other Volcanoes (Nica is nicknamed the country of Volcanoes) - such as Mombassa (sp?) - out by Granada, or the other twins? just north of the capital of Managua.

There is also a Volcano just south of the capital of Managua - outside the classic city of Leon - but I can't remember it's name at the moment. It has lodging at the top, a small museum and restaurant - and my sister was a girl scout troop "mom" - and the girls and moms had a great time staying overnight there and hiking around the rim of the volcano. You ride up the side of the Volcan in these Mercedes Benz type truck/buses - and it's a blast.

Ahhh - just found it - Masaya, 20 KM south of Managua, and again - it's the only Volcan in North America? where you can actually drive/ride up to the rim.

Also - we loved the Barcelo Montelimar Beach Resort (a Spanish Club Med) - about an hour plus west of Managua. It was once Dictator Somosa's beach estate - and we drove all over with no problems, but do watch for potholes.

Later - my brother in law built a beach house nearby - but we still liked visiting Barcelo - and they made the biggest Paella platter I have ever seen.
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