Nicaragua Trip Report 3/07

Old Mar 18th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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Nicaragua Trip Report 3/07

We flew into Managua and arranged for the hotel car service to take us directly to Granada. We learned after that the Hotel Colonial's transportation was outrageously expensive. For 2 of us the charge was $50. If you plan on making this trip contact Oro Travel they charge $28 for the same service. As disappointed as I was with the cost of the hotel service I must say this is a good place to stay. The cost for a double was $75 a night. The rooms were clean but the best part was the pools. They have 2 pools with a swim up bar. Drinks here are also expensive at about $4 for a rum and coke. We didnít eat at the hotel but next door is Euro Café, which has great coffee and pastries for a light breakfast. The owners are extremely nice and attentive. After a hot day exploring the area the hotel pool is the perfect place to unwind. We did spend one night at the La Gran Francia for about $120 (a balcony room) including breakfast. The rooms were huge and
clean but the pool was in the middle of the lobby. It wasnít a place youíd just sit around.
Our favorite restaurant was El Zaguan. The food was excellent. For meat eaters the mixed grill is wonderful. We went there twice. The Mediterraneo was ok. It was expensive. For great brucetta and good pizza the place is across the street from Zoomís I cant remember the name but it says pizzeria.
Granada is a great place to take day trips from. There were a lot of warnings about the roads and driving we didnít rent a car this trip but we will if we go back. The roads arenít great, but they are fairly empty. A four-wheel drive would be a good idea because there are many dirt roads that will take you to out of the way places. We found Oro travel and Amigo travel (right next door to the Colonial) to be helpful and accommodating. The trips are arranged just for your party but you pay per person.
One trip we took was to Volcano Masaya and Lake Apoyo. There wasnít much to Masaya. You walk around the smoking crater and there is an easy walk around the other volcano. If you only go to visit one volcano and you like to hike I would suggest Mombacho. The lake is beautiful. The water is a clear blue unlike Lake Nicaragua. There are a few hotels on the lake for inexpensive to luxury. The hotels have restaurants but there is not much else around there. Itís a good place to relax in the sun and swim. Our other day trip was Mombacho and the zip line. On the way up the volcano you stop at a coffee plantation. Mombacho has 2 trails to hike. 1 is the easiest and it takes about an hour. It is not a hard hike if you are ok with stairs but it is beautiful. The other hike you can only do if you hire a guide. It can be COLD at the top of Mombacho you should bring a windbreaker or sweat shirt and of course a bottle of water. After the hike we were taken down to the zip line. It was fun. (I think this trip was about $40 per person)
We hired a private taxi to take us to San Juan del Sur. The cost was $50. You can get there for a lot less. There are signs in the square for the express bus service I think it was about $15 for this trip. We stayed at Piedras y Olas (Pelican Eyes). This is considered the luxury accommodations in the city. It is an easy walk into the ďcityĒ but you must be able to climb stairs to stay at this resort. It is built in the side of a mountain. We paid about $120 a night. I was told we were lucky to get a room by just walking in. So reserve if you plan to stay there. The two pools are nice with a great view of the ocean below. The rooms are decorated nice but we had ants and very little hot water. The grounds are pretty but it is the staff that makes this place so wonderful. The service was as good as any 5 star resort. Breakfast is included!!! Eat the breakfast the menu is wonderful eggs benedict, stuffed French toast and rolls that I wish I could have brought home. The food was exceptional. We also found a great Italian restaurant O Sole Mio. I do not recommend the pizza it is bland but the pasta and the sauces were terrific. For after dinner drinks we enjoyed the patio at Big Wave Daveís the prices are low and the atmosphere good for hanging out. We were not impressed with Bar Timon. The service wasnít good and the food was just ok. We spent a day on a private boat where we went to the secluded beaches and had a great lunch on the surferís beach. The beach in town is muddy and the water is mucky. The beaches we went to had beautiful sand and that wonderful blue water. (I donít have the price we were guest of others)
The only other place we explored was Ometepe. We took the ferry from San Jorge for $3. (you can pay on board) I was glad we didnít have a car because I could not imagine trying to drive it onto this ferry. The island has a nice laid back vibe. But if you plan on hiking one of the two volcanoes be prepared. The easiest hike is 5 hours and I hear itís not easy. Make sure you have the right shoes. We stayed at Finca Playa Venecia. The cabins are clean and cost $40. There is neither TV nor hot water. There is not much near the hotel. The restaurant is on property and it is inexpensive. The owner rents horses. You may want to bring a travel game or something to entertain you at night. The beach there is small and the water didnít seem too swimable. We visited Playa Santo Domingo this was a great beach. There are a bunch of hotels on the beach here. We had a wonderful lunch at Villa Paraiso. We wanted to stay there but the rooms were booked. If you stay on Playa Santo Domingo you could probably walk to a wonderful swimming hole. It is on private property and costs a dollar to enter. We returned to San Jorge and for $30 we had a private driver take us back to Grenada.
The country is inexpensive, safe and the locals are extremely friendly. I highly recommend a trip to this wonderful country.
kjanes is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to share!
hopefulist is offline  
Old May 14th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for sharing this report. I am currently considering a long weekend trip from NY to either Nicaragua or El Salvador, and am leaning towards Nicaragua (easier and cheaper flight). I'll leave El Salvador for another trip.
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Old Jun 25th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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kjanes thanks for posting. Are you still around? I have some questions about Masaya & other day trips from Granada. Thanks
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 03:20 PM
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During our vacations in that beautiful country we used Paxeos, they charge US$15 per person from the airport to our hotel in Granada, I beleive they have the only shuttle to the airport and have a great service. We stayed in Casa San Francisco for a couple of nights (the second floor rooms are great) and our last night we spent it in Hotel Plaza Colon, beautiful hotel, great service.

We also took the shuttle to San Jorge with Paxeos, good service, on time always. Wwe stayed in Ometepe 3 wonderful days. I would recommend anyone to visit this country, very inexpensive, very good service and friendly people.
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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We would like to hike around Mombacho one day and maybe have a swim in that beautiful lake. I was looking at the Oro offerings and it seems that you can't do both, or at least the Mombacho Tours don't seem to have a stop at the lake to swim. Did you swim there?

Also I'd like to do the canopy tour. Did you do all your plans through Oro? We won't have a car so need a ride. The Oro information doesn't really say where the canopy tour is. Is there only one and is it at Mombacho?

I really look forward to have a couple of days to see something really different.
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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Crose,
There are two different ziplines close to Granada. The one we did was on the way down from Mombacho. You can't miss it. I am not sure which one is supossed to be the best but my friends really enjoyed themselves.
You should ask Oro travel about taking you to the lake to swim, they may be able to arrange it for you as they are very helpful.
We stayed at Casa San Francisco and they arranged a driver for us who took us to Masaya volcano and to the lake for a swim.
Once you get to Granada everything is easy to arrange. Have fun.
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