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Trip report- first timers in Nicaragua with young child

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Mar 25th, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #1
mad
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Trip report- first timers in Nicaragua with young child

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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Mar 26th, 2014, 07:47 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
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My daughter and her boyfriend are traveling to Nicaragua in June, and I admit I'm very nervous about this trip and their safety. Of course, I remember when Nicaragua was in the middle of a revolution. And I am concerned that it is rated the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

Did you feel unsafe on your trip? What are the roads like? They are going to Little Corn Island, & I have read that it is a port for drug traffickers. They are also going to Granada and Masaya. How long was your drive from Managua to Granada? I would appreciate any tips you could give.
Thank you.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 05:47 AM
  #3
mad
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Well, we did not go to Little Corn, which I understand is a big tourist destination, so I assume as safe as any of the other tourist spots. All I can tell you, is that we never felt unsafe. We drove around quite a bit, got lost and ended up driving through small villages and mostly saw fields and quiet little towns. The main roads are very good and we found it very easy to get around. The drive from Managua to Granada is about an hour and all on very good roads. Honestly, we were more concerned about getting pulled over by the police than anything else, but never did. I think with good judgment (mostly not getting drunk and staying out late, not flashing expensive items around), like anyplace else, they shouldn't have any problems.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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Thank you for your response. Just curious, why were you more concerned about getting pulled over by the police?
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Mar 28th, 2014, 04:43 AM
  #5
mad
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The police often pull people over for random reasons- lots of police around Managua and Masaya area. They may accept a bribe (like $10), or if not, give you a ticket and take your drivers license. You then need to go to the Managua police department to pay the ticket if you want your license back. Major pain!
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Jun 1st, 2014, 07:48 AM
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Thanks for your report! I'm planning a vacation right now. How long were you there, and how long did you spend in each place? Thanks!
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Jun 1st, 2014, 08:05 AM
  #7
RAC
 
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If you didn't have the kids with, do you think Ometepe would have been worth more time?
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