Nicaragua is the ideal destination for the adventure traveler who is seeking something truly unique. There are endless reasons to fall in love with this beautiful country that borders Costa Rica to the north. Besides its’ genuine warm-hearted people, some of the many things to enjoy in Nicaragua include enormous lakes, magical volcanoes, tropical rivers, lush green forests, and broad sun-soaked beaches. Because tourism is still relatively new in this country, you are able to immerse yourself in this raw, practically untouched culture and natural environment.
Granada: A Colonial Gem
You’ll definitely get a taste of Nicaraguan history when visiting the charming country city of Granada, located on the North West coast of Lake Nicaragua. The oldest city in Central America, Granada is filled with awe-inspiring colonial architecture, authentic Nicaraguan shops, horse-drawn carriages, and lively historic cafes. From the colonial city, horseback riding tours are available through the countryside as well as tours of Mombacho Volcano and ziplining and coffee plantation excursions in the cloud forest.
Mombacho Volcano, Cloud Forest, Lake Nicaragua, & the Isletas of Granada
One of the most famous volcanoes in Nicaragua, Mombacho Volcano is only about 6 miles or 10 kilometers from the city of Granada on Lake Nicaragua. A steep ride or two-hour hike up the volcano reveals stunning views of four volcanic craters and the cloud forest home to exotic animals like monkeys, pumas, and more. A canopy zip line tour can be coupled with a tour of the volcano providing exceptional views of the landscape. The canopy tour includes 11 steel cables, 17 platforms, and 3 hanging bridges. If ziplining is not your cup of tea, consider pairing a Mombacho Volcano with a coffee plantation tour where you will uncover the cultivation, harvest, and processing of a traditional Nicaraguan coffee farm. There’s a lot to do in this region. If you’re looking or more than just a day tour, consider a stay at Jicaro Island Ecolodge located on the Islets de Granada on Lake Nicaragua, the largest Lake in Central America. From the lodge, visitors can also the centuries-old artisan fishing communities living on the islands and the multitude of activities available in the area!
Managua: the Capital City
Managua, Nicaragua’s Capital, is the bustling core of the country, where nearly all industry and commerce is located. It is by far, the country’s largest city and is currently working towards being a major cultural and educational site for travelers. Managua has beautiful promenades along the Lake Managua, a gorgeous way to explore the city.
Ometepe Island is made up of two active volcanoes blanketed in the lush tropical forest in the middle of Lake Nicaragua: Concepcion Volcano and Maderas Volcano. The island is said to have been inhabited since 2000-2500 B.C. and there are still many remnants of natives. Canoe through lagoons and rivers, horseback through the untouched countryside, bicycle to beautiful white sand beaches, or take a bus from village to village. There is no place like it in the world.
Leon: the Old Capital City
This small, colonial city of Leon is considered the heart of Nicaraguan culture and is celebrated as a UNESCO world heritage site. Up until 1851, Leon was the capital of the country. You can still see and feel the history of its streets. Leon’s buildings are some of the most dated in the entire country. When you arrive in the old city, head to the main square, the Central Plaza, where you will discover the Leon Cathedral, the largest cathedral in all of Central America. When you visit, be sure to take in the cathedral’s roof where you can take in all the sights and architecture of Leon. Another highlight of the city is the Oritz-Gurdian Foundation Art Museum, former home of prominent Nicaraguan politician and lawyer, Norberto Ramirez Areas. Today the museum showcases the work of famous artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, and Diego Rivera.
Cerro Negro Volcano
Less than an hour drive from the city of Leon, Cerro Negro is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Hike about one hour up the country’s youngest and most active volcano. Then, go sandboarding 2,388 feet (about three to five minutes) down the black sandy slope of the volcano! On a guided adventure, you can also visit two active volcanic craters – taking in the heat, volcanic gases, and incredible views. Cerro Negro last erupted in 1999 and is continuously monitored by the Nicaraguan Seismic Network.
The Corn Islands
Located about 45 miles off the Caribbean shore of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands consists of Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island. Laze away the days in the year-round turquoise waters of the Caribbean or discover the islands on kayak, snorkel, and dive excursions. Little Corn Island is a truly a tropical paradise that is still nearly completely untouched by tourists. A trip here will be most enjoyed by those who love to travel far off the beaten path. English is the first language and scuba diving and deep sea fishing are the activities of choice…well, besides lying in a hammock, eating fresh lobster, and listening to Caribbean tunes.
San Juan del Sur
This small, tranquil fishing village is located only about 15 miles (24 km) north of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast. The beautiful bay is becoming a desirable destination for surfers and travelers alike because of its picturesque white sand beaches, breathtaking sunsets, ecological richness, and relaxed “Nica-style” atmosphere.
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Nicaragua Travel Guide:
1 US Dollar = 26.11 Nicaraguan Cordoba Oro. Money exchange is available in banks, exchange houses, hotels and street vendors (not recommended). Dollars are readily accepted anywhere except in the countryside. The airport tax is $20.00 and sales tax is 15%.
U.S. Citizens are required to have a passport valid for at least six months after entering the country. A Tourist Card (US$ 5.00) must be purchased upon arrival.
Nicaragua is independent, free, sovereign, Unitarian and indivisible. It is a democratic, representative republic. Managua is the nation’s capital and the seat of the Government.
Spanish is the official language. On the Atlantic Coast, the indigenous population speaks English and Miskito.
The “Nicas” are friendly and obliging people, with a matriarchal society. The country is multi-ethnic with no official religion. Nicaragua’s population is very young, 60 percent is under 17 years of age. Mestizos of mixed Indian and Spanish blood make up the majority of the population and they are the originators of Nicaragua’s colorful folklore, music and much of its religious tradition.
Managua is the nation’s capital with a population of approximately one million, 27 percent of the entire country’s population. On the Atlantic Coast, there is also strong African influence which has its roots in the black workers brought in by the British to work the plantations and in Jamaican immigration. Another predominant ethnic group is the Miskito Indian.
Electricity is generally 110 watts and 220 watts for special services. Drinking water is available in the major cities and chlorinated water can be obtained in any other city.
There is a national telephone service network. There are public telephones in Managua, major cities, and TELCOR offices. International phone calls can be made by dialing 164 in Managua and 02-164 in any other department.
Nicaragua has a predominantly tropical climate, alternating between two seasons: rainy and dry (winter and summer). This is the result of its geographic location between 11 and 15 degrees latitude north and the humidity from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which give it a fairly stable season.
In the Central Region, the rainy season lasts from May to October. The dry season occurs from November through April. During December the weather is more temperate. The warmest months are March, April, and May, Nicaragua’s “sea season.”
The climate in the Atlantic Coast has been classified as having the highest temperature and humidity. The temperature in this region corresponds to that in tropical jungles and ranges above 89° F.