One of the largest countries in Central America; Nicaragua has a diverse landscape and it covers almost 129,494 square kilometers with extensive range of climate, topography and regions. With a majority of area which is still undeveloped, this country offers a tremendous variety for the traveler to enjoy. The wide array of experience which ne can indulge in starting from hiking through the rain forests and jungles, to the discovery of deserted beaches, to diving in the untouched reefs, climbing on the active volcanoes, to surfing onto the perfect beach. This place certainly has a lot to offer to every individual. Just, take the time off your schedule and explore the unexplored natural majesty.
The country is also termed as “the land of Lakes and volcanoes” is majorly divided into three regions- the north central mountains, the pacific coast and the Atlantic coast.
The Northern Mountains- A Natural Wonder
The cloud covered forest is the hub of opportunities for eco tourism and varied jungle adventures. Residing at a level of almost 300 ft above the sea level; the forest is home to cedar, mahogany and pines, which are further covered with beautiful orchids and moss thus making the place ideal for hiking, bird watching and also horseback riding. This naturally rich area has some of the breathtaking scenic trails and also mountain lodges which makes one fall in love with nature again.
Some of the major places in the northern mountains are Chinandega; which is the regional capital. It also caters as the base point for numerous scenic expeditions. This agriculture center land offers many fascinating volcanoes, beaches and scenic beauties to the traveler. The common folks here boast of their talents in pottery, leather and stone craftsmanship. The place also has some of the finest local cigar factories. The city also rests on history of legends and lore.
The region has breathtaking surroundings of the place with majestic mountains and waterfalls; this place is a central hub of majestic flora and fauna.
The north region is comparatively poorer than the rest and it undergoes major drought, poor soils and acute deforestation as well. The place has an extensive variety of almost 150 species of birds, numerous orchids and many medicinal plants, henceforth making this place ideal for howler monkeys and other exotic animals.
Central Pacific region – A Colonial Treasure
This region boasts of an amazing wealth of diverse beauty ranging from the country’s tallest volcanoes to the treasured archaeological ruins, to the crafts and folklore of some of the most authentic colonial cities. The regions are easily accessible and can be reached out easily form the nation’s capital city. The region also produces most of the country’s cheese and milk, as cattle rearing is an age old profession of the city.
The area has not yet lost its Wild West vibe yet. Burly hikes, horseback treks and petro glyphs are still prominent in the region. The region is sparsely populated than the pacific region; the residents of the region can be easily outnumbered by their cattle. This region is off the beaten path, so even one may not find tourists even for miles in most of the towns. The mountains of the region are still unexplored and the continuous discoveries till date of the chontal statues implies to the grandeur of the mysteries this area retains till date.
Atlantic Coast – A Region Untouched
This region is definitely Nirvana for nature lovers. This area consists of the major demographical area of the country and in the least populated region which definitely makes this place one of its kind. The region dominates almost 46 percent of the country’s land and has stretch-out beaches for more than 205 miles. This place is totally different from the rest two regions be it in terms of culture, societal or linguistic. The primary mode of transportation here is via rivers. The city also has world class fishing, scuba diving and eco tourism, which are on a constant spur, making this region outshine the rest.
The bluefields is one of the most beautiful Atlantic coasts. The wide rivers with small jungle canals add to the beauty of the place. The plentiful availability of seafood along with dancing and reggae bars adds more to the place. The exotic combination of white sand, coral reefs, mangroves, coconut palms, jungles and rainforest makes this place one of its kind. This forgotten tropical bliss offers great diving, snorkeling and sun bathing to the travelers.
Top things to See and Do in Nicaragu
The place has faced the trauma of some of the highly destructive earthquakes and the prolonged years of political and civil unrest has caused a poor fate to this beautiful and diversely rich country. After many years of slumber, the country is reshaping its future again. With lots of expats showing keen inters tom moving in and buying properties there, this beautiful and wonderful country is getting better now. So, here are a few things one can see and do to have the best in Nicaragua:
Admire Colonial Granada
The place known for some of the best preserved colonial architectures, this place is very popular among the travelers. The place has also undergone some of the recent investments in tourism. The magnificent buildings at Plaza de Independencia, hikes a nearby volcano. One should not forget to try out the delicacies at Kathy’s Waffles, Garden Café and also the Vigoren stalls in the park.
Relax in San Juan del Sun
This place has been a massive hit among the surfers and the backpackers. The beaches here are located in perfect settings and enclosed by prehistoric volcanic hills. Here, one can easily find a lot of options for cheap bars and hostels which makes it a massive hit among the youngsters. The place also offers as a ground for constant party. With easy and affordable stay options, this place undoubtedly makes it to the list of must visit places.
Since the area has tremendous amount of beaches to it, both the Caribbean and the pacific border shores are pretty popular in fishing. Even off the coast one can easily find myriad of fish- some of them even goes up to about 200 lbs.
Because of the year round waves and warm water at the area, the places serve as an ideal destination for surfing. The presence of many surf schools in the region offers tuitions and equipment hire to those who need. At a mere payment of 10 USD per day for board and $25 USD per hour for lessons one can easily enjoy surfing around the towns of Rivas and San Juan del Sur.
Kayak around Las isletas
Las Isletas is a chain of small and beautiful islands located on a lake near Granada. The place provides one with the opportunity to experience some if nature in a pretty calm and relaxed setting. Generally, a two hour trip round the place generally costs $33 USD.
Visit ‘old’ Leon
Dating back to the 16th century, the ruins of Leon Viejo is a short trip from Leon. This place is a must have for all those to gets excited with history. This World Heritage Site has been listed by UNESCO and is one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements in America. This is the only place in the entire country to see and learn about the country’s founding colonial past. The amusing murals and graffiti around the city talk about the chivalric pas of the political war between the Sandinistas ans the Somozas. Also, the Museum of the Revolution is a must visit place to bring the history back to life.
Attend the San Sebestian Festival
In honor of San Sebastian; the city’s patron saint, every year near the end of January, the people in Diriamba hosts a huge celebration. The festivities runs from 17th to the 27th of January, includes colorful parades and a huge feast along with a plethora of traditional music.
Surf down a Volcano
A young and active volcano of the country- Cerro Nergo, offers the tourists an amazing chance to board down the graveled slopes through an organized tour. One gets the wonderful opportunity to hike up to the top, which almost takes an hour. This half day affair costs about 30 USD, and one needs to be prepared for a climb uphill and get dirty.
Explore the Masaya Markets
The city of Masaya is known for the two craft markets known as the Mercado Municipal and the Mercado de Artesanias. Every Thursday night the market features the “Night of Revelry” which includes dancing, music and local food.
Enjoy the Corn Islands
Onto the Caribbean coast, the corn island is undoubtedly a vacation retreat. The major centre of attraction of the place is scuba diving, snorkel, to fish and to relax. There is a provision of smaller boats which takes one between the different islands. Certainly the best chill out spot in the country, the place is less crowded yet pretty popular.
Hike up a Volcano
Hiking up a volcano is a major activity of the country. The challenging hike up the volcanoes is worth the amount and one in a lifetime experience. The victorious trek up the volcano is makes it one of its kinds. Some of the most popular volcanoes are Cerro Negro (volcano boarding), Telica (famous for sunset hikes), San Cristobal (the longest and hardest) and Momotombo(second hardest).
The capital city and the hub of many beautiful buildings and museums; this city owns the dilapidated ruin of once a wonderful cathedral which was destroyed in Earthquake. The city also houses many art galleries and museums. So, if history excites you then this place is a must visit to relive history.
Hiking at Miraflores
This beautiful place located in Esteli in the Northern region; this national park is a must visit for the travelers. The wanderlust; this place is full of beautiful cloud forest, surrounded by small farms and over rivers and waterfalls. One might barely encounter any other tourist. It’s like being the owner of the entire jungle. One can go on a one day long or multi day treks based on personal preferences to the park; this place never fails to amuse the travelers.
The multi day trip to the place let’s one stay with the local host families and thus come closer to the natives. Certain programs have been initiated to let one learn or teach farming. One day trek costs almost $15 USD and it starts from 7 am till 4pm in the evening. To add to a noble cause; all the money collected from the tours goes directly to the communities who are a part of the entire trek stretch.
A visit to Ometepe Island
This extra ordinary island is formed by the joining of two volcanoes. The major activities around the island include hiking the volcano, cycling and kayaking. With cheap food and accommodation this place is worth trying out for a few days to unwind the zest in you. The walks up the volcanoes are quite stretcheous and takes almost a day; but worth the walk.
Hang out at Lake Apoyo: Lying on the crater of the Apoyo volcano; this lake is a beautiful setting with crystal clear water ideal for swimming. One can even consider fishing, sailing or going on a hike. This place certainly is an ideal getaway for a couple of days to ease off and relax the mind and soul.
Apart from the above mentioned list there is a lot of Adventure Travel which one can try out being in the city. This place is ideal for those who are young at heart and are always up for an adventure. The few adventures one can try out are listed below:
- Scuba and Snorkeling
- Canopy Tours
- Sandboarding down the Cerro Negro
- Sport Fishing
- Extreme Adventure (Mountain biking, skiing down the side of volcano)
The country which has re-built itself after facing the wrath of many hazards and natural disasters, this country is worth a visit. This place is easy on everyone’s pocket; So, all the adventure enthusiasts, pack up your bags and gear up for your next adventure to this amazing country.