Posts Tagged ‘Nicaragua’

Hacking Nicaragua in 14 Days

by admin

The land of Lakes and Volcanoes lives up to the hype with beautiful countryside and enough adventure locations for any adrenaline junkie.  With so many amazing destinations and activities to choose from, it’s difficult to spend less than a couple weeks traversing the country.  Here’s your ideal travel guide for hacking Nicaragua in 14 days:

Day 1
Fly into Managua Airport (MGA) and rent a car. Note that there is a minimum insurance cost of USD $12.99/day added onto the rental fee quoted. Drive to Somoto, which should take approximately 3.5 hours on predominantly smooth highway. Stay at Finca Mejia for an authentic experience.

Day 2
Traverse Somoto Canyon, which is a unique geological rock formation where the vertical rock walls extend for approximately five miles.  You can float down the river on inner tubes and jump off points (up to 20 meters) at various points.  After you complete the canyon tour, pack up your gear and drive 1.5 hours to Esteli.  Stay at Hotel Los Arcos, which is centrally located in town and offers spacious rooms.

Day 3
Four of the top 10 cigar factories in the world are located in Esteli.  Check out a factory tour then hike to the Salto de la Estanzuela Waterfall. El Quesito and Cafe Luz restaurants in town serve great local food.

Day 4
Drive to Leon (avoid GPS directions and make sure you take the major highways). Check out San Jacinto hot springs on the way (make sure you pay a guide to take you around).  In Leon, stay at El Convento (a former convent converted into a boutique hotel) or Hotel Flor de Sarta.  Explore the town and walk the cathedral rooftop at sunset.  El Sesteo restaurant serves amazing local cuisine and juices.

Day 5
Beach Day – Drive less than 30 minutes to Playa Las Penitas and Playa Poneloya, which are located next to each other.  Play Poneloya is less developed and has many local huts/bars/restaurants serving fresh fish along the beach.  Head to Barca de Oro restaurant on Las Penitas for dinner.

Day 6
Get up early and take a tour to Cerro Negro Volcano for a hike and volcano boarding.  Head back to your hotel for an hour siesta, and if you still have enough energy, take another tour to the Telica Volcano for an amazing sunset hike.  Back in Leon, check out El Bodegon for dinner.

Day 7
For more of a less traversed, remote beach feel, head to El Transito beach an hour drive south of Leon.  This beach is more beautiful than the more popular Las Penitas or Poneloya near Leon.  Have lunch (including amazing tacos) at Cafe Caracol.  After El Transito, head north about 20 minutes along the beach road to another amazing beach – El Velero.  If time permits, drive another 10 minutes north to Miramar Beach for a beautiful sunset.  For dinner, go to the food stands behind the Cathedral in Leon for cheap and delicious local food.  For dessert, check out Kiss Me ice cream with their homemade waffle cones.

Day 8
Get up early and drive 3-3.5 hours to catch the ferry to Ometepe in Rivas.  If you want to take your car, make sure you book a spot on the ferry at least 2-3 days in advance.  Otherwise, you can show up 15-30 minutes early and buy a ticket for a few dollars/person.  You can view the ferry schedule here.  The ferry ride takes 1-1.5 hours.  Make sure you book a ferry to the port (San José or Moyogalpa) that is closest to where you’re staying in Ometepe.  Stay at La Via Verde, Xalli, Finca del Sol, or Hefziba Airbnb (if you want to stay close to Moyogalpa). Once you arrive, rent a scooter for ~$25/day and go to Ojo de Agua for a dip in the beautiful natural pool setting and to jump off the rope swing.  If you still have a couple hours of daylight, go to Chaco Verde lagoon for an hour hike to see howler monkeys and beautiful vegetation.  Watch the sunset at the beach at Hospedaje Charco Verde.  If you’re staying near Moyogalpa, check out La Esquina Caliente restaurant for great local food.

Day 9
Concepcion Volcano – Book a guide the day before and ensure you get a good night’s sleep.  Pack at least two liters of water/person, plenty of snacks, and long sleeve shirt.  Leave your hotel between 7-8 and go to the base of Concepcion Volcano.  This hike is extremely difficult up the 5400ft volcano – 10 miles and 28000 steps up and down tough terrain.  The first 1000 meters will take you through rain forest full of bananas, amazing trees, and monkeys.  Be careful of coral snakes as well.  Once you get above the rain forest to the view point, the terrain becomes especially treacherous on steep rocky/sandy/muddy landscape.  Many guides do not want to go to the crater from here as they will get paid the same amount whether or not they go any farther.  Even if they say it is too windy, push the issue with hiking to the crater.  It is very dangerous as you get closer to the crater and not having a guide has caused many people to get in trouble.  Even though you can’t see much at the crater (due to the clouds), the hike is well worth it.  You can use an app such as Galileo to track what elevation you’re at.  The views coming down the mountain (after the clouds start to clear) are amazing.

Day 10
If you can still move your body a day after the Conception Volcano hike, go to the San Jamon waterfall on the south side of the Maderas Volcano.  Only attempt the full hike up Maderas if you are in great shape and don’t mind sludging through very muddy terrain.  There is a 3km road or hike get up to the waterfall.  You need a four-wheel drive vehicle if you want to drive up the first 2km.  The last 1km is only accessible by foot.  Swim at the base of the beautiful waterfall then head back.  If you still have energy, hit up the Chico Largo Adventure zip line or make another stop at Ojo de Agua.  If you are staying at the east side of the island, go to La Omaja hotel for sunset.

Day 11
Take the ferry back to Rivas and drive 1.5 hours to Granada.  Stay at the Casa Lucia Boutique and Yoga Retreat, Hotel Plaza Colon, or Mansion de Chocolate. Explore Granada town and check out Catedral de Granada, ChocoMuseo, Iglesia de La Merced, and Guadalupe Church.  If you have a car rental, be sure to keep it guarded/locked up at night.  Go to Bocadillos Restaurant for 2 for 1 happy hour drinks and amazing tapas.
Day 12
Go to Apoyo Lagoon in the morning and get a day pass at the Monkey Hut.  Take a kayak out and swim in the crystal clear water.  Head to the Masaya Market if you have some time to kill.  Most of the booths are filled with the same touristy knick-knacks you can find anywhere.  Make sure you book the Masaya Volcano night tour a few days in advance and head there before sunset.  The crater is immense and you can see lava at night.

Day 13
Drive 45 minutes to Mombacho Volcano and take the truck to the top of the volcano.  You can hire a guide to take you through all of the trails in about 3 hours if you move at a fast pace.  You can see the various craters, along with monkeys and sloths (if you’re lucky) along the trails.  Head back to town and go to Cafe de los Suenos for lunch and fresh juice.

Day 14
If you have a night flight out of Managua, take a 1-2 hour boat ride ($20/hour) through the amazing Islets of Granada to see the beautiful mansions and monkey island.  Go to Villa Mombacho Restaurant for lunch/dinner before heading out to Managua for your return flight.

*Note that the Corn Islands or San Juan del Sur are not included in this itinerary.  The Corn Islands are a beautiful beach destination, but similar to other Caribbean experiences without many unique things to do.  San Juan del Sur is the party destination of the country, which can be found in many other places like Cancun.  It is recommended to spend the majority of your time seeing the unique experiences of the country.