When you think of long-distance travel to Central America, you probably have the very popular Costa Rica in mind. Very few think of their neighbor Nicaragua. But this country is in no way inferior to Costa Rica. Especially in the last few years Nicaragua has invested a lot in the expansion of the infrastructure, hotels and excursion possibilities. After having been there several times ourselves, we were able to convince ourselves that certain prejudices are absolutely unjustified. But read our 8 facts about Nicaragua for yourself…
1. Nicaragua? Where was that again?
Nicaragua, the insider tip when it comes to long-distance travel. In terms of area, it is the largest and most sparsely populated country in Central America. The relatively poor but very open-hearted population welcomes travelers and nature travelers get their money’s worth thanks to the extraordinary flora and fauna. Nestled between Costa Rica and Honduras, you can plunge into the floods on two coasts in Nicaragua – theoretically. The somewhat rougher Pacific is very suitable for surfing, but the Caribbean side is not quite what you would imagine a Caribbean dream to be. The coastal area is very sparsely populated and not easy to reach. However, there is a little gem in the Caribbean Sea – the Corn Islands. Two islands where you can relax in the hammock and really enjoy your holiday..
- Central America,… how do you get there?
Getting there is actually very easy. With mostly two changes you can reach Managuaz. B. from Frankfurt a. M. from in about 11 flight hours. A little more complicated than when you travel to neighboring Costa Rica, but also no world tour. During the transfers you can stretch your legs a little and stroll through the small airport shops. Then the trip is sure to be a lot more pleasant!
As a German tourist, you do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less. All you have to do is buy a tourist card for just under USD 10 per person at the airport. So all in all, not a lot of stress.
3. What is there to see in Nicaragua?
The authentic and touristically unspoiled country has more to offer than you might think at first glance. Starting with old colonial cities like León and Granada, to volcanoes, chocolate and coffee, to dreamlike landscapes, white beaches with clean water and untouched virgin forests like the river near San Juan and the islands of Corn Island.
León is one of the most famous colonial cities in Nicaragua and impresses with its traditional architecture. A special highlight is the “Basílica de la Asunción” cathedral. Or the view from the church “La Merced” over the colorful streets of Granada, the third largest city in the country, will definitely impress you. A carriage ride through the colorful streets of Granada can also be a little adventure.
Nicaragua owes the name “Land of a Thousand Volcanoes” to the large number of active volcanoes along the Pacific coast. The best known are Masaya, Momotombo and Cerro Negronear León. For those who do not want to climb, there are fire mountains, where you can drive to the edge of the crater and take a leisurely stroll to see the inside of the volcano. For all active ones among you, there are also bigger challenges like climbing the volcanoes Concepión or Maderas on the Isla Ometepe. The most fun is probably the Cerro Negro volcano, covered with black sand. It is a very popular place for sandboarding. Here you jet down the volcano with a wooden board, which here functions as a kind of snowboard. An adrenaline rush and so much fun that you shouldn’t miss.
In the northern provinces, the climatic conditions for the cultivation of good coffee and cocoa are particularly favorable. One of the largest contiguous cocoa cultivation areas in the world is being created here under the name of a German who particularly promotes sustainable cultivation.
But if you prefer to relax on the beach, there are of course plenty of opportunities in Nicaragua. On the one hand there is the huge Lake Nicaragua, which is one of the three largest lakes in Latin America. Here you will find several different islands that should not be missing on a trip. Isla Ometepe is particularly interesting, as two of the gigantic volcanoes here give the panorama the icing on the cake. Who then prefers the sea, is z. B. on the island “Big Corn Island” exactly right. This is the best place to end the trip with snorkeling and diving trips in crystal clear water.
- And what about the food, surely there is only beans and rice?
No not only. Many hotels and restaurants have adapted their cuisine to their international guests and offer appropriate dishes. However, it would be a shame to miss the traditional dishes. We also completely embarked on a tasty journey and wanted the full program. So we didn’t let ourselves be tempted by freshly baked rolls, because Nicaraguan cuisine has a lot to offer!
Even though rice is the main ingredient of almost every dish, it is always combined differently so that it doesn’t get boring. There are so many fruits and vegetables that we have never seen before: Pithaya (similar to our dragon fruit), Jicote, Nancite, Noni etc. “Gallo Pinto” – Nicaragua’s national dish – also consists of rice with beans, but this time stirred. Depending on the region, this is also served with other dishes, such as B. freshly caught prawns, fish or grilled chicken or beef goulash served. And believe it or not, but it tastes really good every time!
- Nicaragua is very poor, shouldn’t I be very worried?
Nicaragua is one of the safest travel destinations in Central America. That doesn’t mean that one should be naive. A right amount of respect for the country, as well as the people and their culture and politics are important. But common sense is also appropriate here. That means you should z. B. not leaving your luggage unattended anywhere, not sharing a taxi with strangers at night or generally not driving in taxis or staying in shady areas. Or in general you don’t just hang around alone. So actually nothing that you would not consider at home or on other trips.
- Do you have to be concerned about the many active volcanoes?
It is true that some volcanoes are still active. However, there is no danger to visitors if you follow the rules and instructions. The national park around the lava lake of the Masayavolcano is z. B. only accessible in a vehicle and only if this area is classified as safe. The statements and predictions about this are very reliable, as the volcanoes are monitored around the clock. So there is no need to panic, should something appear, we would of course take appropriate precautions here as well. Otherwise: enjoy the landscape and the imposing volcanoes, climb and surf!
- Dry season, rainy season, etc…. What does that mean for my vacation?
Since Nicaragua is located in the tropical region, there is intense solar radiation there all year round. The resulting strong evaporation ensures a very high level of humidity. However, this hot and humid climate enables a breathtaking diversity in the flora and fauna of Nicaragua. Numerous tropical plants stretch their heads high and provide a diverse food base for colorful birds such as quetzals or mammals such as howler monkeys and sloths. The latter in particular are always a great sight when they – seem very sleepy – hang in the tree and eat.
With an annual average temperature of 25C °, the wonderful tropical weather is usually easy to bear! In coastal areas, the average daytime temperature is 30-34C ° and the night temperature is 20-23C °. It is best to travel at the beginning of the “dry season” in December to February, as well as July and August. During these months you can look forward to blooming plants at very pleasant temperatures. However, if you still want to travel in the rainy season, you should be prepared for rain. Especially in the months of May to November it gets relatively wet, whereby the temperatures do not fall below 18C °. However, this should not be an exclusion criterion, as the sun will also shine and occasionally it will only rain briefly and you can still do a lot for the rest of the day. But that depends entirely on the area, so just keep in mind when choosing the travel time or the travel area, because without the rainy season there would be no rainforest. But don’t worry, you will be able to swim all year round, as the water temperature is at least 21C ° all year round.
- “¡socorro!”,Or what was the Spanish word for “help!” ?
You can’t speak a word of Spanish, but would still like to go to Latin America? No problem! In the event of an emergency, you don’t have to despair! Our colleagues in our local partner agency also speak English and will be at your side with words and deeds during your Nicaragua vacation. If you are traveling in a tour group with a German-speaking tour guide, there is certainly no problem, as he can always translate. However, a small pocket dictionary can do no harm if you B. would like to explore the country individually. The Nicaraguans are a very friendly and very helpful people and go out of their way to help you when you get lost.
As you have already read, there is no reason not to travel to Nicaragua. If you want to weigh up between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we can help you. Costa Rica has a little more nature and a larger fauna that you can find in the rainforests, but Nicaragua also has colorful colonial cities that loosen up a trip between all the nature experience. You can simply stroll through a market, visit historical buildings or enjoy the Central American hustle and bustle with a snack.
You can get to know Nicaragua both individually and on a group tour. A rental car is a great way to get around the country. But if you are still a little unsure, especially because of the language barrier, you can spend a relaxing holiday on a group tour with a German tour guide. Individual post-programs can always be included. So trust yourself and get to know the country, which is still quite “quiet” from a tourist point of view. We are of course always at your side with advice and action!