We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
AU
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > July 2016 > Central America’s largest country is surprisingly little-known: discover the historic and natural riches of Nicaragua

Central America’s largest country is surprisingly little-known: discover the historic and natural riches of Nicaragua

From the churning waves of the Pacific in the west to the blue lagoons of the Caribbean in the east, Nicaragua is Central America at its most colourful: tropical islands and dense jungle, smouldering volcanoes and storied colonial towns
Nicaragua’s car-free Little Corn Island lies in the Caribbean Sea and was once a regular haunt for pirates
PHOTOGRAPHS PHILIP LEE HARVEY

@OliSmithTravel

@PhilipLeeHarvey

Plan your trip

1 Admire fine colonial Spanish architecture while wandering the tree-lined avenues of the country’s oldest city, Granada (p50).

2 Wonder at strange legends and peer deep into Nicaragua’s volcanic heart on the mysterious island of Ometepe (p52).

3 Pick through the jungle and explore a hidden world in the backwaters of the San Juan River (p54).

4 Slow down your life and play at being a castaway on the peaceful Caribbean sands of Little Corn Island (p56).

5 Buy some poetry from a local or lose yourself in classic Latin American verse in the bohemian university city of León (p58).

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: SAM ARMSTRONG/GETTY, PHILIP LEE HARVEY, FRANK SCHWERE/GETTY, ANNIE SHUSTRIN/TRAVELSHUS.COM

HOW TO GET THERE

Augusto C Sandino Airport in the capital Managua is the main hub for Nicaragua. There are no direct flights from Europe, but you can fly via the US on American Airlines, Delta and United (from £525; united.com). Routes going through Atlanta and Miami are mostly shorter than ones changing at Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston. Many travellers visit Nicaragua as part of a Central American overland trip, with chaotic but functional border crossing points from neighbouring Honduras and Costa Rica. UK nationals can visit Nicaragua for up to three months without a visa. There is a $10 (£7) arrival tax, paid in cash on arrival. The $35 departure tax is normally included in the airline ticket.

HOW TO GET AROUND

Catching domestic flights can make sense in Nicaragua, particularly if you’re travelling the long distance between the east and west coasts. Domestic carrier La Costeña flies from its hub at Managua to – among others – Big Corn Island, Ometepe and San Carlos (Managua–Corn Island from £130 rtn; lacostena.online.com.ni). Colourful old US school buses form the backbone of the public transport network, divided into express services (expresos) and local stopping routes (ordinarios). You pay when you’re on board – just be insistent your luggage stays in the bus and doesn’t get put on the roof. Expect to pay around 70p per hour travelled. Car hire is available at Managua airport (from £25 per day; hertz.com), but be aware road conditions vary wildly across the country: poor surfaces on the Caribbean coast mean it’s best to take public transport here.

HOW LONG TO SPEND

Visiting all the locations featured in our Great Escape should take around three weeks. Nonetheless, you could easily spend well over a month exploring Nicaragua. To extend a trip, consider visiting the artists’ hangout of the Solentiname Islands in Lake Nicaragua, or the surfers’ haunt of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. Putting the Corn Islands aside, Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast rarely features on tourist itineraries and has a fascinating culture.

WHAT TO BUDGET

By Central American standards, Nicaragua is a very affordable destination. Rarely would you pay more than £60 per night for a luxury hotel, and £10 for a top-end meal. If you’re on a budget, roadside meals can be had for around £2 and simple guesthouses booked for about £10 per night.

WHEN TO GO

Nicaragua’s high season follows dry weather from December to April, with price rises in some touristy areas like Granada and León. Low season coincides with the rains from May to October, though there are often spells of sunshine between showers.

WHO CAN HELP

Central American specialist Journey Latin America offers a range of guided group tours and individual itineraries in Nicaragua, staying in mid-range to upmarket hotels and lodges. A 14-day trip featuring all of the locations and accommodation options in our article starts from £2,771, including all flights, excursions and local transport. There are also 18-day group tours from £2,298 (journeylatinamerica.co.uk).

HOW TO PLAN

Lonely Planet’s Nicaragua (£15.99) has more on the country; download single chapters at lonelyplanet.com (£2.99).

ON THE ROAD

Read…

The Jaguar Smile, Salman Rushdie’s book about travelling in Nicaragua in the 1980s, in the aftermath of the leftist Sandinista movement sweeping to power.

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) - July 2016
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - July 2016
$5.99
Or 599 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.00 per issue
SAVE
50%
$17.99
Or 1799 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.75 per issue
SAVE
37%
$44.99
Or 4499 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.49 per issue
SAVE
25%
$4.49
Or 449 points

View Issues

About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

The July 2016 issue of Lonely Planet Traveller UK.
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points