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12 days Nicaragua

Arnhem, The...
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12 days Nicaragua

Hi all!

My Girlfriend and I are travelling to Nicaragua in August and staying for 12 days.

Volcanos and cloud/rain forests. history and culture and (swimming) beaches are the things we are looking for.

After reading some of the threads we were thinking of visting Granada (3days) and Ometepe (3days). Also we read that Léon was a good city to visit (some said better then Granada some completely ignore it), so we are not sure wether this is a good idea.

Beachwise we were thinking of going to pearl lagoon (first corn island but the trip by boat kind of scared us off).

We also read something about it being less safe????

Does anybody have any suggestions for us, they will be very welcome,

thanks,

Douwe

Paris, Canada
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1. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

Copy and paste of the reply I gave on Thorntree :

Granada can be explored in a few hours and you can go kayaking the isletas (there are boat tours but we prefer kayaking). Possible day trips : volcano Mombacho (cloud forest), Laguna Apoyo and the pueblos blancos, volcano Masaya. Then a bus to Rivas, taxi to San Jorge, boat/ferry to Ometepe. Not sure if you would like to actually climb a volcano ? Ometepe has two very different ones (one has cloud forest). You can also stay at Charco Verde (beach, nature trail with wildlife). Other things to do : Ojo de Agua (natural spring pool), waterfall hike, kayaking...

I love Leon and I would certainly include it. Not only is it a great city with nice churches, museums, great view from the cathedral roof, delicious street food behind the cathedral... but Leon is also an excellent base for volcano hikes. Cerro Negro is great : nice views, active crater and you board or run down. Telica is amazing, I highly recommend the overnight camping trip (the sunset, standing/lying on the edge of the crater, the lava at night, the sound, the sunrise... all breathtaking). Close to Leon is a nice beach town Las Penitas : fun to play in the waves and there is a nature reserve as well (where you might be able to see sea turtles lay their eggs).

To get to Leon from Ometepe is a long travel day but if you time it right you can visit the Masaya volcano on the way. Take an early boat/ferry. Sometimes express buses for Managua wait for the ferries, if so take one. Or take a taxi to Rivas and take a bus from there. You can get off at the entrance of the volcano if you like (you should not leave the volcano later than 1 pm if you want to make sure you arrive in Leon before dark). Or skip Masaya and go on to Managua. If you arrive at another bus station than the UCA, take a taxi to the UCA and a minibus to Leon.

All this assuming you have 12 full days.

Or : Granada, Ometepe and a night ferry to the Rio San Juan (San Carlos) for rainforest and wildlife (Los Guatuzos wildlife refuge, El Castillo, Indio Maiz). Harder to plan though as the night ferry only goes Mondays and Thursdays and boats to Los Guatuzos don't go daily either.

Edited: 26 April 2015, 02:39
Houston, Texas
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2. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

Sonia, great info as usual. Thanks.

I am pretty sure I will bypass Granada or only spend a day there.

Leon seems a better Nicaraguan experience.

Granada Nicaragua
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3. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

I differ with "ignore Granada". True you can see the actual city in 1/2 a day, but you should use it as a base to visit Mombacho...you can see the cloud forest on top of the steaming volcano without a grueling hike which you may not make on Ometepe as it will be muddy and difficult (however if you can do, it)....take nice hike in the real tropical forest on Mombacho with lots of birds and wildlife and hikes that are scenic but not just for the 'hiking". Certainly more of a natural and "Nicaraguan" experience than boarding down the volcano up north which is about as un Nicaraguan as you can get....a waste of most of a day. Also, a good tour of the isletas from Granada will take almost 1/2 a day...kyaking is nice but if you go with a guide in a boat you will see much more. Plus, from there you can tour the Laguna...30 minutes away and the White villages. So that is what you will get in Granada or Mombacho...it's about as much "Nica" as you can get.

True Leon is nice...but it too has limits to what more than two days will bring and more than that is not a great idea. You can go to Ometepe from Mombacho or Granada very easily and when you are done get from Ometep to Leon without difficulty.

Consider the ferry to Rio San Juan...that is a real Nicaraguan experience and once down there you will fine it very nice with lots to do....

12 days lets you do a lot...including Granada/Mombacho, Leon, Ometepe...and if you do a short trip to Ometepe you could fit in the rio San Juan.

Paris, Canada
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4. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

#2 : you have 8 days and want to take photos of city life and architecture. I still think you should not skip Granada. Start there and if you don't like it move on to Leon. Maybe you will even want to stay 2 days. Also, I still think you could use your transition day (Granada to Leon) to explore Masaya and/or the pueblos blancos.

OP : a day trip to Mombacho would be good from Granada. An easier way to see cloud forest than climbing volcano Maderas on Ometepe for sure.

As for volcano Cerro Negro : we enjoy the ride to the volcano, very rural area. It is a very active volcano. The views are great (panoramic views of other volcanoes and of the lava flows) and seeing the active crater (or even walking in it... depends on how active the volcano is and on the guide) is amazing. The volcano is about much more than the boarding. I like to run down myself but of course lots of people do like to say they have been volcano boarding and it is fun. It is a half day trip and really worth it. If you do have more time I still highly recommend volcano Telica as well !

Granada Nicaragua
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5. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

I pretty much agree with Sonia...sooner or later the OP will have to make some choices.

My recommendation for Mombacho is in tune with hers...not that others are not awesome hikes...but Sonia is fit and an avid hiker and seems to be able to deal with some discomfort on the trail...don't we all wish for that. But some are hard and can ruin the experience if not ready. Mombacho has hikes but you cn get to the top and the cloud forest easily., where on others, take more effort. Or get in shape!!

Arnhem, The...
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6. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

Thank you all for your help! We are now trying to figure out how the ferries work. Our problem is that we arrive on the 12th (Wednesday-night) at the airport in Managua. From there the idea is to go to granada. From granada to Ometepe and then from Ometepe to San carlos, there we want to go down the river (maybe to El Castillo). We also would still like to visite Léon.

We just don't really see how we will be able to do this because of the ferry times.

Granada Nicaragua
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7. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

Bus from/to Granada takes 6 hours to San Carlos. Each day...not sure of times, but will be posted.

Doing Granada, the Rio and Leon and Ometepe will be tough time-wise...can do but rushed.

Paris, Canada
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8. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

And when are you leaving ?

Okay, Wednesday the 12th you go to Granada. Spend the 13th there (explore city and isletas). 14th : Mombacho. 15th : go to Ometepe. 15th, 16th and 17th : Ometepe. The evening of the 17th (Monday) go to Altagracia on Ometepe and take the night ferry at 6 pm to San Carlos. You will arrive early and you can take an early boat (there are 2-3 fast boats and more slow boats) to your river lodge (for example Sabalos Lodge) or to El Castillo. Tuesday : Indio Maiz. Wednesday : travel day : back to San Carlos and early bus (no later than 8 am) to Managua (6-7 hours), taxi to the UCA bus station, 2 hour minibus to Leon. (Or one extra day Rio San Juan and fly to Managua on Thursday, that would be much better of course). Last 3-4 days Leon.

It is a busy itinerary... With 12 days (only 10 full days ?) I would focus on Granada with day trips, Ometepe and Leon (with volcanoes and beach).

Or : Granada, Ometepe and Rio San Juan. I loved wildlife refuge Los Guatuzos (4 hours by boat from San Carlos) but like I said before... that alone is 3 days.

9. Re: 12 days Nicaragua

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