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14 day Nicaragua Itinerary...thoughts?

Boulder, Colorado
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238 posts
12 reviews
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14 day Nicaragua Itinerary...thoughts?

My girlfriend and I are both in our early 30s and we are planning a 14-day (bookended by two travel days), 15-night trip in Nicaragua. Both of us are fit and active, love the outdoors, and are excited to see all of the natural beauty that Nicaragua has to offer. Neither of us is much of a city person, so while we're there our city excursions will likely to limited to eating local food. Cities will likely serve as jump-off points for our volcano hikes and water activities. We don't like museums but wouldn't mind going to a coffee plantation or a rum distillery to see how the good stuff is made. We're trying to pack in 5 destinations, which I know seems like a lot for two weeks, but we've put a lot of thought into this and I think it's doable. We plan on traveling mostly by bus two get from one destination to the next. Here is our proposed itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive at Managua International Airport. Travel to Leon.

Day 2: Leon

Day 3: Travel to Jiquillilo.

Day 4: Jiquillilo.

Day 5: Travel back to Leon.

Day 6: Travel to Granada.

Day 7: Granada

Day 8: Travel to Ometepe via San Jorge ferry.

Day 9: Ometepe

Day 10: Ometepe

Day 11: Travel to Managua via San Jorge ferry, take 2:30 pm flight to Corn Islands.

Day 12: Corn islands

Day 13: Corn islands

Day 14: Corn islands

Day 15: Flight back to Managua, stay somewhere in Managua.

Day 16: Reluctantly catch a flight back to the states.

Is that too much to try to fit in, considering that we won't be spending a ton of time exploring the cities themselves? I realize that the Leon-Jiquillilo-Leon jaunt seems a bit odd, but geographically it makes sense, and logically it seems that breaking up the travel time from Jiquillilo to Granada might make sense. We agreed that if we're going to cut out any particular destination, it would be Jiquillilo, and that we could tack a day onto Ometepe to climb Concepcion and maybe another day onto Granada or Little Corn. What are your thoughts on this itinerary?

Paris, Canada
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1. Re: 14 day Nicaragua Itinerary...thoughts?

Although I love Jiquilillo I would skip it. A lot of travel for one full day there but more importantly you just need more time in Leon (and will have beach time on the Corn Islands). I think you would enjoy a day in Leon even if you are not into churches and museums. It is a neat city with great restaurants, bars, nightlife. If you do only one thing there visit the roof of the cathedral for the view of the volcanoes. Also, try the street food behind the cathedral. BUT : if you love hiking, nature, volcanoes you should really go to Cerro Negro which is a half day trip (yes, volcano boarding is fun, although I like running down, but Cerro Negro also has great views and an amazing active crater). Also, I highly highly recommend the overnight volcano Telica trek. The campsite, the sunset, standing/lying on the edge of the steaming crater, the noise, seeing lava at night !, the sunrise... all breathtaking. That would be 4 days and if you really want to go to a beach there, check out Las Penitas (great waves), a 30-45 minute bus ride away.

You can see Granada in a few hours (climb up La Merced) and you may like the isletas (there are boat tours but we prefer kayaking). You may have time your second day for volcano Masaya or Lake Apoyo or volcano Mombacho. Ometepe deserves at least two days especially if you use one day for Concepcion. That is a very hard climb : a real challenge, a feeling of accomplishment, great views at the viewpoint, if you are lucky and the top has no clouds it must be incredible, if the top is clouded (which was the case when we went) you don't see much but it is a slightly scary, crazy place : the very strong cold wind, the grit, the warm steam from the crater, the warm earth, the realization that this is a very active volcano... Quite an experience. Very steep. The last part is loose volcanic rock. I was often on all fours. And the descent is brutal as well. If you want to go all the way to the top make sure your guide knows. Lots of guides try to turn people back at the viewpoint (it does get very windy and I am not saying it is never dangerous but we have seen too many people turn back while others went on).

If you have only one other day on Ometepe try to see Charco Verde (beach and nature trail, great view of Concepcion and fun ziplining with nice views right next to the reserve), Ojo de Agua (natural spring pool) and the Balgue or Merida area... Not many buses on Ometepe depending on where you are going (and hardly any on Sundays), taxis not cheap, but you can rent a motorbike or scooter (and we have hitchhiked).

You can easily do all this by public transport.

2. Re: 14 day Nicaragua Itinerary...thoughts?

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