Posts Tagged ‘things to do in nicaragua’


 

Our trek from Rancho Los Alpes near Leon to Laguna Apoyo was  scenic, easy and uneventful. After saying goodbyes to our new friends, Michele from New Zealand, Axel and his family, Alma and her parents Jim and Gina, we hit the road. Getting a much later start than we anticipated we still made it to Lake Apoyo well before dark. We found a route around the city of Managua, bypassing the traffic which added a little extra time to our travels. Stopping for lunch, getting gas and keeping things moving it didn’t take long before we found ourselves driving higher in elevation. With the temperature dropping and the forest getting thicker, our excitement grew. Suddenly there it was, a huge blue lake surrounded by forest. It was obvious we were in the crater now. Tiny villages dotted our path as we made our way, as children and adults waved eagerly. “Hola” we hollered. Check in at Paradiso Hostel was easy, setting up camp not so much, but as usual we made it work. Meeting many folks from all over the world here is just half the fun. Today we’ll hike up to  Volcano Masaya and peer down into an active volcano. Stay tuned for pictures and thanks for following.

 

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If you’ve been paying attention to Central America, and like us thinking about a place outside of America to call home, you’ve probably notice that Nicaragua is getting a lot of hype. We jumped on the band wagon a few months ago as we discovered how affordable Nicaragua is, also the people are very friendly, and the US dollar is widely accepted. So we were very surprised, and maybe we shouldn’t have been when the Huffington Post published this article confirming our findings. Should you consider Nicaragua as opposed to the high cost of living in Costa Rica now? Check out this link:

13 Reasons To Get To Nicaragua Before Everyone Discovers It


Making travel plans for Central America in 2015. We offer consulting. No matter what your means of travel are, overlanding, backpacking, biking, hiking or cycling. We can tell you the best places to stay, must things to do, and certainly make your Central American vacation an adventure you’ll never forget.

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Ometepe, 10 things you need to know before you go.

 

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1. Past Indian inhabitants regarded it as their promised land and a sacred island.

2. Chorotega, Nahuatl and Mayans left a multitude of pre-Columbian artifacts spread all over the island.

3. Ometepe is considered one of the great rock art areas of the world .

4. The Conquistadores converted the indigenous people to Catholicism, but many old customs and beliefs were integrated into the Christian faith.

5. On Ometepe people celebrate more religious and folk festivals than anywhere else in Nicaragua.

6. The volcanoes, visible from everywhere on the island, are a powerful and ever-present feature.

7. The volcanic ash makes the soil extremely fertile and the land yields abundant crops.

8. Many farms have turned over to sustainable farming practices, and many hotels on Ometepe serve their own, self-grown fruit and vegetables.

9. Tourism on Ometepe is picking up and a new kind of traveler mingles with the usual backpacker on their Central-America journey.

10. Low-impact eco-tourism is very popular on Ometepe which in 2010 was designed as a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO.

We noticed many NGOs here. Many organizations foster rural and communitarian tourism to the mutual benefit of local families and visitors interested in an authentic experience. We are absolutely enjoying our stay here and are making plans to one day return soon, and so should you.

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One of the first things we noticed when exploring San Juan del Sur, was the giant statue of Jesus that sits high on the hill overlooking the city.

As soon as we saw it, we knew we’d be in for a physical challenge. Can we drive to it, can we walk, oh what do we do? Finally we all decided collectively that we should take the Land Rovers and drive up to it or get as close as we could and then hike the rest. We were running short on time and wanted to pack in as much fun, travel and adventure as we could around San Juan del Sur.

After endless winding roads of hills, and cutting through million dollar home neighborhoods,  we turned a corner and saw the backside of the statute before us. However we still had a way to go. We were now in Pacific Marlin, home to some of the most spectacular real estate and scenery in the San Juan del Sur area.  Then, we were stopped by a security guard that explained to us that we could drive no further and had to hike the rest of the way up. Navigating the steepest stairs ever, we found a sign the explained it was a 2 dollar entrance fee to go in. We were not going to hem or haw as to whether we were going to pay to go in after doing such a big hike, we were willing to pay just to get back on flat ground and take a rest break. After paying the attendant (bring small change) from there it was just a final clamber up another set of steep steps before you reach the statue.

Erected in 2009, Christ of the Mercy has quickly become an iconic landmark and is a geographical reference point for the town. At  24 meters (77.8 feet) in height, it’s one of 10 of the largest Jesus statues in the world. The statue looks out over the beach and entire town of San Juan del Sur. Under the statute was a small church, which additionally had displays about how the statue was constructed. Also it was interesting to note that former President Jimmy Carter visited here in December 2013.

Standing atop this monumental treasure was San Juan del Sur, laid out in front of us. We could see everything. A pedestrian bridge that reminded us of a mini Golden Gate, boats and ships at anchor, the Pacific Marlin with its sharply cut cliffs and million dollar views, it was well worth the effort. Behind us was a series of rugged hills and secluded coves rising and falling into the distance, with additional views of the coastline. I’m sure somewhere out there we were looking into Costa Rica. The view is a full 360 degrees. If you’re ever in San Juan del Sur, this should not be missed. Say your prayers before, during and after the climb!

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By Bernard Barbour
Photos by Scott Woodhams

“There’s nothing like speed and the prospect of injury (or death) that can make you feel so alive.” I don’t know who said this originally, but on this day it became a profound mantra for me. It all started when all of us were challenged to pick “the one big thing” we would like to do as we made our trek across Central America from Belize to Panama. Just before departing Belize, Scott boasted that we would be going Volcano boarding. Okay I said, nonchalantly going along with whatever everyone else in the group wanted to do, I had no idea what I had just volunteered for.
I went online a few days later to do a little investigative research and this what it read ”
Hike the youngest volcano in Central America, last erupted 1999 and is the most active in Nicaragua.
Hike up the rocky side and surf down the sandy side.
This volcano is a wonder of nature a pure black cone.
Visit two activate craters, feel the heat, smell the gases and enjoy the views.”
Now I’ve done some adventurous stuff and this sounded easy enough! Well I was so wrong! I should have read more into the hike up and smell the gases. Or maybe the “feel the heat part” I skimmed over. Trust me when I tell you it was not fun sweating to death after climbing, choking on sulfuric gases and feeling additional heat from the ground on your feet from the volcano. What was I thinking? However I do digress, it wasn’t that bad and that one minute rush of adrenaline coming down, I’ll never forget. But let me get back to the details of this adventure..
Volcano boarding is an extreme sport performed on the slopes of a volcano using a thin plywood or metal board. Boarders hike up the volcano and then slide down either by standing, sitting or lying down on their bellies facing forward. Our activity was arranged by our guide through Tierra Tours,(www.tierratour.com).
Manny our guide and his driver came to pick us up from our hotel at 8 am sharp. It was cool getting to ride in an old diesel Land Cruiser, and we chatted about the truck a little on the ride. For only $30.00 USD this adventure included transportation to the Volcano, park entrance fees, snacks, bottled water, a board, goggles and a jump suit. Manny was very knowledgeable. He took the time to explain the geology of the volcano and waited for the straggler (me) on our hike up (45 mins). It was only the three of us so he took additional time to let us crawl down into a smoking sulfuric crater and play around before ascending all the way up to the boarding launch area.
The hike up was not an easy one, but doable. The searing sun was sapping the energy out of me, but with a nice constant breeze it was not too bad. Only when the wind died down for a few seconds did I really feel the heat. As we were carrying our boards across our backs, occasionally a nice strong wind would spin us around, push us forward or pull us back. The thought of what would Jesus do ran across my mind a few times as I felt like I was carrying a cross.
Climbing the Cerro Negro is not like any other volcano in Nicaragua. The volcano is only about 500 meters high (675 meters above sea level), but the ascent is steep and tough. There is no paved trail, just a natural path along a rim that leads to the top. The absence of trees provides fantastic scenery, and we had a great 360 degree view. You can view a volcanic chain including the Telica and San Cristóbal lined up one after another from the top.
Once we arrived to what I will refer to as the board staging area, Manny briefed us. To go as fast as you could, put both feet on the board and lean back. To steer left, right or brake use your feet. The faster you go, the more dangerous it becomes. About this time I was looking for the board that had a seat belt and airbags, no luck. Finally in my head, I convinced myself that this was going to be easy but inside I was petrified. Standing there looking down the volcano thinking what leg would I break first or maybe an arm, I somehow mustered up the courage and volunteered to go first.
Although, this thrilling descent takes less than a minute before reaching the bottom, we had a blast. Once we reached the bottom we had some refreshing fruit and plenty of water to stay hydrated. On a scale of 1-10 of fun, exciting and must do things in Central America, volcano boarding ranks tops on my list.
If you are going to attempt this here are a few tips. Do control the speed of your slide with your feet and bring a bandanna to wrap around your nose and mouth. You’ll thank me.

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