Nicaragua is a nature lover's paradise of deserted beaches, pristine rainforests, freshwater lakes and rumbling volcanoes. Once viewed as a 'no go' holiday destination, Nicaragua has overcome civil unrest, dictatorship and natural disasters, and is now a hot contender for those in search of an idyllic beach holiday or ecotourism break.
With no shortage of picturesque scenery, Nicaragua offers a quieter alternative to nearby Costa Rica. The locals are gracious, the scenery is untainted and there are plenty of distractions from simply lying on the beach.
In recent years the country has begun focusing on developing its ecotourism appeal. Realising that untouched habitats can attract just as many tourists as a grand resort, many small scale hotels have taken root. Volcano hikes and rainforests treks are often part and parcel of hotel services and private tours and home stays are becoming increasingly popular.
Hurricane Felix made landfall on the northern tip of Nicaragua on 4 September 2007. There are reports that electric power in the north of the country has been affected and some phone lines are down, making communications difficult. Exercise caution if travelling in the affected areas. Visitors should monitor local weather conditions and the National Hurricane Centre for updates.
The American Dollar, either in cash or travellers' cheques, is the only foreign currency, which is freely exchangeable in Nicaragua. Travellers are advised to journey with caution in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) due to the remoteness of this area. There have been occasional incidents of violent crime in Bonanza, La Rosita, Siuna and Little Corn Island. It is not recommended to walk alone after dark.
Managua is prone to strikes and demonstrations. Visitors should avoid all public gatherings or demonstrations, which have occasionally turned violent and should also be aware that road blocks may occur on main roads during strikes, affecting access to and from the airport.
Dengue Fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. In 2007, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of dengue. Malaria is also endemic to Nicaragua while there are occasional cases of cholera and leptospirosis.
In October 2007, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health confirmed over 1,500 cases of leptospirosis which has left 9 people dead to date. The departments of Chinandega and Leon are the worse affected. Brigades from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, Armed Forces and other government institutions have been attending victims in the affected areas and working to prevent further spread of the infection.
Visitors should carry a photocopy of the personal details page from their passport at all times for identification purposes. Road safety is also an issue.
It is advised not to hike without an experienced guide on volcanoes or in remote areas.
The hurricane season in Nicaragua normally runs from June to November.
The threat from terrorism is low but travellers should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: