Top events in Nicaragua

December
07

Otherwise known as the Gritería (shouting), at 6pm every 7 December a cry is heard from cathedrals and churches around the country: “Who causes so...

January
17

Also known as the Festival of San Sebastián, this vibrant religious festival is dedicated to the city's patron saint. It’s a unique combination of...

February
02

Poets from around the world gather in a variety of venues, including churchyards, colonial courtyards and parks, for a week-long celebration of...

Lake Nicaragua
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Lake Nicaragua

© www.123rf.com / Michael Zysman

Nicaragua Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

130,370 sq km (50,336 sq miles).

Population

5.8 million (2013).

Population density

44.4 per sq km.

Capital

Managua.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1821.

Head of state

President Daniel Ortega since 2007.

Head of government

President Daniel Ortega since 2007.

Electricity

120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin plugs are used; not all sockets have space for a grounding pin however.

Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes, is also the land of lush forests, deserted beaches and vibrant colonial cities. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, Costa Rica without the crowds – for now.

The largest country in Central America is still one of its least visited. Peaceful for over 25 years, it’s still waging a battle against a lingering negative image of a war-torn country. Ironically, it’s officially the safest country in Central America. It’s also its poorest – only Haiti is worse off in the Western Hemisphere.

During the 1980s, Nicaragua attracted an army of sympathetic internacionalistas who volunteered to work in the fields as an act of solidarity with the revolutionary government. Now an increasing number of visitors are attracted by the country’s natural beauty.

Go hiking and biking, kayak along jungle rivers and swim in crater lakes. Explore steamy rainforests and mist-wreathed cloud forest. A wildlife wonderland, it’s home to howler, white-faced capuchin and spider monkeys, jaguars and crocodiles, as well as a multitude of birds and butterflies. And there’s plenty to satisfy the most exacting adrenaline junkie: speed along zip lines, surf the Pacific breakers, even surf down active volcanoes.

Kick back on twin-coned Ometepe Island, rising out of the silver flat surface of Lake Nicaragua. Or catch an open-sided boat along the San Juan River into the heart of the Indío Maiz Biological Reserve, the largest area of virgin rainforest north of the Amazon.

Colonial León, the cultural capital, is a hotbed of revolution and poetry, and the starting point for climbing the Maribios volcanic chain, where you can snowboard down the black ash slopes of still-rumbling Cerro Negro. Or pick your own coffee in the temperate northern highlands around Matagalpa and Jinotega.

San Juan del Sur has long been a haunt of surfers in search of the perfect wave, a place to chill by day and party after dark. Further afield, the Corn Islands tick all the Caribbean boxes without the price tag. Explore the reefs, dine on lobster, then flop into a hammock with only the rustle of palm fronds to disturb you.

Picture-perfect Granada is a colonial gem and one of the oldest cities in the Americas. It’s the ideal base to explore Masaya’s volcanic park and barter at its colourful handicraft market, witness centuries-old fiestas, zip-line over Mombacho’s cloud forest and cool off with a swim in the crystalline crater lake of Laguna de Apoyo.

For all its beauty, the welcoming Nicas are the country’s finest asset. Revolution, civil war and natural disasters may have taken their toll on the country’s infrastructure, but its resilient people remain warm and welcoming, and intensely proud of their culture and traditions.

Those with more time can learn Spanish at a not-for-profit school or volunteer with a local charity. Then grab some rum and dance the warm tropical night away to the sultry rhythms of salsa.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 21 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

There’s no British Embassy in Nicaragua. If you need emergency consular assistance, contact the Honorary Consul in Managua - jose.taboada-honcon@fconet.fco.gov.uk or the British Embassy, Costa Rica.

There was an increase in seismic activity in April 2014. See the Natural disasters section for advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

The rainy season normally runs from May to November. Hurricanes can affect Nicaragua during this period.

Around 10,000 British tourists visited Nicaragua in 2013. Most visits are trouble free.

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and there has been a recent significant increase in the number of reported cases.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

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