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Nicaragua travel guide

About Nicaragua

Fabled land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua also lays claim to vibrant colonial cities, deserted beaches and wildlife-rich rainforests. Its vibrancy is all-encompassing, and the hospitality of its people is renowned throughout the Americas. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is also one of the safest and cheapest countries that constitute the ‘gringo trail'. That visitor numbers to this sun-drenched sanctuary are only increasing should come as no surprise.

What Nicaragua lacks in standout cultural attractions it compensates for with natural beauty. Its reefs and rainforests are hotbeds of biodiversity and teem with jaguars, monkeys and myriad bird species (though how this idyll will look after the Nicaragua Grand Canal has been built remains to be seen).

The country’s wild landscapes are fertile ground for thrill-seekers. Visitors can go hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming in the country’s iconic crater lakes. Whether you want to ride some of the world’s best waves, speed along zip-lines above the jungle or scuba dive along shelves of iridescent coral, Nicaragua has it all. Sound too much like hard work? Then kick back on the twin peaks of Ometepe Island, overlooking the shimmering Lake Nicaragua, or catch a boat into the Indío Maiz Biological Reserve, the largest area of virgin rainforest north of the Amazon.

Those hankering for the city life should head to León or Granada, two of Central America’s prettiest colonial cities. Both are hubs for travellers and represent gateways to nearby attractions. From León, you can climb the Maribios volcanic chain, go ‘volcano-boarding’ down the slopes of the still-rumbling Cerro Negro or pick coffee beans in the temperate northern highlands. Granada, meanwhile, is the ideal base to explore Masaya’s volcanic park, in particular, Volcano Acatenango, or zip-line over Mombacho’s cloud forest and take a cooling swim in Laguna de Apoyo.

For surfers, head to San Juan del Sur in search of the perfect wave, then spend your evenings dancing the night away in the city - made famous for its nightlife and the renowned ‘Sunday Funday’ festival. Others can abscond to the Corn Islands, an archipelago that offers everything you'd expect from the Caribbean, minus the sky-high prices. So grab a beer and join the party – it’s only just begun.

Key facts

Area:

130,373 sq km (50,337 sq miles).

Population:

6,285,000 (UN estimate 2018).

Population density:

52.2 per sq km. (UN estimate 2018)

Capital:

Managua.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Daniel Ortega since 2007.

Head of government:

President Daniel Ortega since 2007.

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