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Nicaragua: Land of Lakes and Volcanoes

''Climb up volcanoes, surf against violent tides and end the day with delicacies by the beach''

Still untouched and undiscovered. Pack your stuff and get on-board for a thrilling adventure before it becomes a crowded and an expensive travel destination. A peaceful wild location with colonial era touch and an ideal place for surfing, kayaking, fishing, trekking and relaxing.

LOCATION : In Central America

MUST VISIT CITIES : MANAGUA:
The capital city of Nicaragua and home to many beautiful buildings and museums. The San Sebastian festival takes place in Jinotepe during the third week of January, which combines religious themes with folklore and theatrics. Travel to La Loma in the outskirts to shop or see a volcanic lagoon and the footprints of Acahualinca, the prints of people and animals captured in volcanic rock from an eruption that occurred around 4000 B.C. The international airport is also located here. Within Managua, the urban bus network is quite extensive.

SAN JUAN DEL SUR:
A hit with surfers and backpackers, owing to its dramatic coastline and incredibly beautiful beaches. San Juan del Sur is located between two volcanic headlands and is on a large horseshoe bay along the pacific coast of Nicaragua, which is a natural harbor and home to fishing boats, sail boats and private yachts. The place has a number of surf schools that offer tutions and equipment on hire. A small fishing village once is now a hot spot for tourists and one can find affordable options of restaurants, hotels and bars here. Those not interested in surfing can shop, eat and dance until dawn at a disco. Cruises to Nicaragua often dock at San Juan del Sur's harbor.

GRANADA:
Is a must visit for colonial era architecture, churches, museums, hidden courtyards and historic buildings converted to boutique hotels. Popular places in the town centre are:
The grand cathedral at the main square
The tower at Iglesia de La Merced
Antiquo Convento San Francisco, a museum with an exquisite pre-Colombian collection
Fortaleza de la Polvora, a small medieval fort

About 20-minute driving distance from Granada is Laguna de Apoyo a volcanic lake in town Masaya.

LEON:
Known as country’s intellectual capital, visit the place for its cathedrals and colonial homes. Remnants of the political war between the Somozas and Sandinistas can be seen in the graffiti and murals around the city. Be sure to visit the Museum of the Revolution for Sandinista movement. Cerro Negro Volcano is León’s most famous volcano. Sandinista Fort located on the hill of Acosasco gives a bird-eye view of Leaon, the ocean and the volcanic mountain range of the Maribios. The old city of León was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000. Food and crafts stalls are quite active here. Enjoy a mojito made with the local Flor de Cana rum at Bigfoot Hostel or Via Via across the street. Other places of interest include Sesteo Restaurant near Cathedral and Main Square, Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of León and Poneloya Beach.

OMETEPE ISLAND:
The island sits within Lake Nicaragua and formed of two volcanoes - Concepcion and Maderas. It can only be accessed by a boat. A perfect place to unwind for a few days with adventure options such as hiking volcanoes, kayaking and cycling. Transportation within the island is a challenge if you get stuck on the far side of each volcano. Car rentals are also very high. Also visit Charco Verde Nature Reserve for large populations of the white-faced Capuchin monkey and Ompete's coffee plantations.

TOLA
Surf the best waves of Nicaragua at Tola, also referred to as the ‘Nicaraguan Riviera, with dramatic coastline and pristine beaches, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There are ample options of hotels, eco-resorts, condos, and private beachfront homes. Other places of interest include Chacocente Natural Reserve, the small fishing village of Gigante, and Guasacate besides activities such as horseback riding, hiking, fishing, surfing, or just hanging out on the beach.

LAS ISLETAS:
On a lake near Granada is Las Isletas a chain of small islands. A home to wild nature, resident birds and visitors, it’s also an ideal place for a boat ride or kayaking.

LAGUNA DE APOYO:
A place worth taking time out to explore and enjoy a variety activities, from hiking, diving to kayaking. It’s a 48-square km lake on the Apoyo volcano crater. It’s a beautiful setting with clear water for swimming and activities including birdwatching, paragliding and boating. There are a handful of small local restaurants that serve fish, typical Nicaraguan food and cold beers, and lots of lodging options. The main attraction is Catarina, the viewpoint of Laguna de Apoyo. The abundant flora and fauna, calm and clean water of the lagoon and green slopes of the crater make Apoyo an incredible destination.

CORN ISLANDS:
A paradise for those wishing to enjoy tranquility of the virgin beaches. On the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands are a gorgeous place for a vacation retreat and to enjoy white sand beaches, turquoise clear waters, coconut forests and the coral reefs. Most people come here to snorkel, scuba dive, to fish, and to relax. Small boats will take you between the different islands. Several flights from the local companie La Costeña depart each day. Alternatively, Big Corn Island can be reached by taking the ferry that departs once a week from El Rama.
Brig Bay which is the main town of Big Corn Island, the 'downtown' area, that gives options in hotels, restaurants and shops.

FOOD & DRINK : Rice and beans are the bases of most meals and are an integral part of a casado, which consists of cabbage-and-tomato salad, fried plantains (a starchy, banana-like fruit), and chicken/fish/meat dish of some sort. The national dish of Nicaragua is Gallo Pinto, a mix of red beans and white rice, which is actually quite delicious.

Vegetarians may have a hard time with usually nothing more available than shredded cabbage topped with a slice or two of tomato at most locations. The capital cities have the best choices regarding restaurants, with everything from Italian, Brazilian, and Chinese eateries. . Nicaragua’s local cuisines share some flavors and ingredients with Mexican food.

Nicaraguans consume corn tortillas with most meals and drink coffee with hot milk at breakfast and black with sugar the rest of the day.

Fruit is often served as dessert in both countries, but there are some other options for sweets, as well. Queque seco, literally "dry cake," is the same as pound cake. Cajetas are popular handmade candies,
made from sugar and various mixes of evaporated, condensed, and powdered milk.

Nicaragua produces some of the best rum in the world, the most famous brand of which is called Flor de Caña. The whole region is known for chicha, a sweet, fermented corn beverage, and an even stronger variation known as chicha brava.

THINGS TO KNOW : Nicas tend to have an early breakfast and then have long, leisurely lunches to avoid the midday heat. Many mid-range restaurants offer a comida corriente, a three-course set menu that works out cheaper than ordering a la carte. New restaurants, particularly in Granada, are starting to take traditional dishes and give them a contemporary spin.


Source / Review By : Stephan Bayley

Team Triponomics

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