Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nicaragua’s West Coast in 1 week

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and its beauty and richness attracts more and more tourist. Our trip to Nicaragua led us from the mountains in the north, over volcanos, through Granada down to the beaches of San Juan del Sur.

Day 1: After arriving in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, we drove north to Matagalpa. Matagalpa is located in the mountains and should be visited if you are friend of hiking, bird or monkey watching, history or coffee farm tours.


A nice place to stay is Selva Negra, a full-service ecolodge in the highlands of Nicaragua.

After the long flight and a 2-hour drive from Managua to Matagalpa, we only had dinner and some drinks (Toña and of course Flor de Caña with Coke) at Monkey’s in Matagalpa.

Day 2: After getting ready and stepping outside, the fresh, cool mountain air surprised us a little, but it was a great feeling to start the day with a good outdoor breakfast and of course Nicaraguan coffee on the patio with a beautiful view over the little lake of Selva Negra.

Our first trip led us to through the Nature Reserve with over 20km of hiking trails.

The rain forest in the area of Matagalpa is rich of different plants, birds and insects, reptiles and amphibians. If you are lucky you will even see mammals like howler monkeys. It turned out that we were lucky, and a whole family of howlers was right above us. Incredible feeling, when they started howling their songs, only for us.


Day 3: On our third day, we passed Jinotega and its large lake in the North, and headed to the Somoto Canyon. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the route, because some locals drove us there and arranged the trip for us. It was a tour of about 4-5 hours hiking, swimming, jumping and floating.

Day 4: On our fourth day, we drove to the Volcano Masaya, one of the many active volcanos in Nicaragua. After paying the C$ 65 entrance fee and about a mile driving, we stopped by the little museum, which displayed some interesting facts about volcanos in general and the ones in Nicaragua.

After we knew everything about volcanos, we decided to finally see one at close range. We headed to the peak.

It was so exciting to be on an actual active volcano, which usually doesn’t happen so often. The green fresh vegetation was a beautiful contrast to the black remains of the old lava flow.

On the peak, we were surprised how large Masaya actually is. You can’t see the lava in the volcano, but the steam and sulfur smell made us realize that this is actually an active volcano. Scary.. Unfortunately, it started raining.. No, I should say: fortunately, it started raining. The cold rain evaporated on the hot bottom of the volcano and created spectacular steam clouds.


The recommendation is to not stay longer than 20 min, so we didn’t spend much time up there, but instead drove to El Mirador (The Overlook) in Catarina, Nicaragua. The view over the Laguna de Apoyo was beautiful, and it was really nice to browse through the little market up there.

After lunch, in one of the restaurants located right at the overlook, we drove down to Granada.

Granada is Nicaragua’s historically most important city. It was the first European City founded on the American mainland and the Andalusian appearance makes it architecturally to a very beautiful spot to stay.

Granada offers museums, hotels and many restaurants, which made it very attractive to us. We had enough time to browse through the city in the afternoon, to take a carriage ride in the evening and have dinner in one of the many restaurants in the pedestrian zone on Calzada.

Day 5: On day five, we went to El Centro Touristico de Granada (entrance is on Calle El Caimito) and walked along the lakeshore of Lago de Nicaragua. 

After about a mile, we found locals who wanted to take us out onto the lake and show us the “Isletas de Granada”. We decided to let them talk us into it, which turned out to be a good idea. The tour was great.

The Islands of Granada are a group of more than 350 small islands that were formed when the Mombacho volcano erupted many thousands of years ago. On most of the island you will find vegetation and wildlife (A little monkey took a small piece of mango right off our hand). Many of the islands are even occupied. A great tour!


In the afternoon, we drove down to San Juan del Sur. A great spot for everyone who looks for sun, beach and nightlife!

Day 6: On our last full day in Nicaragua, we pretty much stayed at the beach, went surfing (My first time! So much fun!), and enjoyed the weather, before we drove back to Managua for our last night in Nicaragua.

Day 7:  Except for our breakfast and a last cup of real Nicaraguan coffee, there was nothing to report about. We had to get up very early to catch our flight back home.

We did as much as we could in such a short time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t cover Leon, La Isla de Omepete, the East Coast with Corn Island or the jungle in the South.

Rainforest, historical cities, mountains, volcanos and beaches are just a few of the highlights. 

Nicaragua is a poor country, but beautiful and rich on nature, landscapes and culture.

It was a great experience and definitely worth the trip.

I hope you enjoyed this report. Please leave your comments or questions.

- Thanks for reading and safe travels -

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