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Holidays in Nicaragua

Understanding Nicaragua


Tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands The weather during the dry months can be very hot in the Pacific lowlands The Atlantic coast sees an occasional hurricane each season In the past, these hurricanes have inflicted a lot of damage


Extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes making for some majestic landscapes Nicaragua is dotted by several lakes of volcanic origin The largest, Lago de Nicaragua, is home to the only fresh water sharks in the world Managua, the capital, sits on the shores of the polluted Lago de Managua

Natural hazards : destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides

Highest point 
Mogoton 2,438 m


Nicaragua was entered by Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century The pre-Colombian Indian civilization was almost completely wiped out by disease, enslavement and deportation Nicaragua then became a Spanish colony; Granada is one of the oldest colonial cities in the American continent During the colonial period, Nicaragua was part of the Capitania General based in Guatemala

Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838 Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades

One of the most colorful personalities of Nicaraguan history is William Walker Walker, a US southerner, came to Nicaragua as an opportunist Nicaragua was on the verge of a civil war; Walker sided with one of the factions and was able to gain control of the country, hoping that the US would annex Nicaragua as a southern slave state With designs on conquering the rest of Central America, Walker and his filibustero army marched on Costa Rica before he was turned back at the battle of Santa Rosa Eventually Walker left Nicaragua and was executed when he landed in Honduras at a later date The US Marines also invaded Nicaragua several times One of the cities who witnessed an invasion was San Juan Del Sur The General Sandino, seeing them as invaders, took the war to them, which lasted over 5 years, until the marines disoccupied the country

The twentieth century was characterized by the rise and fall of the Somoza dynasty Anastasio Somoza Garcia came to power as the head of the National Guard Educated in the US and trained by the US Army, he was adept managing his relations with the United States After being assassinated, he was succeeded by his sons, Luis and Anastasio Jr "Tachito" By 1978, opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes and resulted in a short-lived civil war that led to the fall of Somoza in July, 1979 The armed part of the insurgence was named the Sandinistas; named after the liberator of Nicaragua, Augusto Cesear Sandino Due to the nature of the Sandinista government, with their social programmes designed to benefit the majority, and their support for rebels fighting against the military government in El Salvador, the USA felt that they were a threat, and organized and trained guerilla forces throughout most of the 1980s Peace was brokered in 1987 by Oscar Arias, which led to elections in 1990 In a stunning development, Violeta Chamorro of the UNO coalition surprisingly beat out the incumbent leader Daniel Ortega

Elections in 1996, and again in 2001 saw the Sandinistas defeated by the Liberal party During the 1990s the country's economic policies saw a shift in direction aiming to transform Nicaragua to a market economy Managua's downtown area was vastly damaged by an earthquake in 1972, which killed more than 10,000 people, and in 1998, Nicaragua was hard hit by Hurricane Mitch As of 2007, Nicaragua remains the second poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti


There are about 56 million Nicaragüenses in Nicaragua The majority of the population is mestizo and white Nicaraguan culture has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but enriched with Amerindian sounds and flavors The main language is Spanish, which is spoken by about 90% of the population


Tourism in Nicaragua is growing at 15% to 20% annually Tourists are coming for the beauty and richness this country has to offer From eco-tourism, adventure, beach, colonial cities, nightlife, and a low cost of living, Nicaragua has experienced a booming number of tourists from around the world The places where tourists are hanging out and having a good time are in the colonial cities of Granada and Leon, the Pacific Coast, hiking on the volcanoes, and in the Caribbean coast in the Corn Islands

There is much to see and do in Nicaragua, and it is a budget paradise due to the fact that everything in Nicaragua is cheap Tourism has grown over 300% in seven years, with tourists arriving from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany Bars, discotheques, restaurants, and hotels are opening at a rapid rate in the cities of Granada, and Leon San Juan Del Sur is experiencing a surfing tourism with surfers from around the world comming to catch some of the greatest waves ranked as one of the 5 best in the world With a land filled with festivals, poets, singers, and beauty, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should not dream of visiting this beautiful country

Talking in Nicaragua

Spanish is the official language, do not expect to find many English spoken outside of the larger and more expensive hotels Creole, English and indigenous languages are spoken along the Caribbean coast Nicaraguans tend to leave out the s at the end of Spanish words "Vos" is often used instead of "tu", something which is common throughout Central America, though "tu" is used occasionally and will always be understood by Nicas

Buying stuff in Nicaragua

If entering the country from either Honduras or Costa Rica by land, get rid of those currencies as they are hard to exchange away from the border

The national currency is called the Cordoba As of January 2010, there are 209 Cordobas to one US Dollar The government deflates the currency about 5% every year to be competitive with the dollar Most places accept dollars but you will often get change in cordobas and businesses will give you a lower exchange rate Make sure you have some cordobas handy when using collective buses, taxis, or other small purchases Nearly all banks exchange Dollars to Cordobas but lines are often long, and you may have to use your credit card to get money rather than your bank card Make sure you bring your passport when exchanging money All ATMs give Cordobas and some can dispense dollars too Make sure that the ATM you're using is part of the networks listed on the back of your bank card Though you may be able to find some ATMs that work on the Mastercard/Cirrus system, most will use only the Visa/Plus system

If you need cordobas when the banks are closed or you can't use your ATM, street licensed money changers or cambistas can be found Always count your money, though mistakes are rare if you use members of the cambista cooperative The rate of exchange can be better or worse than at the bank However, it is rare during normal hours M-F 9-5 and Saturday to Noon to get a worse rate than the banks, though near the markets you might do as bad Latest example January 2010 - Bank pays 2049 per US$1, cambistas offer C$2080 In Managua, money changers can be found near Pizza Valentis in Los Robles, beside the Dominos Pizza near the BAC Building, and in the Artesania area of Mercado Huembes among other places

Most modern stores, especially Texaco Star Mart, Esso On The Run, La Union supermarket owned by Wal-Mart will take US currency at a rate no worse than banks, with change in Cordobas C$ Limit the bills to US$20 for best success Cambistas have no problem with US$50 and US$100 bills They won't accept Euros, Canadian money, or Traveller's Cheques checks

If you are going to take one thing home from Nicaragua it should be a hammock Nicaraguan hammocks are among the best made and most comfortable ever The really good ones are made in Masaya, ask a taxi to take you to the fabrica de hamacas, the mercado viejo or the mercado nuevo You will find the most variety and best prices in Masaya A simple one person hammock should cost under US$20 Hammocks are also sold in the Huembes market in Managua, which has the only large local goods and arts and crafts section in Managua

Nicaragua also produces excellent, highly awarded rum called Flor de Caña This is the most common liquor drunk in Nicaragua Those aged 4 go for Extra Light over Extra Dry or Etiqueta Negra and particularly 7 years Gran Reserva are a great buy for the money - about US$4-6/bottle Buy in the local stores as the prices at the duty-free airport shops are higher Gran Reserva is the best value based on price and quality

A trip to the artisinal towns of the "Pueblos Blancos" is the most rewarding way to shop for local arts and crafts Located just 10 minutes from Masaya, 30 minutes from Granada and 40 minutes from Managua, these towns are the arts and crafts center of Nicaragua Katarina is home to dozens of nurseries with plants as diverse as this lush tropical country can produce, and also boasts a beautiful view over the Laguna de Apoyo volcanic crater lake where you can enjoy the view from numerous restaurants San Juan del Oriente is the center of pottery production You can find dozens of mom and pop studios and stores, meet the artisans and choose from a dazzling and creative array of vases, bowls and other ceramic items Some of the best shops with more original designs are a few blocks into town off the main highway Finally, Masatepe is known for its furniture--particularly wicker and wood, and with a special focus on rocking chairs, the favorite Nicaraguan chair Although you might not be able take any rocking chairs or ferns home with you on the plane, it definitely worth "window" shopping in these picturesque towns You can also find San Juan del Oriente pottery, Masatepe furniture and other arts and crafts in Masaya, Mercado Huembes in Managua, and in the streets of Granada, Leon and other places visited by tourists Remember to bargain Although you may be a tourist, you can still bargain

Food and eating in Nicaragua

Food is very cheap A plate of food from the street will cost 20-50 cordobas A typical dinner will consist of a meat, rice, beans, salad and some fried plantains, costing under US$3 Buffet-style restaurants/stalls called "fritanga" are very common, quality varies quite a bit A lot of the food is fried in oil vegetable or lard It is possible to eat vegetarian: the most common dish is gallo pinto beans and rice, and most places serve cheese fried or fresh, fried plantains and cabbage salad There are a 'few' vegetable dishes such as guiso de papas, pipián o ayote-- a buttery creamy stewp of potato, zucchini or squash; guacamole nica made with hard-boiled eggs, breaded pipian zucchini, and various fried fritters of potatoes, cheese and other vegetables If you like meat, grilled chicken and beef is delicious, the beef is usually good quality but often cooked tough; also try the nacatamales, a traditional Sunday food, that is essentially a large tamal made with pork or beef and other seasonings ~15 cordobas Indio Viejo is a corn meal masa based dished made with either shredded chicken or beef and flavored with mint The typical condiment is "chilero" a cured onion and chile mixture of varying spiciness depending on the cook Nicaraguan food is not known for being spicy, though either chilero or hot sauce is almost always available

Nicaraguan typical diet includes rice, small red beans, and either fish or meat Nicaraguans pride themselves for their famous gallo pinto that is a well-balanced mix of rice and beans and is usually served during breakfast

Plantains are a big part of the Nicaraguan diet You will find it prepared in a variety of forms: fried subdivided into maduros/sweet, fajadas/long thin fried chips, and tostones/smashed and twice fried, baked, boiled, with cream or cheese, as chips for a dip, smashed into a "toston" Green bananas and guineo bananas are also boiled and eaten as side dishes

Nicaraguan tortillas are made from corn flour and are thick, almost resembling a pita One common dish is quesillo: a string of mozzarella-type cheese with pickled onion, a watery sour cream, and a little salt all wrapped in a thick tortilla It can be found on street corners or in the baskets of women who walk around shouting "Quesiiiiiillo" The most famous quesillos come from the side of the highway between Managua and Leon in Nagarote they also serve a local drink, tiste and La Paz Centro The best selection of cheeses, from quesillo to cuajada, is in Chontales

A typical dish found for sale in the street as well as in restaurants is Vigoron, consisting of pork grind, yuca and cabbage salad, chilis can be added to taste

Fritangas mid to large street side food vendors and grills that usually have seats and are found in most residental neighborhoods typically sell grilled chicken, beef and pork and fried foods They also commonly sell "tacos" and "enchiladas" that can be delicious but have very little in common with their 2nd cousins-once-removed in Mexico Tacos are made with either chicken or beef rolled up in a tortilla and deep fried, served with cabbage salad, cream, sometimes ketchup or a homemade tomato sauce, and chile on the side They are a little like a Mexican taquito/taco dorado "Enchiladas" don't have anything enchiloso about them not spicy They are a tortilla filled with a beef and rice mixture, folded in half to enclose the mixture, covered in deep fry batter and then yes, deep fried They are served similarly to tacos

One alternative to the fried offering in the typical menu is carne en baho This is a combination of beef, yucca, sweet potato, potato and other ingredients steamed in plantain leaves for several hours

One typical dessert is Tres Leches which is a soft spongy cake that combines three varieties of milk condensed, evaporated and fresh for a sweet concoction

If you travel to Chinandega, ask the locals who sells "TONQUA" It is a great fruit that is candied in sugar and is ONLY available in Chinandega Most Nicaraguans outside of Chinandega do not know what Tonqua is Tonqua is a Chinese word for a fruit, because tonqua is a plant that Chinese immigrants introduced to the Chinandega area

Drinking in Nicaragua

Rum is the liquor of choice, though you will find some whisky and vodka as well The local brand of Rum is Flor de Caña and is available in several varieties: Light, Extra Dry, Black Label, Gran Reserva aged 7 years, Centenario aged 12 years and a new top-of-the line 18 year old aged rum There is also a cheaper rum called Ron Plata

Local beers include Victoria, Toña, Premium, and Brahva Victoria is the best quality of these, similar in flavor to mainstream European lagers, while the others have much lighter bodies with substantially less flavor, and are more like mainstream US lagers A new beer is "Victoria Frost" which is similarly light

In the non-alcoholic arena you will find the usual soft drinks Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola Some local drinks include pinolillo' and cacao are delicious drinks from cocoa beans, corn and milk and usually some cinnamon, a thick cacao based drink, Milka', and Rojita, a red soda that tastes similar to Inca Cola

Nicaraguans drink a huge variety of natural fruit juices and beverages jugos naturales which are usually pure juices, and refrescos naturales which are fresh fruit juices mixed with water and sugar Popular are tamarind, cantelope, watermellon, hibiscus flour flor de jamaica, limeade, orange, grapefruit, dragon fruit, star fruit usually mixed with orange, mango, papaya, pineapple, and countless others "Luiquados" or shakes of fruit and milk or water are also popular, most common are banana, mango or papaya with milk Also common and very traditional are corn and grain based drinks like tiste, chicha both corn, cebada barley and linaza flaxseed Most fresh drinks are around C$10-20 Avoid juices made with water if you are not conditioned to untreated water, unless at a restaurant that uses purified water

Accommodation in Nicaragua

Accommodations can generally be had quite cheaply throughout Nicaragua Options range from simple hammocks $2-$3, to dorm rooms in hostels $5-9, to private double-bed "matrimonial" rooms $10-35, depending on presence of TV, A/C, and private bathroom You will find more expensive hotel accommodations in some cities as well

While Barrio Martha Quezada has typically been a budget destination for visitors to Managua due to its many inexpensive hotel options, it has become increasingly dangerous, especially for tourists, with robberies occurring in broad daylight Unless you need to be in this area to catch an early morning bus from a nearby terminal, it is advisable to avoid Martha Quezada, particularly since it is far from what is termed the "new" center of Managua The area near the Tica Bus station has a reputation for being dangerous as well, and tourists may be well advised to take a cab directly to and from the station, even if the walk is short Backpackers Inn near MetroCentro 5min by taxi from the UCA microbuses, Hotel San Luis in Colonia Centroamerica 5 min by taxi from Mercado Huembes bus terminal are good budget options in safe neighborhoods, as are numerous hotels of various prices in neighborhoods around the new center near Metrocentro and Caraterra Masaya ie Altamira, Los Robles, Reparto San Juan

The Managua Backpackers inn is a great place to stay while in Managua It is very clean and it is in a quiet neighborhood The owners are amazing and if your lucky, you might have a beer with one of them at night There is a pool and free internet access and wi-fi on location A kitchen is also available for use

Look for pensiones or huespedes or hospedajes as these are the cheapest sleeps costing under US$5 They are usually family owned and you'll be hanging out with mostly locals Make sure you know when they lock their doors if you are going out at night Hotels have more amenities but are more expensive There are some backpacker hostels in Granada, San Juan del Sur, Isla Ometepe, Masaya, Managua, and Leon otherwise it's pensiones all the way

Working in Nicaragua

Employment opportunities for foreigners is limited Since the country has a strongly agricultural and touristic economy, it can be difficult finding employment prospects

One job of particular interest to foreigners is teaching If you are a native English speaker and have a bachelor's degree, you can teach at any major Nicaraguan university The same also applies for other fields Be aware, however, that courses and majors at Nicaraguan colleges and universities are limited However, a degree can help you secure a good job and enough spending money during your stay Instructors earn about US$500 a month and have plenty of free time to roam around Opportunities have also become available for other languages, particularly romance languages However, if you desire to teach a course other than English, it is best to consult with the university of your choice and see if they are willing and able to have you teach your course If this is something you wish to do, you are advised to create a syllabus in advance It can help you, the applicant, obtain the position faster and easier compared to not having any material at hand available

Foreigners also enjoy volunteering In Nicaragua, there are various opportunities for community service Most of the organizations in Nicaragua can be used in obtaining community service hours for any organization or any college/university requirement Look into organizations like the Fabretto Foundation 9 Abundance Farm 10, a small family-run farm in Carazo, accepts volunteers but screens them through email prior to arrival It is a taste of the real Nicaragua and not for the faint at heart

Cities in Nicaragua

acoyapa  belen  bluefields  boaco  bocana de paiwas  bonanza  camoapa  chichigalpa  chinandega  ciudad dario  condega  corinto  corn island  diriamba  diriomo  dolores  el jicaro  el sauce  el viejo  esteli  granada  jalapa  jinotega  jinotepe  juigalpa  la concepcion  laguna de perlas  la paz centro  larreynaga  la trinidad  leon  managua  masatepe  masaya  matagalpa  mateare  matiguas  nagarote  nandaime  nandasmo  nindiri  niquinohomo  nueva guinea  ocotal  puerto cabezas  puerto morazan  quilali  rio blanco  rivas  rosita  san carlos  san isidro  san jorge  san juan del sur  san lorenzo  san marcos  san miguelito  san rafael del sur  santa teresa  santo domingo  santo tomas  sebaco  siuna  somotillo  somoto  telica  ticuantepe  tipitapa  villa sandino  waslala  waspan  wiwili  

What do you think about Nicaragua?

How expensive is Nicaragua?
Meal in inexpensive restaurant4 USD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)17.65 USD
McDonalds meal5.98 USD
Local beer (0.5 draft)0.95 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.43 USD
Cappuccino1.49 USD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)0.86 USD
Water (0.33 bottle)0.6 USD
Milk (1l)1.15 USD
Fresh bread (500g)1.25 USD
White Rice (1kg)0.97 USD
Eggs (12) 2.34 USD
Local Cheese (1kg) 4.5 USD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 3.21 USD
Apples (1kg) 3.75 USD
Oranges (1kg) 1.31 USD
Tomato (1kg) 1.2 USD
Potato (1kg) 1.26 USD
Lettuce (1 head) 1.38 USD
Water (1.5l)0.85 USD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 9.83 USD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)0.9 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.56 USD
Cigarettes1.22 USD
One way local bus ticket0.11 USD
Monthly pass for bus7.52 USD
Taxi start0.68 USD
Taxi 1km0.73 USD
Taxi 1hour waiting4.44 USD
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.08 USD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment100.24 USD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 15.98 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 225.4 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 138.13 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 427.41 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 300 USD, your travel companion

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