If you have already visited all the Caribbean and South American winter-vacation countries, it is time to consider a “ new “ Central American vacation country – Nicaragua. It is beautiful, green and warm. The people are nice and friendly too.
Since Sandinistas lost their power around the beginning of 1990’s, Nicaragua has come a long way. The stores are full with merchandise, people are shopping and commerce is vibrant. The country is open for business and more importantly politicians decided to encourage tourism by several means. More and more hotels, bed and breakfast operations, restaurants, and nightclubs are opening their doors for business. The highway system is being upgraded and foreign currencies can be exchanged freely.
While western Nicaragua facing the Pacific Ocean is more populated, the east facing the Atlantic Ocean resembles more to a national park interspersed with a few small fishing villages and idyllic small resorts.
may be considered the safest country in Central America, but more importantly it is still much less expensive than Mexico and all Caribbean countries with more established tourism industries.
The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua offers many opportunities for the tourist to explore. You can check in a resort on the Pacific coast and do absolutely nothing except, relax, swim, eat and drink, or you can enjoy what this interesting country has to offer.
Two airlines operate several daily flights from Miami to Managua and Continental Airlines connects the capital with Houston on at least one flight daily. Once in Managua (there is an entry fee of US $ 5.-) you can check in at Intercontinental Hotel, or Holiday Inn, or Ramada. But there are also locally operated small hotels providing equally luxurious accommodations but charge for less than internationally recognized chains.
Nicaraguan food contains elements of other Central- and South American cuisines, but is more subtle. It uses spices sparingly and herbs more liberally. The population favours beef more than pork or for that matter any other red meat. Poultry and seafood are popular, but less than one would think, given he fact that on both east and west the country borders two great oceans.
Nicaraguan beaches are still as natural as when they were created. Those who like to swim in unspoiled waters will find Nicaraguan beaches most inviting. Hurry before it is too late!
Here is a seven- day itinerary you might want to consider:
Day I – Managua – visit the new Cathedral, and marvel at its acoustics. Take a walk on the shores of the Lake Managua , marvel at the Old Cathedral and visit the Plaza de la Republica. You may also want to see the presidential residence close to the Old Cathedral.
Visit the bustling market and shop for typical paintings, leather goods, consider buying coffee, hammocks and simply wonder at the human traffic on the streets.
At night you can visit a pub, (yes there is an “ authentic pub “), or simply any of the night clubs.
Day II Drive, or better yet, hire a taxi to visit Granada (52 Km), and see the oldest continuously inhabited city in Central America, founded in 1524 by Spaniards. The cathedral shows a pure Spanish colonial style architecture and the plaza in front is as pristine as the first day it was inaugurated. Downtown Granada has an unmistakable “ Spanish “ character with houses opening to courtyards.
Granada, located along the shores of Lake Nicaragua ( the largest in Central America ) has beautiful beaches. You can sail on the lake and marvel at small islands (called isletas) of which there are hundreds.
Day III Visit Volcan Masaya located between Managua and Granada, in the Masaya Volcano National Park, possibly the most visited of all in the country.
This large volcano still steams and belches out of its three craters.
The interpretive centre at the foot of the volcano displays many large-frame paintings created by local artists. The only regrettable thing here is that every bit of information is written in Spanish, although most visitors are American, German, Italian or French!
Nearby El Mirador de Catarina offers an incomparable view of the Apoyo Lagoon, Granada, Mombacho Volcano and both Lakes Nicaragua and Managua, drop by the historic Fort Coyotepe that served to control the valley in the past centuries, but in 1970’s and 1980’s was used as a prison.
Day IV Today a visit to Mombacho Volcano should provide an opportunity to see how old growth tropical forests thrive. The road to the top in this private park is narrow and winding. A four wheel drive vehicle is a must or you can take the remodelled, old sturdy Russian built trucks to the top. The interpretive centre provides ample information about this tropical paradise but only in Spanish. The footpath circumventing the top of Mombacho takes you through forests and offers beautiful vistas to the Lake Nicaragua and the town of Granada.
Here, buy organically grown Mombacho coffee and compare the taste of highland beans versus insipid, processed, brown liquids.
Day V Matagalpa located north of Managua is certainly worth a visit. This region, famous for its coffee plantations, and Ciudad Dario, named after the most famous and talented Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario.
Matagalpa is home to many rivers and small lakes that offer superb fishing. Miraflor and Bosawas Biosphere Reserves are worth visiting; they contain 200 species of mammals, serpents and birds.
Day VI For all visitors to Nicaragua a visit to Leon is a must. Founded in 1524, this city houses the largest number of churches in the country. The Cathedral of Leon is remarkable because of its central location at the plaza and “ colonial Spanish “ religious architecture. Leon viejo’s ruins are a World Heritage sight and should be visited by all interested in history and evolution of civilization. The nearby majestic Volcano Momotombo ought to be in the itinerary of all.
Day VII After a leisurely breakfast, go to the main market of Managua to observe and experience the hustle and bustle of a busy trading centre. Here you can buy the best souvenirs. Stores selling them are clustered providing an opportunity for comparison shopping. In the afternoon spend a few quiet hours by the Lake taking in the serenity of the water and the backdrop of mountains. But you can also go to a café and enjoy a dessert along with an excellent cup of Nicaraguan coffee.
A visit to Nicaragua will surprise as well as enchant you!
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.