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Thread: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

  1. #1

    Default Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Hello!

    First I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Grzegorz and I live in Poland.

    I'm planning a trip to Nicaragua in February. I'm still reading and reading and reading gaining every day more knowledge about my destination so there's not a lot of questions (yet) but just some plan sharing.
    - I've never been to any country south of USA but visited some poor and strange regions in Asia, Middle East and Africa.
    - I speak Spanish. Maybe not very fluent but usually I have no problems in Spain.
    - I'm planning to go to Nicaragua with my friends: probably 4 men and 1 woman.
    - I plan to rent a car and drive a lot visiting different regions.
    - Probably I have only two weeks for my entire trip.
    - I'd like to see some nature, eat some tasty food, spend a day or two on the beach, walk a bit, meet nice people etc. Nothing special, just vacations but not bound to one place only.
    - I do not know "official" ranges but I think I'm rather budget traveler.

    General suggestions are welcome but if they are really general – probably I've found them already :)

    The questions for now are:
    - dress code, expecially for woman. She is young blond chick and I'd like to know what she would wear to be (and feel) safe. I'm pretty sure we will never leave her alone. ;)
    - "Las Minas" – Bonanza, Siuna etc. Makes it sense to include this region in my trip? Or should I choose something better if I have only two weeks?
    - should I avoid Managua? I'm trying to arrange my plans to exclude this city but maybe I'm too scared.
    - what about mosquitoes in February? Will I meet them?
    - is Isla de Ometepe worth visiting? If so – makes it sense take our car there? I know it's possible but little bit complicated and now I need some real advice about this destination.

    Probably I'll have some questions about car (now thinking about Toyota 4runner or Suzuki Grand Vitara) but first I have to be perfectly sure with people count. Usually there's no real problem with car seats but we will have large suitcases because Nicaragua is only one of the parts of longer trip including really cold regions and trunk capacity may be an issue.

    To be continued… ;)

    And thank you in advance!

    Grzesio

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    2 Weeks is a short period of time in Nicaragua, so you may want to think twice about which regions you would like to visit. Sometimes the traveling can take quite a bit of time, and thats not even the time that you will spend pulling over and snapping pictures at things you see on the road.

    Managua is a place where you might want to spend 1 or 2 days tops, if you enjoy the past 100 years of history and landmarks in Nicaragua, if not, theres really no need to spend much time here.

    Granada, plenty of full day activities with the home base in town. Hiking Mombacho for the day. The Islands for a day. Touring the city for a day...

    Leon, also a good central location to spend a few nights, visit the North Pacific beaches, Tour the city, and visit Cerro Negro for some Volcano boarding.

    Matagalpa, with a car, this might be the best place for a central point between visiting Jinotega, and Esteli. There is plenty to see in all 3 towns and their surrounding areas.

    San Juan del sur, for some enjoyable beach time, and nature tours to the North and South of town.

    Ometepe is a must, but leave yourself a few days for this location, plenty of Nature and hiking.

    If you enjoy nature I would suggest picking fewer regions and spending more time in each exploring. Don´t plan to much for one day. One major activity, a good meal, and some relaxation time, the travel time and running around will just make you need another vacation when you get back to Poland! The more time you can spend in each hotel the better, all the checking in, unpacking and packing can get to be a real pain and sucks away precious time.

    Also don´t pack to much, some jeans, some Tshirts... A polo shirt and jeans is sufficient for going out at night. If you have really thin blood, some nights can get a bit chilly in some regions, bring 1 light sweatshirt. For the lady in your group, the blond hair is a real eye catcher here, if she does not feel awkward with men staring at her and maybe some whistles, wear whatever she wants, believe me the girls hear wear some really tight and small clothes. In the Northern region jeans or knee high skirt and a blouse are fine. In areas like Granada and San Juan del sur, she can probably wear just about anything she feels comfortable in.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Thank you very much for your answer. It gives me useful hints for preparing my trip.
    You are probably right I should slow down and relax exploring some places instead of spending vacations in a car. I'll think about it but I'm perfectly sure I'll accommodate my plans when I see the "real Nicaragua".
    Thank you for girl dress code tips. It's one of the most important things because she is a little bit scared. Your tips give her some comfort.
    BTW what about road maps? Is there something useful available to buy in Nicaragua? I have some really nice computer based maps but they cannot substitute real piece of paper.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Quote Originally Posted by grzesio View Post
    Thank you very much for your answer. It gives me useful hints for preparing my trip.
    You are probably right I should slow down and relax exploring some places instead of spending vacations in a car. I'll think about it but I'm perfectly sure I'll accommodate my plans when I see the "real Nicaragua".
    Thank you for girl dress code tips. It's one of the most important things because she is a little bit scared. Your tips give her some comfort.
    BTW what about road maps? Is there something useful available to buy in Nicaragua? I have some really nice computer based maps but they cannot substitute real piece of paper.
    There is a road map and tourism guide that is sold in many gas stations in Managua, I have 2 or 3 of them around the house. I think they sell for about 4 dollars. They offer one overall foldout Nicaragua map with major roads, a Managua road map on the other side, and a map of each major town-city in Nicaragua (these maps of the other towns are VERY basic drawings). I have to dig up the maps later, they are around here somewhere, I forget the name of it specifically, probably NOT available online. If you can´t find it, I may be able to loan you one of mine, when you get into Managua. I would not be surprised if your rental car agency does not have one or can get you one.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Thanks again

    If I know such map exists and I can buy it on gas stations - I'm happy.
    There are some countries with no such map at all...

  6. #6
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Welcome! As for dress, I would say dress as you would in Europe, but with a tropical climate in mind (no wool or heavy fabrics, no jacket required). With long pants and a nice short sleeve shirt or blouse you won't stand out in the crowd. For the lady, a dress or skirt of any length will probably stand out like a sore thumb unless it's a formal night out; jeans or slacks would fit right in 99% of the time.

    How do you pronounce your name, just out of curiosity?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    OK, this dress sugestion makes sense for me. It sounds lighter than "normal" recommendations in islamic countries

    And about my name...
    G is like G in "Girl"
    RZ is pronounced as one letter similar to si in "viSIon". Like english "sh" but stronger. Or like french "J"
    E -like e in "End" or "bEd".
    G - same as the first one - Girl
    O - like o in "pOt"
    RZ - again like stronger SH like si in "viSIon".

    Pretty simple if you use it all your life

    But you can call me any way begining with "Greg..." Like Gregorio or Gregory.

  8. #8
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    When I try to say that out loud, I sound like I'm drunk and slurring my words, and telling someone to do something obscene

    You are now officially "Greg."

  9. #9
    TRN Member Bigwu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Grzesio,

    When we arrive in Nicaragua we like to spend the first night in the Holiday Inn Select in Managua. They pick you up at the airport and bring you to the hotel. They have a Budget car rental office at the hotel.

    It's so much nicer to let them pick you and your luggage up at the airport, check into a room for the night to get your bearings, then rent the car from the hotel the next morning. Much less hassle than doing it at the airport.

    When we return to Managua we spend our last night at the hotel also, turn in the car, and let them take us to the airport the next morning.

    The Holiday inn is also very close to the Pan American highway which is much easier than negotiating the roads and traffic cops near the airport.

    The hotel has a great restaurant also.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Thanks a lot Bigwu!

    I did such way many times during my trips because it gives me a "buffer" for all unexpeted events especially before departure. This time I planned to rent a car at airport and go to Granada as soon as possible. I'll check this hotel and maybe this makes more sense...

  11. #11

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Greg
    I agree with Tresfrijoles, two weeks is not much however one can still see plenty of Nicaragua. Two years ago I spent two weeks between the Grenada area and Ometepe. Ometepe is not to be missed and like TF says, give some time to seeing the island. Getting around on Ometepe can be time consuming and taxis on the island tend to be expensive. A great way to see a lot of Ometepe is to rent a motorcycle (get a dirt bike,the newer the better!)
    Hotel Central just up the road from the ferry dock in Moyagalpa has decent cheap rooms, good food and a nice bar.
    As mentioned up thread,from Granada its easy to get to a lot of other places. Masaya, SJDS, etc.
    One of the hotels in Granada runs inexpensive day trips out to http://www.craters-edge.com/index.htm on Laguna Apoya. I spent two nites at Craters edge before catching my flight home,very nice!
    Buses in Nicaragua are cheap and easy.Unless you feel that you really need a car I wouldn't bother with one.

    Enjoy
    John

  12. #12

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    John!

    I love vacations without a car... But this time my group requires such transporting and it's impossible to change this. I know I'll miss a lot (i.e. contact with real people, adventure feeling etc.) but have no other option.

    So I'm still thinking about budget vacations (this probably means Holiday Inn is not an option) but with a car.

    Thank you for your suggestions and nice URL.

  13. #13
    TRN's fiesty redhead catahoula fan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Welcome, Grzegorz! Took me a few times, but I got the name now. All the relatives on my momma's side are Polish. The only words I remember my nana using was dzikie świnie (long story and yes, I had to use a translator to spell it )

    Hope you find some helpful info here and share your adventures with us when you can...pictures as well, por favor.
    "Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing."

  14. #14

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Quote Originally Posted by catahoula fan View Post
    ...share your adventures with us when you can...pictures as well, por favor.
    Sure!!

    And about "dzikie świnie"... hmmm... no comments

  15. #15
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Where's Blue Miskitu? His wife is Polish.

  16. #16
    Viejo del Foro El Greco's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Welcome grzesio! If you plan to go to Matagalpa bring a light sweater because it can get into the low 60's at night, Nicaragua is a very interesting place is full of Culture, Nature and Relaxation...I hope you have a wonderful time in Nicaland
    Last edited by El Greco; 12-04-2009 at 12:43 PM. Reason: spelling
    Dios es Amor!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Thank you El Greco!

    I'm going to Nicaragua after some days in Canada so I think I'll have a lot of warm clothes

  18. #18
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Quote Originally Posted by grzesio View Post
    Thank you El Greco!

    I'm going to Nicaragua after some days in Canada so I think I'll have a lot of warm clothes

    Two weeks in Nica after 2 weeks in Canada (In Feb!!)

    Well you will be acclimatised as Poland is a little warmer than here in Feb.. For flights Air Transat flies with good rates out of Montreal if Quebec is on your itinerary on a Tues and Thursday schedule I think.
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  19. #19

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Hello Bill!

    I cannot go directly from Canada and my itinerary will include Seattle and Miami. And from Miami it's pretty nice flight.

  20. #20
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Quote Originally Posted by grzesio View Post
    Hello Bill!

    I cannot go directly from Canada and my itinerary will include Seattle and Miami. And from Miami it's pretty nice flight.

    Oh wait.. You must be one of those lucky Olympic ticket holders...

    The torch runs through my home town on the 20th, and (I think) within 2km of my house on the 27th..

    As per the group my suggestions would be at least 2 of the markets (One in Managua, avoid Oriental unless you are very brave) and then Either Masaya or Leon.

    Masaya has a traditional dance show that is on every Thursday evening at the tourist market..

    Beach... well San Jual Del Sur would be one of them.

    I would say Ometepe should not be missed.. We kinda botched up our visit but even then it was good. Watch out for the Pickup trucks that offer day rates. We found that they get kickbacks from the places they visit and only bring you to those place. Negotiate the points of interest and how long you want to stay at each first and of course the price for the day.. For us it was $10 for 5 hours. We drove about 1/3rd of the shore and stopped in at "Ojos de Agua" for swim and a lunch. The lunch was pricey but the swim was nice, especially for the kids. We ended up in Moyogalpa about 4 and the troupe (7 people) wanted to go home so we did not stay the night. Rates were quite reasonable at $35 / nite / 4 ppl. This was Jan as well.
    Take the larger Ferry at $C70/person. The $C50 might sound attractive but is a smaller boat, takes longer and you end up in a more remote port.

    There is a display of fossilized foot prints in the north west corner of Managua (about 4 blocks from where my wife grew up) that is really worth a visit.. But I suggest you arrange a guide for that area. It is not an area you want to be in without guidance.

    Masaya Volcano is a good visit as well.



    Granada is a must see too.

    And to that I would add Leon..

    Car -- Nothing to fancy or you will draw attention to yourself.

    Foreign remittances are down sharply, 20% of the economy is foreign remittances, people are starting to feel real income loss now.. Just sayin

    On that note- Keep a low profile.. Fancy Watches rings - chains -- Leave them bagged. Old timex and thin wallets is the word here.

    $US or Euro Keep less than $20 visible in public. One member stated that a Cassino may be your best place to exchange money as it is very secure.

    Banks are safe, but the walk to the car or hotel is not..

    You probably know this already from your visits to Africa, but if the above is not known already, be watchful of the situation you are walking into at all times.
    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  21. #21

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    You're right about tickets
    I have some conference in Redmond WA in mid-February and Vancouver is so close...

    Your tips are very useful from my point of view. They are little bit scaring sometimes but I can understand this. It's better to be too careful. I'm thinking about budget travel so my wallet will be thin, car not fancy and my clock is made in Russia.

  22. #22
    Active TRN Member webtrainer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Welcome Grzegorz

    You will have a great time, so enjoy! Just be careful with your blond lady friend, especially in San Juan del Sur. I've spoke with more than one young blond female in the Popoyo area (which is a much quieter beach area away from SJdS) who said she was harassed and felt threatened by one of the local guys when in SJdS. Also, sometimes the local boys will try to make friends with you (the guy) first, in order to get close to the girl.

    I've seen some of the lovely Polish barmaids in Ireland so I imagine your friend fits the profile...its just a precaution, so please come and have a good time.
    Doors of hope fly open when doors of promise shut. -Thomas D'Arcy McGee

  23. #23

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    I'm perfectly sure blond hair (extremely blond actually) may be visible in Nicaragua. We are thinking about some hat or something similar but it's impossible to wear it all the time. Even if we will be safe there's one thing more: she should feel safe. It is important for good vacations...

    We will "guard" her but nobody will protect her against whistles etc.

    I hope everything will be OK. She knows men and has really good instinct about avoiding trouble.

  24. #24
    Our Everlasting Love ! doming00's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Hey do not forget to visit the department of Chinandega, home to nicaraguas tallest volcano San Cristobal. Chinandega is the agricultural center of Nicaragua and there is also the serene beaches here. In the town of Chinandega you can visit the local churches, the central park and the central market were the campesinos travel in the early morning hours in their carretas (horse drawn carts) into the market to sell their produce. We operate a hotel here in the center of town close to all area attractions. Come see us at www.hotelcosiguina.net let me know in advance and I will give you a good rate for your room stay. The Budget Rent a car office is located inside our hotel so if you coming from managua with a Budget vehicle you can drop it off here. Or rent a car from the Budget rent a car office inside our hotel.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Vacations in Nicaragua :)

    Chinandega is on my preliminary list of places to visit. So you may be sure I'll ask you about rooms

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