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Nicaragua Guide

Granada

This is a truly lovely colonial city. A large, tree-filled plaza leads to many streets packed with large, well-maintained buildings. The market area is worth exploring as are the churches and more out-of-the way streets. Iglesia de Xalteva has great views from the spire. Ask one of the people in the church to let you in for a small fee. The Museo de Granada, one block West of the plaza is less of a museum and more of a grand, old house in near original condition. Certainly worth going into.

We stayed at the Hospidaje Cocibolca which has small, clean rooms with bath for US$12. You can use their kitchen after 11 am. Rooms that do not get afternoon sun are obviously cooler. We tried the Hospedaje Central which had grotty, insecure doubles for US$8. Hospedaje Esfinge by the market would be another good option. The front of this building is a huge, hundred year old house in lovely condition. The rooms off to the side certainly do not have any colonial charm, but are clean and good value at US$8.

On the South-Eastern corner of the plaza next to the cathedral you can get a big lunch for 35 Cordobas. Charcoal grills are setup in and around the plaza at night and you can get a large tortilla with beef and salad, or a bit of BBQ chicken. Cafe Decarte opposite Hospedaje Central is a beautifully renovated building with bottomless tea, coffee, iced-tea and also does delicious chees-cake and other pastries. Prices are a bit higher, but are still good value. Hospedaje Central does large portions of good food. They have a display of all the dishes you can order so you can see what you will be ordering. Many travellers hang around so you will probably see a few familiar faces over a cold beer.

We caught the first bus to Rivas (check bus timetables as these change - ours was at 6). We then bought an onwards ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica a few days in advance before heading to the ferry and Ometepe.

Volcan Ometepe

Ometepe

Two, large volcanoes make up this island in Lago Nicaragua. Unfortunately, almost the entire time they were covered in cloud and it rained. On the couple of brief periods that the clouds did lift the view was good. We stayed at Hotel Castillo in Altagracia with nice rooms with bath for US$4 pp. This is a sleepy little village packed with friendly dogs and pigs. Treks can be arranged up the volcanoes here, but we considered going on a Sunday, only to be told no one went on Sunday. We went horse-trekking to the petroglyphs instead for US$15 pp. We also stayed a night in Moyogalpa in Hotel Ally. This place is grubby and is well overpriced - as are most of the other places in town. Shabby rooms cost upwards of US$6 pp. You may be able to negotiate a slightly lower rate.

I would suggest the if you want to enjoy the volcanoes, wildlife and some great views you should stay by the petroglyphs at Albergue Ecologico (Ph: 0552-8770 ) on the slopes of Volcan Madera. The view, when the cloud lifts is great.

Nicaragua Notes:

Tranport in Nicaragua is greatly reduced on Sundays with less than half the normal buses running. In some cases, bus routes no longer exist meaning you have to take multiple buses to the same desination.

Begging is far more prevelant in Nicaragua then elsewhere in C.A. Old women and young boys begging on the street are a common sight. My personal preference, especially with kids is to buy them a meal or some fruit rather than give them money.

Nicaraguans constantly listen '80's american love songs. Try not to let this nausiating shit ruin your bus rides.

Rivas to Costa Rica

Rivas is the obvious city to catch a bus to Costa Rica if you are coming from Ometepe. All long-distance deluxe buses from Managua to San Jose pass through. We caught a Trica bus, but they the bus wasn't as nice as the competition. Central Line would probably be a better option. Either way, buses go through at various times, the most convenient time if you are coming from Ometepe is midday. These deluxe buses cost about US$4 more than if you local bused it, but they do all the immigration bits for you leaving Nicaragua as well as do the couple of kilometres between the two borders. Costa Rican immigration apparently never asks for an onward ticket anymore.