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Nicaragua probably conjures up visions of vicious civil wars, arms deals (remember the Reagan administrations fiasco with the Iran-Contra affair where the Americans were selling arms to Iran before shipping more arms off to the Contras with the profits?). Nicaragua was one of the major pawns in the Cold War in the region, and is now the poorest country in Central America. However, it really doesn't feel that much poorer than Honduras, or much of Guatemala - not that that means it isn't poor. I went to Nicaragua with few expectations, and this was probably a good thing, as it was, in my opinion the least interesting country from a travel point of view we have visited so far on this trip. Having said that, there were some definite highlights.

Nicaragua Granada church Leon

Granada is a real gem of a colonial city. Built on the shores of massive Lago Nicaragua this is a thoroughly charming colonial city with hundreds of reasonably well preserved buildings. Leon also must have been a nice city, and does have some fascinating churches, including the largest in Central America, but many of the buildings are in a very poor state and in urgent need of repair.

Nicaragua Isla de Ometepe Volcano jungle tourism

We spent a few quiet days on Isla de Ometepe, an island made from 2 massive volcanoes in Lago Nicaragua. The countryside was lovely, but the insect life was just spectacular - a walk down one of the dusty roads was like walking in a butterfly park with hundreds of different, brightly coloured butterflies including the huge, metallic, stunning Blue Morpho butterfly which can grow up to 15 cm across! We were thrilled, but this was especially exciting for Ange as she had been really looking forward to seeing these.

Back on the mainland we said good-bye to Dee (she was off to El Salvador) before catching the bus to Costa Rica, where we are now.

Tomorrow we are off to walk through a nature reserve (we are in Monte Verde for those that know the region) and will hopefully have photos of lots of amazing wildlife for you to see in the next edition.