By Neil Kook
Last time we covered Peru, now we explore the Top 10 Things to do in Nicaragua this year.
Topping some of the most prestigious ‘go to’ lists for 2015, Nicaragua is fast becoming one of the hottest destinations on the planet. The rich intoxicating mix of engaging indigenous culture, faded old-world colonial charm, contemporary political intrigue, warm welcoming friendly people, and stunning natural beauty & wildlife are all set against a backdrop of breath taking volcanic scenery and verdant coffee plantations. One step ahead Central America Revealed has shared with TLE what to do when in Nicaragua. One day, perhaps, I will be there, dust boarding down an active volcano. Wait, what!?
1. Dust Boarding Active Volcanoes
Yep. Cerro Negro is Central America’s youngest volcano and the first in the world to offer the unique activity “ash boarding”. The phenomenon, also known as volcano surfing, sees adrenaline junkies strap boards to their feet and coast down the 1,600 foot ash slopes of the most active volcano in Nicaragua, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph whilst speeding down the 41 degree angle run.
2. Zip Lining through the Jungle Canopy
When the heat of the volcano becomes too much visitors can take a trip to Granada to experience canopy zip lining at its finest. Perched 1,000 feet above the Mombacho jungle this breath taking experience offers panoramic views of the neighbouring volcano and Lake Nicaragua’s shores.
3. Indigenous Jungle Routes to Ruins
Don’t forget the jungle! Located at the heart of the India Maíz jungle in South Western Nicaragua the ruins at Canto Gallo are thought to date back between 3,000 and 5,000 years. The site contains more than 10 pyramid structures and many smaller stone constructions all created from the same blue/grey stone. Local Rama guides are the only people who know how to access the site which is set in the depths of the jungle and in 2015 they will begin guiding small groups to visit the ruins.
4. A Surfers Paradise
Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast is a mecca for surf lovers worldwide. Located a little further off the beaten track than neighbouring Costa Rica or Mexico the coastline provides ideal conditions for surfers of all levels. Head to the secluded coastal town of San Juan del Sur to catch some of the best waves to be found in Central America.
5. Colonial City Culture
Explore Nicaragua’s rich colonial heritage in Granada and Leon, visiting some of the perfectly preserved architecture, vibrant culture and historical churches. Take a horse drawn carriage ride through the city streets and relax with a cup of locally grown coffee in one of the café lined squares.
6. Turtle watching on the beach Venture to La Flor beach to spot native Olive Ridley turtles. Here, extensive conservation efforts are underway to ensure that the population continues to flourish in the region. Tourists are able to participate in protecting these endangered turtles by aiding hatchings on their first journey from the sand to the shore, helping to ensure their safe arrival in the warm Pacific waters.
7. Your Barrier Reef
There are endless opportunities for underwater explorers in Nicaragua. The Corn Islands for example, are surrounded by a barrier reef system which provides a wonderful ecosystem for snorkelers and divers to discover. Those who adventure onto the reef can expect to see vast arrays of coral, tropical fish, schools of turtles and even a dolphin or two! Be sure to respect the reef.
8. Coffee Plantation Paradise
Coffee is Nicaragua’s principle product and has formed an important part of the country’s history and economy. Head to the Matagalpa region to visit sustainable coffee plantations and learn a little more about the bean that fuels our morning routines.
9. Hike Miraflores
Explore the natural beauty of the Miraflores National Park in Esteli, northern Nicaragua. Wander through a mystical cloud forest, cross burbling rivers and admire cascading waterfalls on a day-long or multi-day trek and enjoy the peaceful serenity of this unspoilt reserve. For those looking to embrace the local lifestyle, there are many programmes that allow visitors to get involved ranging from teaching in local schools to partaking in traditional farming, with all proceeds from the programmes being reinvested in the community.
10. The Locals
Visitors to Nicaragua will be sure to encounter some curious locals. From howler monkeys and anteaters to opossums and sloths there is never a shortage of wildlife to spot. Looking up into the canopy parrots, parakeets, toucans and motmots make this beautiful landscape their home. For those who prefer to stay along the coast, whales, turtles, dolphins and manta rays are frequent visitors to Nicaragua’s shores.
For further information or to book a bespoke tailor-made holiday to Nicaragua you can head to www.centralamericarevealed.co.uk
If you are really interested and want to put your money where your mind is, a 7-night package is currently on offer:
7-Night Nicaragua Thrills & Spills Package
· Economy Class Return Flights London-Managua-London, via a single same-day connection in Miami on American Airlines
· All transfers (incl. arrival/departure/place-to-place/excursion piuck-up & drop-off)
· 7 nights accommodation
o 2 nights B&B in Leon at Hotel Flor De Sarta
o 3 nights B&B in Granada at Patio de Malinche
o 2 nights B&B in Tola at Buena Onda Beach Resort
· Included Excursions
o Volcano Dust Boarding at Cerro Negro (Leon)
o Rainforest Canopy Zip-lining Mombacho (Granada)
o Surfing at Palya Colorado (Tola)
§ Additional optional city, cultural and wildlife tours also available for free days
· From £1,648 per person, based on 2 people sharing a double/twin room, this could be the thing for you.