Nicaragua – Must See List

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This country is vastly overlooked by travellers and my question is why? I have put together a brief overview of the key places you should visit based on my 4 cumulative months spent there, and how long to stay in each of the locations.

Ometepe Island

This spectacular island is home to two volcanoes! Do I need to say more? No, but I will.

Rent a bike – thank me later for this suggestion. You will see so much more if you are on limited time. It will be well worth it.

Hire a guide and hike up the volcanos – get those legs moving and climb up the volcanos. Personally I prefer the view form the bottom of the volcano, but if you want the challenge then go for it.

Ometepe display twin volcanos

Petroglyphs – If you are a lover of history then seek out the petroglyphs. Don’t know what they are? Rock art! Ancient rock art.

Hostels – there are some really fun hostels on the island. Have a search on hostel world before selecting the first random hostel you see.

Go nature and monkey sight seeing – you will hear the monkeys in the trees, but can you find them? And can you find the waterfall?

Waterfall in Ometepe

How long? If you are not hiking up the volcanos then 3 or 4 days is plenty.

Masaya

Full of culture, friendly people, excellent nightlife, and beautiful markets.

Things to do:

Laguna De Apoyo – aka The hidden gem of Masaya. My favourite place for a swim in the fresh water lagoon. Panoramic views. Kayak rental, stone beach, restaurants, occasional monkeys and birds… Do not leave this off of your Nicaragua sight seeing tour.

Group shot in the lagoon

Cultural Center Old Craft Market – Get ready to spend all your cash on the amazing hand crafts available here. There are so many things on offer here. Make sure you have room for a hammock or two in your bag.

Near the market you can walk over to visit the Folklore Museum which offers fabulous insight into Nicaraguan culture and history.

Folklore Museum mural

Parque Central – A wonderful place with friendly people and lovely parks to chill out in. Head to the central park for a slice of pizza and wifi. Look around the surrounding bars for a Toña or cafe’s for a nice ice coffee. There are lots of places to jump onto the computer nearby, so bring some change so that you can surf the internet and speak to folks back home when you need to. It is a good idea to base yourself near the park.

Volcano Masaya – This active volcano is well worth visiting. It may be best to join a tour, and if you can visit in the day time and the night time then do it! The contrast is amazing. Its incredible what difference the night sky can make. You can walk to the volcano but the walk is verryyy long. Maybe take a car instead.

Me and Yamil at Volcano Masaya

How long? 4 of five 5 is a great amount of time to see it all.

Leon

Spectacularly colourful. Friendly people with excellent night life.

Cathedral Basilica – visit the biggest cathedral in Latin America for a small price. Admire the architecture and tick it off your list.

Volcano boarding / Volcano sightseeing at Cerro Negro – thrill seekers gather round. I recommend staying at BigFoot hostel for excellent packages and shuttles to experience volcano boarding. The volcano is about 45 minutes away from Leon.

Beaches near Leon – easy commuting distance made easier if staying at BigFoot hostel.

Relaxing in hammocks comes easily in Nicaragua

Walking Tour – find a walking tour and learn about the beauty of Leon.

How long? With day excursions, allow 3 or 4 days.

Granada

This city is the oldest town in Nicaragua and full of Spanish architecture.

Things to do:

Climb the bell tower of Iglesia de La Merced for amazing views across the city. You will need to pay a dólar or two but it is totally worth it.

Visit the Guadalupe Church for a lovely look at the old architecture, then head to the Catedral de Granada for a brightly coloured and completely opposite experience.

Whether you smoke or not, take a tour of the Mombacho Cigar factory. The place is intriguing and you will find their processes intriguing.

Embracing Nicaraguan culture

How long? 1 day or 2 is plenty to see the main sights.

San Juan Del Sur

Surfer paradise, beach vibes only, perfect place to relax and unwind by the sea.

Things to do:

Climb up the hill in my picture below and look out over the sea like a pirate, before coming down to the sand for a necessary sun bathe and sand castle building session. Then jump in the sea to cool off.

Surfing is best done at Playa Maderas if you are experienced and in need of big waves.

Jesus statue – Why not pay a visit to one of the biggest Jesus statues in the world whilst you are here? It is called The Christ of Mercy and costs a couple of dollars to visit.

How long? I love the beach vibe here, so 2, 3, or 4 days can easily be spent here if you love the laid back beach life.

Managua

This bustling city is a bit of a maze. Good luck navigating without a map! There are plenty of bus stops, so getting around is relatively easy.

Things to do:

Antigua Cathedral is a really beautiful location that is well worth visiting. You can spend a good hour exploring and learning about the history of Managua and the building itself.

Shopping – Managua is the perfect place to grab all of your essentials and more. Head for the Centro Comercial Galerías if you want a lot of shops and a cinema, or the smaller Metrocentro.

The best advice for Managua is just to explore. Just ensure you have 3 or 4 days to spend here. There is plenty to see and do. Take walking tours. Head for historical buildings or soak up the bustling city. Use Managua and your entry and exit point for easy access around Nicaragua. Buses are very easy to get from here. Use your spanish and be prepared to get a little lost now and then.

Estelí

Stunning mountains with an abundance of unforgettable views.

Things to do:

Being at one with nature – rivers, mountains, nature. It’s all here in Estelí.

Estelí views are extremely diverse.

“Fat woman” statues – These random statues are beautiful but bizmare. Dotted around Estelí you can expect to find a few of them holding different items. How many can you spot?

El Jalacate – Spend a few hours admiring the creative rock carvings. Paying to enter is not a problem when you see how much work has gone into this place.

How long? Day trips are perfect. But if you are enchanted by the mountains, stay for longer. I stayed for 3 days and have zero regrets.

There are so many things to see and do here! A month overall is recommended if you can get the time so that you can explore these places and more.

I hope that this has helped you plan your perfect Nicaraguan trip.

PeruHop – Peru Journey Plan

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A colleague of mine. and fellow Peru lover, had recommended PeruHop following her trip to the incredible country.

Whilst I am usually the “you can go your own way” public transport kind of gal, I was also aware that I was attempting to see the whole of Peru (well as much as possible) in just over two weeks – just under half the amount of time that she had spent exploring the diverse country.

Expect to be fully immersed in Peruvian culture

With such little time, but so much we wanted to see and do, we figured that the sensible option was to book with PeruHop – the seemingly smooth sailing company, for ease of travel.

Planning our route

After trawling the PeruHop website for which bus route we wanted to take we decided on the ‘Full South to Cusco’ option. The payment was quick, and when weighing up how much it would have cost us to take separate buses, flights, and taxi’s we were satisfied that the cost justified the journey.

The optional yet included cultural bus options, whereby the PeruHop gang whisk you away on a mini tour or take you for dinner en route, only further affirmed our ‘bang for your buck’ rationale.

Pisco tour sign at the entrance in Peru

One of the excursions included a free tour to learn about the creation of Pisco

The dashboard and PeruHop interface online is basic (in a good way). Your itinerary is laid out really clearly and you can change your pick up locations, dates, and times really easily.

Wanting to have as stress-free of an experience as possible, we organised most of our pick-up locations and hostels before arriving in Peru.

Tip; If you change your mind about where you want to stay, or be picked up from, you can always opt for editing your choices closer to the time which is great for rogue wanderers.

Hostel Pick-Up Points

My partner and I aren’t what you call “party people” so for us we were a little worried about the recommended hostel lists provided as pick up locations by PeruHop as we had heard that many of them were quite rowdy.

Instead of plucking any hostel from their lists uninformed, we did a little research into each hostel settling on some of the quieter and less popular options.Whilst you can book a hostel that’s not available on the pick-up list, we decided that we simply couldn’t be bothered with lugging our backpacks to and from pick up points, hence the choice of PeruHop’s.

Bananas hostel in Huaccachina Peru

Bananas hostel in Huaccachina was B-E-A Beauuutifulll

The Overnight Bus

During the two weeks we spent two nights on the PeruHop bus. We considered this another justification as to why this was worth the money. We would have paid around £20-30 for a private room anyway so this was definitely worth the money -that is, if we had a decent sleep whilst aboard.

Luckily enough the bus ride was smooth and we managed to sleep for a decent enough proportion of the night. The seats were

Arrivals and Departures

Having spent time in various places around the world I am all too aware that not everyone operates with the same efficiency in mind. With this open minded attitude I anticipated long delays, slow drop-offs, and late pick-ups. Yet, to my surprise, the bus was always pretty much on time and always where they said they would be.

Getting that free T-shirt

If You take the route that we took you will end up in Cusco. From the Main Square the office can be found by walking up the narrow alley until you eventually turn left.

Upon arriving at the office you will be welcomed by a friendly PeruHop member of staff. Then you be asked to complete a short survey about your PeruHop experience, (make sure you take note of the hosts names as you will be asked to provide feedback on your favourite guides).

So they complete its time to try on some shirts and select the comfiest size!

Is PeruHop for you?

For us, PeruHop Offered us an incredible service that made it easy to see everything we wanted to see and more in the diverse land of Peru.

Along the way we met many travellers that had used public transport for the bulk of their journey, but had decided to give this service a try to finish up their trip comfortably. The resounding reviews seemed to be very positive.

I’d seen on the website that many people had made lots of friends during their trips. Whilst this wasn’t our main aim when choosing PeruHop, we found ourselves heading to the market with a lovely Canadian couple, adding friends on Instagram, and joking around with people on the bus when they reclined the chairs just a little bit too far. Our Machu Picchu Pals

We loved PeruHop and we think you will too.