Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a country of great beauty though still pleasingly undeveloped. Friendly Nicaraguans embrace adventurers to their colourful, vibrant colonial cities, overgrown pre-Columbian ruins, nature-rich jungles and often deserted idyllic beaches where you can surf or snorkel to your heart’s content.

Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America and owing to its lack of mainstream tourism remains the perfect destination for a more off the beaten track experience. Traversing Nicaragua can be a challenging adventure but when you reach one of the many worthwhile destinations the charm of its people and its beautiful scenery will be well worth the effort.

Volcanoes, picturesque lakes and vast expanses of pristine rainforest are all part of this country’s natural beauty. The laid back atmosphere is infectious and this old world charm allows one to wallow in the delights of this mystical nation which has an entire geographical world within its borders.

The highlands shoot up mountain peaks and are the origin of high quality coffee beans and a variety of wildlife. Granada is situated on the vast Lake Nicaragua and is the oldest city in the country dating back to 1524. The town still retains a similar appeal as Antigua in Guatemala and in fact these cities were sister cities under Spanish rule. The streets are laid out in the traditional grid pattern in the foothills of Mombacho volcano and the most noteworthy buildings include the cathedral, the Church of La Merced and the fortress church of San Francisco.

Nicaragua has stunning low key beaches on the Pacific coast including El Coco, Marsella and Ocotal. San Juan del Sur provides a more upbeat beach stay with good surfing opportunities along with marvellous sunsets. Close by is the country’s most important turtle nesting ground at La Flor. In addition to sunbathing, swimming and surfing you can also visit the Juan Venado Island which is located only 100m off shore. This island is flanked by mangrove forest and offers a great habitat for many animals, including thousands of birds and many crocodiles.

Leon has always been one of Nicaragua’s most important cities both from an economic, cultural and historical perspective and its most famous son is the poet and diplomat Ruben Dario, whose former home is now a visitor museum. Twelve colonial churches are dotted throughout the city along with the Cathedral of Leon which is the largest in Central America.

The country has not quite escaped the stigma of the past and become the major tourist destination it deserves to be.

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