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Nicaragua is a fascinating country, and a firm favourite on the backpacker circuit through Central America. Here are 10 things you should know before you go.
As with other Central American nations, the Ring of Fire runs through Nicaragua. Down the Pacific side of the country, you can see volcanoes everywhere you go. From the active volcano at Masaya to the crater lake at Apoyo, there are lots of opportunities for visitors to appreciate these natural wonders.
If you’re planning on visiting the Corn Islands or other parts of the Caribbean coast, be aware that the area is only really accessible by plane. While it’s not too expensive to get there, the extra cost can be too much for many budget travelers.
Central America is known as a generally affordable place to spend time, and Nicaragua is the cheapest country in the region. The cost of living is very low, and if you eat street food you can get by on $20 per day.
If you manage to get over to Bluefields and the Corn Islands, you’ll find an unspoilt paradise waiting to be discovered. With interesting history and amazing nature, it’s worth the flight from Managua.
While neighbouring countries have a big problem with crime and there are frequent travel warnings, Nicaragua is relatively safe. Crime rates are lower, and if you take normal precautions, you should be fine.
Main meals in Nicaragua can get a bit monotonous, with black beans, rice, and fried plantains an almost constant feature, so you should make sure to try as much street food as possible. There are loads of different snacks at bargain prices, and you’ll get to spend time with the locals, too.
No one is expecting visitors to complete a degree in Nicaraguan studies before they arrive, but having a basic grasp of the history of the country will make your trip much more enjoyable. If you understand why there is revolutionary street art everywhere, or constant references to Sandino, you’ll get more out of your time here.
Stick to the Pacific coast and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to surfing beaches. There are top spots all down the coast, and several great ones near the party town of San Juan del Sur.
Those on longer trips through Latin America would do well to learn some basic Spanish, and Nicaragua is a great place to do so. The city of Granada, in particular, offers a good selection of schools and cheap accommodation, which means you can learn without breaking the bank. Take a look at our rundown of some common Nicaraguan words and phrases, too.
There is no need to get shuttles or taxis around Nicaragua. Public transport is safe and affordable, and you’ll learn more about the local culture when you’re sharing a seat with two locals and all the produce they’ve bought at the market that day.