Cycling Nicaragua, a quiet paradise

First we learnt how to say ‘Nicaragua’ properly, ie ‘Nikarawa’, and then we rode through some of this beautiful country meeting friendly people, eating great food and not having any problems at all. You can probably imagine what our thoughts therefore are on cycle touring in a country we’ve been warned against from many directions, including the US and UK governments, who’s advice is ‘avoid all but essential travel’ here. I do wish I could find the person who authorises this type of advice and get them to actually go to these places, to see the impact of that decision.

Anyway instead of going down that road, I’ll get off my metaphorical horse (gosh that ground is far away) and here’s a few words, and some more pictures, to help describe our brief but excellent experience of Nikarawa…

Cycling:  generally really good roads. Some long sections of a sort of cobble/tarmac cross which is bumpy, and dirt roads near the coasts, but otherwise really good riding. A few ups and downs though nothing steep, and generally flat. Good shoulders, low traffic and mostly patient, often friendly drivers.

Food: not masses of variety, but good quality and cheap for us. Fried platanos, coffee, eggs and gallo pinto (rice and beans) everyday. Never tire of it. Some incredible supermarkets in Leon, with EVERYTHING (including Nutella).

People: universally friendly, apologetic and sad about what happened here back in April. Different views on the legitimacy of the protest movement, and certainly some weariness about the impact on tourism. No anger that we could pick up.

Places to stay: mostly cheap for us, hostels and hotels are either empty or nearly empty. It’s low season anyway but it’s still a little eerie to have places to ourselves. Camping still not quite an option because of the heat at night, which is a shame as there are some great wild camping spots.

Overall: very glad we came here and didn’t try to go around or over Nicaragua. For a couple of months before we were wavering and looked at flying or finding a boat.  In the end we were fortunate that we met a couple of cyclists who had been to Nicaragua recently with no problems, and two of our friends rode ahead of us by a week or so, and we could get reliable first hand information.  It was a fantastic experience for us, and also a strange one, to be merrily pedalling about in a country reeling from many deaths earlier in the year. So, it didn’t feel entirely comfortable for that reason, but perhaps that is just brain fart – there is nothing we could do, or not do, to affect what has happened or what will happen here.  Perhaps just spending a few dollars, and maybe describing what it’s like, might help a couple of businesses here and there.  We wish you well, Nicaragua, and thank you 🙂

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Paved, un-paved, who cares
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Some kind of bee-eater, I think.  Oh and a big massive volcano
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Heading from the border towards Leon, virtually no traffic and plenty to look at
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Yes I am active, thank you
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Serendipity hostel, Leon.  Room for 20, had the place to ourselves
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Illegal for foreigners to attend protests, but if you’re in the town square and one comes past… all demographics except for men between the ages of about 20 and 60.  Loud, home-made firecrackers, masks take a bit of getting used but it seemed good-natured. No police presence. Back in April, in larger cities, there were snipers killing these people with deliberation. 
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Heading towards Masachapa on the coast
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Standard breakfast, really excellent food
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A few days on Ometepe island (two volcanoes, one active one not, in Lake Nicaragua). Crisps, kitten, beer in that order of preference. 
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A tiny airfield on Ometepe
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Other worldly, sunset over the volcano
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The team at Hostel El Pital. Organic chocolate fiends!
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Looking back towards San Jorge from Ometepe
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NEARLY lost our down duvet to a dog or a chicken, we’re not sure which…
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After Ometepe, down to the pacific coast at San Juan Del Sur. Great to be out of season in tourist towns. 
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I see Big Bird
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Could definitely have happily spent more time in Nicaragua. So pleased we came here and looked around at least a bit.  Onto Costa Rica!

 

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