Smoking Volcán Concepción and her almost perfect cinder cone rise from silvery, pure Lago de Nicaragua to pierce the cloudy sky. 'Land of Lakes and Volcanoes' indeed, you think, as the rolling waves of Cocibolca (an ancient indigenous name for this 'Sweet Sea') rock your suddenly tiny ferry into unspeakable admiration. For these symbols of the nation - wind over water, fire from the earth - convey the elemental significance of Nicaragua's most powerful passions, poetry (don't get them started, unless you want to) and revolution.
If you climb Concepción you'll look out over gorgeous colonial Granada and her hundreds of tiny tropical isletas (islets), across the slender isthmus pockmarked with crater lakes to where the Pacific breaks hollow on sandy cove beaches. Beyond, red-and-black Volcán Momotombo towers above Lago de Managua - its counterpoint is Sandino's massive iron silhouette, conscience of the nation and solemn defining feature of the Managua skyline. Proud León also beckons with its churches and museums, while the cloud forests, frothing waterfalls and incredible coffee of cool, green Northern Nicaragua may tempt you upwards. Here, in the mountains and lakes, Central America's mightiest rivers begin their journey across the autonomous, indigenous-owned rolling hills of the Caribbean Coast, to the sea.
For visitors of a certain age, just the name Nicaragua - taken from a tribal chief of such wisdom and power that he may never fade from this nation's collective memory - evokes grainy footage of camouflage-clad guerrillas, punctuated by gunfire and a 1980s soundtrack. Despite having ended more than 15 years ago, leaving Nicaragua one of the safest countries in the Americas, the Contra War is too often our collective memory of the land of Nicarao.
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Best places to stay in Nicaragua
Nicaragua travel guide
Traveling in Nicaragua is an authentic, nonstop adventure set among majestic volcanoes, enchanting colonial towns, invigorating cloud forests and glorious beaches.
Where to find secluded surf on Nicaragua’s southern coast
Inhaling the salty air, your body pleasantly fatigued from a morning surf, you gawk at the breathtaking, crescent-shaped cove and slouch deeper into your hammock...for surfers, Nicaragua has it all...
Nicaragua - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Nicaragua starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on the Nicaraguan outdoors.
Island-hopping down Central America’s Caribbean coast
You don't always need suitcases full of cash to enjoy the Caribbean Sea – cradled in its western corner lie a number of idyllic island groups that are surprisingly easy on the pocket. San Blas Islands, Panama San Blas, Kuna Yala, Panama by Ben Kucinski. Creative Commons Attribution Licence...
Central America on a shoestring - Nicaragua (Chapter)
Nicaragua has just about all you could ask for in a tropical paradise. Stroll colonial cities before discovering volcanoes to be climbed, lagoons to be explored, islands to be Robinson Crusoed, and spirited locals to take you there and beyond.
Cerro Negro Volcano Sandboarding Tour from Managua
Enjoy a thrilling sandboard adventure down Cerro Negro Volcano on this day trip from Managua! Hike to the top of Cerro Negro and take in panoramic views of both the Telica and San Cristobal volcanos before surfing down the side of the volcano on a custom sandboard.
Cycle Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama
Central America's narrow isthmus lends itself perfectly to exploration on two wheels. From the colonial hub of Granada to bustling Panama City, discover Costa Rica's steamy rainforests, La Fortuna's Arenal Volcano and the island paradise of Bocas del Toro. Visit the nature lover's paradise along Lake Nicaragua, cruise along the Tenorio River and snorkel over Panama's reefs.
Top 10 best value destinations for 2011
Worried that the economy might put a crimp in your travel plans next year? Never fear: travel doesn't have to break the bank. Your currency may be depressed, but that doesn't mean you have to be; there are still many destinations around the world that can be enjoyed on the cheap...
Nicaragua - Masaya & Los Pueblos Blancos (Chapter)
Nicaragua’s meseta central (central plateau) offers a picturesque patchwork of lagoons, steamy volcanic peaks and sleepy colonial villages. Not many people stay here for more than a short day-trip, leaving plenty of room for exploration and...