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Introducing San Carlos

The capital of the isolated Río San Juan department is the gateway to some of Nicaragua’s most compelling countryside but is itself a curious place with a bit of an identity crisis. During the day it is a busy international port filled with herds of travelers in transit, which explains the bustling and festive malecón (waterfront) lined with restaurants. But when night falls, and the magnificent views disappear with the setting sun, it reverts to a rather lackluster small town where gossiping is the main form of entertainment.

Most travelers burn their San Carlos hours by exploring the old Spanish fortress, planning river and island adventures, stocking up on córdoba and checking emails one last time before they drop off-grid for a while.