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Travel Logs March 2016

Compulsive Traveler

Visit Nicaragua: The New Must-do Destination in Central America

By Sandra Scott

Matagalpa: The mountainous area is good for hiking through the primary forest and visiting coffee plantations. Selva Negra, has it all: cloud forest, wildlife, accommodations, coffee tours and visitors can even participate in coffee picking.

Nicaragua is the new Central American hot spot. Costa Rica has been done, so now people are looking for a new tropical adventure that is unspoiled. Nicaragua has a coast on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans offering visitors beaches, rainforest, history, colorful culture, and adventure. There are a variety of places to stay from home stays to luxurious resorts and everything in between.

  1. Managua: The capital of Nicaragua suffered a devastating earthquake in 1972 and it took decades for the city to revitalize the center. The old cathedral still stands in ruins. Towering over the city is a large cutout of Sandino, the leader of the rebellion to oust American military in the 1920s and 1930s. The Ancient Footprints of Acahualinca Museum shows 2,100-year-old fossil footprints of people and animals trying to escape from the volcano.

  2. Leon: Leon is in the land of volcanoes. For an overview of the city, walk on the roof of the Leon Cathedral, one of the largest in Central America. The Museo de Arte is worth a visit – the guides are very informative. Not far from Leon is the Leon Viejo, a World Heritage Site that was destroyed by a volcano and is the only 16th-century colonial city in its original format.

  3. Granada: Located on the shore of Lake Nicaragua, the city is the quintessential Central American colonial-style city. The colorful main square is dominated by the neoclassic cathedral. The original part dates back to 1583. Another do-not-miss is the Convento San Francisco. Nearby is Masaya National Park, the largest national park in Nicaragua.

  4. San Juan del Sur: The sweeping crescent-shaped beach of San Juan has become the place for sun worshippers, party animals, and adventurers. Some of the best high-end accommodations are located in the area. From surfing to catamaran tours to horseback riding through the hills, San Juan is the new hotspot for tourists.

  5. Ometepe: The twin-peaked island, one of the largest fresh water islands, is located in Lake Nicaragua. The two peaks are volcanoes, only one is active. The area is popular with hikers and people seeking a place that hasn’t been commercialized.

  6. Solentiname Islands: The archipelago is located in Lake Nicaragua, the 19th largest lake in the world. It has been a sanctuary for artists who use the lush flora, colorful birds, and serene lifestyle for their subjects. In the mid-1960s a priest came to the island and began what has become a thriving artist colony.

  7. Rio San Juan: Nature lovers and adventurers will want to explore the river and follow the path of Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the ‘49ers. The river forms part of the border between Nicaragua and Costa River. Not to miss is the Indio-Maiz Biological Reserves which is teaming with wildlife.

  8. Beaches: Nicaragua has a Pacific coast 190 miles long and a Caribbean coast 280 miles long; both lined with sandy beaches. Visitors can be a beach bum or wallow in the lap of luxury. There are beaches for surfers and others looking for a more laid-back stay.

  9. Corn Islands: Located on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands were settled by the English and English is the first language of many of the islanders. Tourism is still in its infancy so don’t expect fancy hotels and shops. The beaches are a draw but it is also becoming a favorite destination for scuba divers.

  10. Matagalpa: The mountainous area is good for hiking through the primary forest and visiting coffee plantations. Selva Negra, has it all: cloud forest, wildlife, accommodations, coffee tours and visitors can even participate in coffee picking.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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