Nicaragua - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Nicaragua


In the past Nicaragua has swayed violently from right to left, but the momentum has long settled and left the country clear to be seen for its dramatic scenery. And yet, although the violence ended two decades ago, the country has yet to re-brand itself from the stigma of the past into the major tourist destination it might be in the future. It is only a matter of time before more tourists catch wind of what the lucky few visitors already have found; Nicaragua has an entire geographical world within its borders. The country is positioned between Costa Rica, to the south, and Honduras to the north. It is flanked by oceans on two sides; the Atlantic Caribbean stretches along its eastern shores and the Pacific to the west. Lago de Nicaragua, a 92-mile (148km) long freshwater and shark inhabited lake, dominates the terrain of the southwest. Networks of interlacing rivers connect it all. As though the land felt threatened by so much water, active volcanoes smoulder and ooze lava fields. Rainforest blankets much of the lowlands. The highlands shoot up mountain peaks and are the origin of high-quality coffee beans. Incredible animals make their home in these environments. Millions of sea turtles are born in the sandy western beaches. Jaguars and three-toed sloths roam jungle canopies. People of widely different languages and cultures inhabit the less populated Caribbean coast. These reggae cultures, more in tune with Caribbean lifestyle, are an ideal place to relax. The less placid Pacific coastline produces great waves for surfing vacations. The capital city, Managua, isn't a picturesque city but is used by travellers for its modern facilities like airport and hospitals. Other cities and towns are adorned with colonial style architecture. These make romantic destinations more akin to their days of Spanish colonisation than to the modern world. However tourist infrastructure is not yet well developed. For some this can mean unwanted difficulties, for others, a boon to the traveller who enjoys unique experiences and undigested attractions.

Information & Facts


Nicaragua has a tropical climate with two seasons. The wet season from June to January is defined by short heavy rainfalls that can occur daily. On the east coast rains can last longer into the year. The dry season from December to May has almost no rain although temperature differences between the two seasons are slight. Temperature fluctuations result from elevation. These range from sea level and lowlands to highlands and highland peaks. Lowland daytime temperatures average above 86 °F (30 °C) with sometimes 84 percent humidity and highlands above 75F °(24 °C) .


The international access code for Nicaragua is +505. The outgoing code is 00 (00 44 for the United Kingdom) followed by the relevant country code. The city area code for Managua is 2. Mobile phones operate on GSM and 3G networks. Local mobile phone calls are cheapest with locally bought SIM cards. Internet is widely available in all cities although the connection speed is mostly limited to 56k.


It is usual for adults in Nicaragua to live with their parents and visitors should greet the oldest or most important person in a group first. When shopping, it is customary to bargain for goods. Homosexuality was just made legal in March 2008.

Duty Free

Visitors to Nicaragua may import up to 200 cigarettes/500g of tobacco, three litres liquor, and one large or three small bottles of perfume. Meat, dairy and leather products as well as matches are restricted. Firearms require an import license.

Electrical current in Nicaragua is 120 Volts, 60Hz. Flat blade plugs are used.

Medical facilities in Nicaragua are only found in major towns, the best of which are in Managua. Rural communities lack modern hospitals and equipment. If a hospital is needed, travellers should indicate they desire a private hospital. Insect repellent should be used to avoid malaria and dengue fever, both of which are carried by mosquitoes. They should take choloroquine, for two weeks before travel through four weeks after, to prevent malaria. Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid vaccines are recommended for travellers and rabies vaccinations for travellers in contact with animals. The most common affliction is traveller's diarrhoea which is preventable by safe water and food consumption. Travellers should not drink tap water and use common sense when addressing uncooked foods. Visitors from a yellow fever infected area in the Americas or Africa are required to prove they have had vaccination before entry.

The official language in Nicaragua is Spanish. Some communities on the Caribbean coast speak indigenous languages. English is understood at some tourist destinations.

The currency is named the Córdoba but commonly referred to as the peso. American dollars can also be used for common transactions. Bills must be in good shape to be accepted and damaged bills can be exchanged at banks. Only some banks will exchange travellers cheques. All major cities have ATMs and most hotels and restaurants accept credit card payments.

Passport Visa

Travellers entering Nicaragua must have at least six months' validity remaining on their passport. Travellers from most western countries do not need to arrange a visa prior to entry. Tourist cards are granted on arrival for USD 10 and are good for stays up to 90 days for travel among any of the C-4 countries (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala). Extensions are possible for a fee of USD 2 per day. All visitors must be in possession of onward or return tickets, documents for their destination outside of Nicaragua and at least USD 200.


Although rural areas in Nicaragua are particularly void of police, there has been a recent increase in crime in these areas. Theft and violent crime are becoming more common in the usually safe country. Travellers should be careful of muggings in taxis and only use official taxis with a red license plate. Buses should not be used after dark. Resulting from poor road conditions, highway driving is especially dangerous during night and should be avoided. Despite these risks, Nicaragua is still one of the safest countries to travel in the region.

Local time is GMT/UCT -6.

Tips of 10 to 15 percent are expected at restaurants in Nicaragua. Standard tipping is usual at hotels. Taxi drivers do not usually expect to be tipped.

A good starting point for travellers exploring Nicaragua's mountainous regions, Matagalpa (sometimes called the Pearl of the North) is surrounded by beautiful valleys and steep hills that contain coffee and cattle farms, Indian villages, volcanoes, and other interesting places to visit. The city has a uniquely German culture due to settlers in the region, and most of the residents speak English. Matagalpa is also a paradise for outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching and horseback riding.

Once a tiny seaside village, San Juan del Sur has been discovered by surfers and backpackers and is now a top tourist destination on the coast of Nicaragua. Luckily the town hasn't been destroyed by high-rise hotels or condos yet, and is still a wonderfully relaxing destination with opportunities for sailing, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. The best time to visit San Juan del Sur is between April and September when the sea turtles hatch from their eggs on the beaches south of town.

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