After a whirlwind drive though Honduras, we spend about two weeks in Nicaragua. Our first stop is the city of Leon, then Granada. We stay a week on Ometepe Island and then head to the beaches near San Juan del Sur.
Below you will find information on border crossings, wifi availabilty, budgets, ferry information to Ometepec, and details of our visits through Leon and Granada.
This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.
Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.
Another country, another budget recap. Like the last couple, this one's a quickie. We only spent 16 days in Nicaragua, largely because our CA-4 visas were running out of time, and we have family visiting in Costa Rica.
Nicaragua is a very inexpensive country, but I may just be saying that because of the shock of Costa Rican prices the past couple days. Food and lodging, especially camping, were the cheapest we've seen yet. Even in the tourist-laden towns of León and Granada.
This article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.
General availability: Medium-High
Quality of bandwidth: Pretty terrible
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Rare
Frequency of internet in hotels: Surprisingly high. Everywhere we stayed had internet access.
Areas visited: With our CA-4 visas rapidly running out, and family coming to visit in Costa Rica, we didn’t have a lot of time to play in Nicaragua. We spent several days in each of these places: Leon, Granada, Isla de Ometepe and San Juan del Sur.
Same ol’ story here. Free hostel wifi connections are painful at best. Connections die constantly, especially with frequent power outages.
Most hotels have free wifi. In remote areas, like Ometepe, there may be a fee. We are seeing more typical coffee/sandwich cafés offering free wifi. Touristy places like Granada, Leon and San Juan del Sur had plenty of places to connect.
Start: April 13, Isla Ometepe
Finish: April 21, San Juan del Sur
Cheap Bottles of Nicaraguan Hooch Drank: About a dozen
Total Number of Overlanders Camped on the Beach: 9
Total Cost to Camp 8 Nights: $30
This week was all about campin'. And meeting up with fellow overlanders we saw briefly in Guatemala. We didn't really do a whole lot aside from hang out, drink cheep booze and shoot the shit, but that's pretty much the definition of campin'.
We spent five days on Ometepe Island, pictured above, situated in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. And then headed to a small beach near San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Ocean for a few more days of lounging in the heat.
León and Granada have been long-time rivals, fighting to be the political and spiritual center of Nicaragua. Walking through either of these cities it's easy to see why.Rustic colonial charm lines every street and culminates with every church and cathedral. These cathedrals and churches are among the oldest, largest and grandest we have seen on this trip.
The best way to showcase these rival cities is with a series of photos. You could spend weeks here, use up gigs of memory, and still not capture the full color of your surroundings.
Basilica of the Assumption
First up, the Basilica of the Assumption in Leon. This is the largest cathedral in Central America. Construction was started in 1747 and took 100 years to complete.
Start: April 6, San Miguel, El Salvador
Finish: April 13, Leon, Nicaragua
Borders Crossed: 2
Average Temperature: 98F
Pints of Guinness Drank: 1
This week's adventure consisted of a double border crossing day, two beautiful colonial cities and extremely hot temperatures. From El Salvador we drove through Honduras and arrived in the city of León, Nicaragua in time to have a few mojitos, sweat profusely in front of a fan, and pass out.
We saw a bit of the Semana Santa festivities in León, where we stayed for Easter weekend. In Grenada we spent a day working online, and a couple more enjoying the city. Horse-drawn carriages, a dirty lake beach, cigar rolling, the largest hammock in the country and more churches than you could shake a stick at.
This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.
Border name: Guasaule
Closest major cities: Guasaule, Honduras and Somotillo, Nicaragua
Cost for visas: $12 per person
Cost for vehicle: $3 for fumigation. $12 for insurance. Permit is free.
Total time: 1 hour
Update August 2013: The buildings at this border have been rebuilt. I'm sad to say that you may not have the same sketchy, bombed-out building experience as we did. Thanks to Tanja & Armin from www.travelsouthbound.de for the update.
Note: This is part two of the border crossing marathon day. We left from San Miguel, El Salvador in hope of reaching Leon, Nicaragua on the same day. Part 1 of the border crossing is here. To complicate matters, we were attempting this on the Friday of Semana Santa, which turned out to be a blessing. Borders were quiet and touts had better places to be. We were in Leon drinking mojitos before sun down.