Okay, so in an ideal world, I would have at least a month to spend in this country. It’s small, but there’s so much to do! Ultimately, my friend Liz and I spent about 9 days and 8 nights exploring. And, we could have done more.
Although we originally had an itinerary ending in Honduras, we amended that itinerary to spend extra time in Nicaragua. This seemed like a great idea, as we most certainly did not want to deal with the political unrest in Honduras.
Here’s what we ACTUALLY did, and how we spent our time:
Day 1: Caught a bus from Liberia over the border. Went to Ometepe after hearing great reviews at the hostel in Liberia.
When we arrived, we knew we had several goals to accomplish. We immediately found a cheap hostel, some food, and booked a volcano tour. Everything on this island was affordable, and the locals were incredibly accommodating, suffering through my questionable Spanish and helping me improve. Additionally, we booked a tour with a company. Next time, I would just go through the hostel where I stayed.
Day 2: Attempted to tour a volcano. Did not make the tour. Instead, ended up hiking the waterfalls.
This was an interesting time. The waterfalls were located near Madeira Volcano, which was on the other side of the island. We took a chicken bus, and ultimately ended up hitchhiking there, picking up friends, and more Spanish, along the way. Chicken buses can be incredibly crowded and our journey quickly became overly eventful.
Day 3: Hiked the Volcano Concepcion.
Of the two volcanos, Concepcion is bigger, but Madeira has a cloud forest. With more time, we could have hiked both places.
Day 4: Chilled out at the Hostel/ had a beach day.
We were super tired after the volcano and spent the day chilling out and prepping for our voyage the next day.
Day 5: Went from Ometepe to Granada
Ometepe is an island in the middle of a giant lake. So this voyage included a ferry, a bus, a tuck-tuck, and a walk. Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Granada we were exhausted, and hungry!
Day 6: Spent time exploring Granada and went to the Tree top Bar
Another travel adventure. We were invited by a random person from Seattle to attend dinner, and quickly learned about this legendary beverage spot. In order to arrive, we needed to buy tickets to get on a shuttle. This shuttle was actually a pick-up truck in which 17 drunk people was the decided upon limit. Why 17? No one knows. Anyway, so this pick-up truck takes you from the Lost Soul Bar (yes, that really is it’s name) to Tree-Top Bar which a remotely located pub requiring you to suffer through ridiculously bumpy rides and hike up stone steps for ten minutes. Upon arrival, you will not be disappointed- drinks are 1-2 US dollars, and the party is happening! If you are adventurous, even the ride is fun. The shuttles back ran until 3am, and there are even hammocks to crash in after your night of fun.
Day 7: Explored the City of Granada, went shopping and rested.
This may not sound fun, but it is! Everything in Granada is super ridiculously cheap and I found a brand name swimsuit for only $3.00! There’s a chocolate museum to check out, a cool old cemetery, and loads of beautifully colorful streets and restaurants. And, everything is a fraction of the price in Boston.
Day 8: Went to El Transito, a remote beach town in Nicaragua
I could have lived at the hostel we stayed at: Free Spirit Hostel. Offering Yoga and Surfing packages, and a free family dinner and breakfast, this place was truly paradise. I loved it. There were even lagoons to explore close by.
Day 9: Bussed to Leon, arriving around 230pm, and caught a 230 AM shuttle from Leon to Antigua
By this time we were so tired that we tried to relax. Although we attempted to explore, our journey had exhausted us, we had enough energy to book a pedicure. This was great fun. We chose not to book a room, and that was ok. Liz used her noggin and set a hammock up to relax in, while I proceeded to hang out in a pool and create friends from strangers.
If I could go back and do it again I would definitely spend more time in El Transito. Free Spirit Hostel was incredible. I would recommend a week in Ometepe, which would give you time to explore both volcanos and the waterfalls without exhausting you. Additionally, I would want to spend at least a month in Nicaragua to see everything this beautiful country offers.