Hear about travel to Nicaragua as the Amateur Traveler talks to Michael Cobb who spent 14 years in the country.
Michael says, “Nicaragua is really raw, that’s the word I use for it. It’s modern in the ways that we care about. It’s got great internet. The roads are really good. You can get the kinds of things that you need if you’re living there, or you’re an extended tourist. But you will also see people on a horse-drawn carriage going down the road or an ox cart or real cowboys driving cattle through the fields and across the roads. So you’ve got this real mix of new and old. You don’t see a lot of brand-name businesses. I mean few a McDonald’s is around and things like that, but generally, it’s mom-and-pops. It’s little stores by the side of the road. And it is the kind of place that for me when I’m there. I just feel alive, I feel the energy, I feel the warmth of the people. You can see opportunity growing right before your eyes. It’s exciting. It’s exuberant.”
Michael recommends a 10-day itinerary for us. He would have us fly into Managua which has the only international airport and then after one night in Managua you should head to the colonial city of Grenada. It’s about a 40-45 minute drive from Managua. Grenada is a 500-year-old Spanish colonial city. “It is truly an architectural Marvel”. There are tourist activities like rolling your own cigars, but Michael recommends making chocolate at the ChocoMuseo Granada.
On the way to Grenada stop at Masaya Volcano where you may be able to see a lake of lava. Near Grenada, there is an extinct volcano called Mombacho Volcano where you should hike the crater rim in the cloud forest. There is a zipline there as well. Grenada is also right on Lake Nicaragua.
After Grenada, you can drive to the coffee plantation of Selva Negra Mountain Resort where you can hike in the cloud forest, see the coffee growing process and do a night.
Drive to Leon, the other major colonial city. Make a short stop on the way to the boiling mud pots. Leon has some great art museums. Visit the Art Center Fundación Ortiz Gurdián. North of Leon is the Flor de Caña museum where you can learn more about rum and where you can sample it.
For the more adventurous you can hike up to the top of Cerro Negro and slide down this cinder cone on a sled. Then head to the beach. There are lots of beaches on the Pacific coast with warm water and good surfing. Michael helped build Grand Pacifico which he does recommend. They have a turtle management program there that you can take part in. Backpackers and surfers often head down to San Juan del Sur.
If you have more time, Michael also recommends a visit to the Corn Islands which he describes as what Key West was like 100 years ago. You get there by small boat, a ponga. There are no automobiles. They meet you at the dock with wheelbarrows and they wheel your luggage in a wheelbarrow to wherever hotel you’re staying.
Also if you have more time and are adventurous Somoto Canyon National Monument is a slot canyon on the northern border of Nicaragua where you can innertube down the river. The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO site also in the north that you can tour with a private tour.
Along the way, Michael recommends his favorite restaurants and local dishes.
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La Casa de Los Nogueras
Restaurante El Zaguan, Granada
ChocoMuseo Granada – 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) – Tripadvisor
Mombacho Hike and Zipline tours
Selva Negra Mountain Resort
Art Center Fundación Ortiz Gurdián
San Juan del Sur
Nativist Art | Fine Art America
San Juan de Oriente
Flor de Caña Rum
Somoto Canyon National Monument
Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
William Walker (filibuster)
San Juan de Nicaragua (Greytown)
Cocina de Dona Haydee, Managua
Nicaraguan Nacatamales (Nicaraguan style Tamale)
Sushi Itto Nicaragua
Finally got to listen to this and it brought back fond memories. I visited during the Christmas season, and Bratislava’s Christmas Markets were some of my favorites. There are two items I wanted to share in addition to what was discussed. One is St Martin’s Cathedral, where numerous Hungarian kings were crowned during the time the Hungarian empire used Bratislava as its capital. It is on the edge of Old Town, at the base of the hill leading up to Bratislava Castle, right next to the SNP bridge’s north end. Another recommendation is Konditorei Kormuth, a dessert shop, and bakery with an amazingly ornate and artsy interior. It’s in Old Town, and definitely worth a stop as you explore the area.
Nice episode brought back memories. Yes, too much to see in this state but did want to mention one missed NPS area Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park and besides Appalachian Trail there is also a New England National Scenic Trail.
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