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Nicaragua eNewsletter March 2014
 
     
 
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Nicaragua’s Charming Towns and Historic Sites

TownNicaragua, known for its stunning natural landscapes and dramatic coast lines, is also as alluring for its charming towns and historic sites. The country can be divided into three general regions – the North-Central Mountains, the Pacific Coast and the Atlantic Coast – and offers travelers the many cultural attractions, such as the following as mentioned in Frommer’s:

Masaya and the Pueblos Blancos

  • About: Located an hour south of Managua, the “department” of Masaya (akin to a state or region) is home to an active volcano, picturesque villages and a strong indigenous culture known for its artistry. Masaya is an important cultural destination within Nicaragua, as many poets, artists, dancers, theater performers and musicians hail from this region. The region’s surrounding villages, called Los Pueblos Blancos (The White Villages), and the Masaya Market are excellent stops for travelers seeking handcrafted goods and the energy of local crafts markets. Famous Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío dubbed Masaya’s capital (which is also named Masaya) “the city of flowers."
  • MasayaHistoric site: Built in 1893, the Coyotepe Fortress, now a museum, is located on top of a key observatory hill in Masaya. The whitewashed buildings with yellow-domed towers were used as a military outpost until they were donated to the Boy Scouts Association in the 1970s.
  • Surrounding sights: Masaya Volcano – one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes and one of only a few volcanoes on Earth where visitors can drive right up to the crater lip and look inside. Laguna de Apoyo – located between the departments of Masaya and Granada, this blue lagoon has a volcanic origin but is now a scenic spot for eco-tourism and relaxing lakeside.

Lake Nicaragua

  • Lake NicaraguaAbout: Nicaragua’s largest freshwater lake and Latin America’s second-largest lake, Lake Nicaragua is home to a 365-island archipelago formed from Mombacho Volcano’s eruption 20,000 years ago. The lake is only 27 miles from Managua, off the coast of the charming colonial town of Granada.
  • Off-the-radar historic site: Lake Nicaragua is home to Zapatera Island, a dormant volcano and an off-the-grid destination known for its pre-Columbian stone carvings. The island’s half-hidden petroglyphs, statues and ceramic artifacts date as far back as 500 B.C. They reveal the island’s importance as an instrumental ceremonial area. Hot springs, creeks, a lagoon and lush vegetation add to the island’s magical spirit.
  • Surrounding sights: Known as Nicaragua’s crown jewel, Ometepe Island sits in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and was formed by two volcanoes, “Concepción” and “Maderas,” that encompass more than 276 square kilometers. Ometepe is a favorite destination among hikers as there are dry and cloud forests and a lagoon. It was once considered sacred ground by ancient cultures.

Managua

  • ManaguaAbout: The capital city of Nicaragua is home to more than 1.5 million people. After suffering devastating earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the capital has regained balance and has become one of the best places in the country for dining, nightlife and medical care.
  • Off-the-radar historic site: Museum of Acahualinca, located in west Managua, holds the Ancient Footprints of Acahualinca (Huellas de Acahualinca), human footprints left 6,000 years ago, along with mammoth footprints, pre-Colombian tools and a small collection of pottery. It is believed that the footprints, made by men, women and children, were preserved by a layer of volcanic mud and are among of the oldest pieces of evidence of human activity in Central America.
  • Surrounding sights: Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace of Culture), the 162-hectacre private nature reserve of Montibelli, Masaya Volcanic National Park and the craft market in Masaya.

León

  • LeonAbout: Founded by Spanish conquerors in 1524, León is a department that is home to the second largest city in Nicaragua, also called León. A colonial town at the base of the Momotombo Volcano, León features cobblestone streets, more than 18 churches, vibrant murals, and universities. The house of one of Latin America’s leading literary figures, Rubén Darío, is located in León, as is the largest cathedral in Central America, The Cathedral of León.
  • Off-the-radar historic site: León Viejo (Old León) is the original location of León but, after frequent volcanic activity and earthquakes in the late 1500s and early 1600s, its settlers relocated the city to its present location about 20 miles to the west. León Viejo was rediscovered in the 60s and stands as the second oldest city in Nicaragua, with housing foundations from the original city still remaining. The ruins were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
  • Surrounding sights: Cerro Negro Volcano – an all-ash volcano perfect for sandboarding – and Momotombo Volcano, which offers a challenging hike.

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Nicaraguan Cruise Ports & Upcoming Enhancements

Cruise Ports

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Several ports in Nicaragua will receive enhancements that will benefit visitors and commerce. They include:

  • San Jorge Port: Development will increase capacity to accommodate larger ferries and the general environment around the marina. Plans for the port include a new tourist information center, restaurants and retail booths.

    San Jorge, a small fishing village on the western side of Lake Nicaragua, bustles with fishermen and travelers coming and going from Ometepe Island, which San Jorge connects to via ferry. For those who want to explore San Jorge, there are restaurants and historic architecture to enjoy, as well as lovely views of Lake Nicaragua.

    Ports

  • Salvador Allende Port (Managua): This port will receive improvements with plans for a water park, convention center and four-star hotel. As part of the final development, the nearby “Island of Love” on Lake Managua will also see enhancements that will bring eight cabins as well as a floating dock for cruise ships and boats, and a marina for small boats and jet-skis. The island is said to be where couples from rival families in the 19th century would secretly meet. Not just for lovers anymore, “The Island of Love” has become a pleasant spot to spend an afternoon.

    Ports

    Currently at the Salvador Allende Port, visitors can spend the day enjoying a number of activities. There are restaurants, bars and karaoke clubs; tennis, volleyball and basketball courts as well as a soccer field and picnic huts. The most popular attraction is a tour of Lake Managua, also known as Xolotlán Lake. By day or night the tour takes visitors around the lake and to the “Island of Love.”

  • Port at San Juan del Sur (Rivas/Pacific Coast): One of the most popular ports in Nicaragua welcomes international cruise ships. It will receive a $2.5 million renovation in 2014 that will help triple its size. This will enable three tenders at a time to dock passengers from anchored cruise ships in the harbor. In addition to this massive expansion, the renovation will bring improvements including updated customs and immigration offices, duty free shops, a café and parking lots.

    Ports

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Cruises

Cruises

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Cruise line travel continues to be a popular option for travelers interested in exploring Nicaragua. The country hosted 38 cruises in 2013 and is expected to welcome 41 cruises in 2014. In 2013, a total of 44,556 travelers visited Nicaragua via cruise line, with nearly three-quarters of visitors disembarking and half of those booking excursions and tours while on land.

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Travel packages available for visitors:

Travel Packages

Travel Packages

Travel Packages

 

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Capricorn Leisure “Nicaragua Adventure” 8-day package: adventure, nature, beaches

  • Colonial Granada
  • Hotel Dario
  • San Juan del Sur
  • Mango Rosa Resort
  • Surfing, fishing and diving

Journeys International “Nicaragua Volcano Vistas” 9-day package: nature, eco-adventure, culture

  • Montibelli Wildlife Reserve
  • El Jaguar Reserve coffee farm
  • Selva Negra and La Harmonia Coffee Estate
  • Colonial Granada
  • Volcano Mombacho/Lake Nicaragua
  • Masaya Volcano and Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve

Cox & Kings “Undiscovered Nicaragua” 11-day package: culture, beach, leisure, light adventure

  • Managua
  • León
  • Colonial Granada
  • Masaya Volcano National Park and Lake Nicaragua
  • Guacalito de la Isla, Mukul Beach Golf & Spa

Tara Tours “The Best of Nicaragua” 8-day package: culture, volcanoes, leisure

  • Managua
  • Colonial Granada
  • Masaya Volcano National Park
  • Mombacho Volcano
  • San Juan del Sur

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Nicaraguan Tourism Board
Hotel Crowne Plaza, 1c Sur, 1c. Oeste. Managua, Nicaragua. Aptdo. Postal No. 5088
Pbx: (505) 2254-5191 / Fax: (505) 2222-6610
www.visitnicaragua.us