Backpacking Nicaragua

Week 10 – Leon to San Juan del Sur

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Another day another country. This time backpacking Nicaragua. The border crossing was something else. Probably the longest and toughest ones I have encountered to date. That was even with a company doing it for you. This was the only border where our bus was checked over plus we had to take our luggage inside for the scanners.

Border Crossing from Hell

The border crossing started with a dodgy Covid test. I think it was dodgy as we got the results back within 10 minutes. Therefore, this makes me think it’s not all above board. Anyway, we were nearly at the border after traveling 10 hours in a cramped mini-bus. We had set off early from Honduras to be able to make it to Leon, Nicaragua at midnight. It was well over the 12-hour time scale given but we arrived in one piece with negative covid tests. That is the main thing.

The Next Morning

Volcan Negro's Crater with vibrant green forest as the backdrop
Crater at Volcan Nergo

After hanging most of my clothes out to dry due to them getting wet on the roof of the mini-bus. We set off to explore the town of Leon. Then came the pouring rain. Well, due to it being the wet season it was to be expected. Leon was our first experience of the wet season, we knew it would rain for maybe a couple of hours in the afternoon however it rained all day long.

We were here in Leon to do one activity. The only thing I wanted to do was volcano boarding. Yep, sliding down the side of an active volcano on a wooden plank.

Me getting ready to sandboard down the side of a volcano
Volcano Boarding

Volcano Boarding

This activity is why everyone stops off here as well as the cathedral. However, as we set off to Volcan Negro the nerves started to set in. I am someone who gets a little nervous before trying something new. So, with the short hike to the top over with stunning views all around, it was time. Time to suit up and look like we have just escaped from prison and slide on down. It was so much fun and when the speed picked up even more fun. Well worth the experience.

Backpacking Nicaragua Some More

yellow circular sun over the shadow of Volcan Conception whilst backpacking Nicaragua
Sunset over Volcan Conception

Next on the list of places to go was Granada which was a cute town but again the rain was intense. So intense we couldn’t really explore and partake in the activities on offer. One was closed because of the landslide, the party was canceled and the clouds ruined the magma experience.

Therefore, we just went on our way as planned to Ometepe. An island in Lake Nicaragua made up of two volcanos. It was pretty impressive. Again, the hikes were closed and it rained non-stop whilst we were exploring the island by moped. However, there was one night when the sun was out and we watched it set behind Volcan Conception. It was a truly magical sunset.

Our Last Stop San Juan del Sur

The last stop was this unique, charming beach town. I really liked it despite it being the wet season here there were breaks in the rain. It looks a bit rough around the edges but I enjoyed it. Maybe because this is where I caught my first green wave and rode it all the way! What a feeling, these three days here really made me realise that I want to be able to surf. Therefore it has kicked started a new hobby. It was again nice to be somewhere for four days to relax. Finally, I was able to get some dairy-free ice cream again so I made the most of that.

Summary of Nicaragua

Backpacking Nicaragua was charming, you really get to see the day-to-day lives of the locals. I enjoyed this country for this reason despite the onslaught of rain, I was won over. I would definitely like to go back and experience more of this beautiful country.

Next week I move on to Costa Rica, a country that I’ve wanted to visit for a while. So I’m excited.

2-Week Adventure Backpacking in Nicaragua

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links meaning I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no cost to you.

This blog is about my 2-week adventure backpacking in Nicaragua. Again, as always I choose my destinations based on my interests. And so should you. This country was beautiful, eye-opening, and magnificent all rolled into one. This country truly touched me. In my opinion, this blog covers the most beautiful places in Nicaragua.

Magnificent Leon – 2 Nights

So, our first stop in Nicaragua was the city of Leon. We arrived at midnight by shared tourist shuttle from Honduras. It just made the border crossing a little easier by having someone do it for you. This place you can just wander around and take in the culture. The best place to stop by is the Cathedral. Remember to go to the roof for the best view. It was too wet when we were there so we missed it.

Me getting ready to sandboard down the side of a volcano
Volcano Boarding

The main reason backpackers stop by here is for the volcano boarding. Yes, you slide down an active volcano (US$35) on a plank of wood. Yes, it does sound crazy but it sure as hell is fun. Don’t worry you can easily control your speed, not that you will want to!

Rough and Ready Managua – 1 night

This capital city is a little rough around the edges and I wouldn’t really recommend a stop here. Travelling around Nicaragua on the local buses is easy because vendors yell out their destinations. Yet, don’t expect a bus to leave straight away because they only leave when they are as full or near to full. Therefore, you need to allow extra travel time for this.

However, stopping in Managua is convenient if you need to get some shopping done. Also, the capital is the main hub for flights over to the Corn Islands. This is something we missed as the weather wasn’t going to be great. Although, after speaking to other travelers; they didn’t regret visiting these Caribbean Islands on the coast of Nicaragua. They do look pretty untouched and impressive.

Lively Granada – 3 Nights

A old dirty looking church
The Church in Granada

In the bustling, colourful streets of Granada, there were street markets, historic buildings, and Lake Nicaragua. Also, this town is a good hub for day trips. Unfortunately, with it being the green season and raining every day all day whilst I was there most of the activities were called off. Normally, you can go swimming in a crater lake, see magma from an active volcano, and party hard at the famous Treehouse Hostel.

Beautiful Ometepe – 3 Nights

yellow circular sun over the shadow of Volcan Conception during 2-week adventure backpacking Nicaragua
Sunset over Volcan Conception

This beautiful island is made up of two volcanoes; the main one is Volcan Conception. It is possible to hike both volcanoes however in the middle of the green season it is not recommended. We did hire a scooter for a day (US$18). A scooter is definitely needed to visit the key sites as places of interest are all spread out over the island.

There are plenty of places such as having a swim at Ojo de Agua, Hiking to San Ramon waterfall, and exploring nature at Charco Verde. Also, you can relax at El Pital which is known for its chocolate and great views of Volcan Conception. Lastly, you can chill at ‘the beach’ at Punta Jesus and watch the sun go down.


Laid-back San Juan del Sur – 4 Nights

San Juan del Sur is a place to chill out and take it easy for a few days. This is an ideal stop with great surf for you surfers out there. There is plenty of companies to choose from for surf lessons. I had some lessons at Alex’s Surf Shop. These were okay, helpful more for a private one. Also, after lesson they let you enjoy more waves or lounge in the sun for an hour.

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of my 2-week adventure backpacking in Nicaragua. Please click here for more adventures.