We entered the largest country in Central America and found ourselves back on the Gringo trail after a long and stressful day in the saddle across Honduras. (More to follow on our border crossing experience!) Nicaragua may be the largest country in the region but it is mainly populated to the West of Lake Nicaragua, along a narrow stretch of land. After many years of civil war this country is slowly repairing itself and we found it to be a friendly, very affordable and a beautiful, safe destination to travel through.
Our first stop was the town of Leon, here we decided to park up Terry, in search of a volcano to hike. Both of us were feeling the need to stretch our legs and the fact that Nicaragua isn’t short of volcanoes it wasn’t long before we found our favourite. The most active Volcano in Nicaragua was our choice, named Cerro Negro. Tom led the way enjoying navigating the steep slopes and the rocks and ash discarded from the volcano on its last eruption. Lorna who has been known to stumble over her own feet on flat ground dug deep and also managed the climb the black mountain close behind! From the top we were treated to panoramic views of scattered volcanoes and lush green forest contrasting against the black lava fields. Sulphur smoke rose from the volcanoes crater and the ground was hot to the touch, acting as a stark reminder this volcano was only sleeping.
Now we were at the top and it was time to head down in style. The descent was what really clinched this volcano as our must hike, the chance to try a new sport, Volcano boarding. Tom was up first, he grabbed his board, sat down, leaned back and he was off disappearing over the edge. Lorna was up next, after a more cautious start she too quickly began to gather up speed, so much so that it wasn’t long before both feet were waving in the air and it was apparent all control was lost. The board began to slide in various directions and her body resembled a rag doll swaying from side to side in the wind. Suddenly, the board came to an abrupt halt as Lorna regained control by firmly planting both feet in the ground. The only snag being from this moment on, Lorna was unable to gather up any real speed again making the rest of the slide a bit tame in comparison.
We both safely arrived at the bottom, covered from head to toe in ash, dust and grit.
After our adrenaline fix we headed onto a relaxing spot for a couple of nights. Laguna de Apoyo, a thermal crater lake that is simply irresistible. The water is deep blue, calm and inviting. The temperature was like stepping into a warm Sunday evening bath. Two days was not long enough, but we now had a deadline in our diary to reach Panama in time for our sailboat to Columbia.
The following day we rode to Granada as our final stop in Nicaragua. Granada is the main colonial town, but for us Guatemala’s Antigua by far outshone this town in terms of beauty and vibe. We hung out with some new friends and soaked up the atmosphere before having to head due South.
Next up would be a race through Costa Rica and Panama, countries that fellow travellers had warned us about in terms of the increased cost of living. Therefore, we decided to have limited time in both of these countries and maybe return one day with more cash to spare!