Nicaragua: the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
The Nicaragua of 30 years ago is long gone. Today it’s one of the safest and most striking countries in the Americas for tourism—definitely worth the flight. Lakes, volcanoes and poetry define the Nicas’ passions, as visitors quickly discover upon landing at the airport.
Volcanoes and other outings
Nicaragua’s 19 volcanoes make for a fascinating tour. Towering above Managua, symmetrical Momotombo is the “prettiest.” Visitors can drive right up to Masaya’s rim and peer into the Santiago Crater, called “the mouth of hell” by the conquistadors. Cerro Negro last erupted in 1999, creating a bleak, black post-apocalyptic surface that thrill-seekers can whiz down on boards or sleds.
Between July and December, the Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor becomes a nesting sanctuary for 30,000 female Olive Ridley and highly endangered leatherback turtles. Visitors can watch tiny baby turtles make a run for the water.
The sapphire-blue crater lake at Reserve Natural Laguna de Apoyo is 200 metres deep and 200 centuries old. Visitors can take in the view from the edge, or climb down for a dip while Howler and White-Faced Capucin monkeys weigh in overhead.
Built in 1888, the Mercado de Artesanías in Masaya is an odd fortress-like Gothic structure complete with turrets and towers. The market it houses is a wonderful place to pick up the highest-quality crafts in the country.
Food and restaurants
The chef at Restaurante Don Candido studied butchery in Madrid and the US, so any meat dish here is exceptional. Locals love the carpaccio, as well as the rib-eye steak.
Cocina de Doña Haydee is a charmingly rustic restaurant in Managua run by the Espinosa sisters. The classic eatery is named after their mother, who was still serving up her famous pork and chicken nacatamales well into her nineties.
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