Private Journeys

Undiscovered Nicaragua and El Salvador

19 days from £4,072pp

Nicaragua / El Salvador

Granada Nicaragua

Essentials

Transport

1 domestic flight; 7 road journeys; 5 river and lake boat journeys

Accommodation

In general you will be staying in small, mid-range hotels with reasonable facilities. Some are family run and offer a friendly and homely welcome.  The range of properties is such however that you stay in all of a restored convent, colonial house, a coffee estate and beachside cabins.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch days 2, 15; full board days  3,4.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary Of Nights

19 days, 18 nights: Granada 2; El Castillo 2; Ometepe 3; León 2; Perquín 2;  Suchitoto 2; Ataco 2; Costa del Sol 3.

Currency

The unit of currency in Nicaragua is the córdoba, in El Salvador the US dollar.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in Managua airport, and in Granada and León: taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip and in the more upmarket shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, or the phone line to the bank may be down, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.   You should authorise your bank first, and withdrawals may be limited.

In el Salvador you can obtain US dollar cash with a card in banks and may be able to obtain cash advances via the few ATMs in larger towns. Tourist-focused services in Nicaragua also accept US dollars cash while small outlets will charge in córdobas. 

We recommend that you take a reasonable quantity of dollar notes (no more than is covered by your insurance). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. 

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$35 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday price, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Journey Grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit travellers who accept the sometimes uncertain and rudimentary nature of travel to remote places. There are a few days where you spend most of the time travelling.  

If you have a disability which we should be aware of, please contact us. 

Climate

This itinerary takes you to tropical climes where the sun is strong and temperatures high – often over 30°C. Those travelling between May and October should encounter higher temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity. The ‘official’ rainy season is May to October. 

Clothing And Special Equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes.  A waterproof jacket is also necessary. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos may be lurking. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Country info

When is the best time to visit Nicaragua?

Situated well within the tropics, Nicaragua has a typical tropical climate with high temperatures all year round at low altitudes. Temperatures are significantly modified by altitude – higher up it can be very cool at night. May-Nov is rainy season, but places on the eastern coast, the Caribbean side, tend to be rather wetter, and to have a longer rainy season, than those on the Pacific coast to the west. There’s a risk of tropical storms or hurricanes Jun-Nov.

What's the official language of Nicaragua?

Spanish.

What's the official currency of Nicaragua?

Córdoba. Notes can be obtained from exchange houses and also from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card. There are ATMs in large towns where you can use a UK credit or debit card. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave UK, and amounts may be limited. ATMs allow you to choose between dollar or córdoba notes but the latter come in large denominations – try to break them down when you can. There are no ATMs (as of 2016) in El Castillo or the Solentiname islands and only one on Ometepe – bring cash with you to these places.

What's the time difference between the UK and Nicaragua?

GMT -6 hours.

What countries does Nicaragua combine well with?

A visit to neighbouring Central America countries, such as tiny, friendly El Salvador and wildlife-rich, slickly organised Costa Rica.

What are the festivals, cultural and sporting events in Nicaragua?

Semana Santa, (Easter, throughout Nicaragua). Processions inspired by biblical stories. Popular traditions include “the donkey procession,” on Palm Sunday; a procession of pilgrim carts that come from all parts of Nicaragua and gather in Granada; San Lázaro’s pet dog blessing in Masaya; and San Juan del Sur’s beach party celebration.

Fiestas de Masaya, Masaya, end of Sep for 3 months. A celebration on Sundays of parades and tamarindo music. It includes the Fiesta del Toro and Fiesta de los Aguisotes in late Oct and ends with the Procesión de San Jerónimo on the first Sunday of Dec.

International Poetry Festival, Granada, second week of Feb annually. Over 150 poets from all parts of the world congregate at this week-long event to recite their best poetry. 

Warning

On 22 April 2018 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but essential travel to Nicaragua.

The advice follows a series of protests in a number of cities. Further information can be found on the FCO’s website.

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Granada: Guided city tour and Masaya volcano
  • El Castillo: Caiman-spotting by night
  • El Castillo: Hike in Indo Maíz Biosphere Reserve
  • El Castillo: Kayaking on Rio San Juan
  • El Castillo: Guided tour of the fortress
  • Perquín: El Mazote and Museo de la Revolución
  • Suchitito: Walking tour
  • EL Imposible National park: hiking

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Granada: Guided city tour and Masaya volcano
  • El Castillo: Caiman-spotting by night
  • El Castillo: Hike in Indo Maíz Biosphere Reserve
  • El Castillo: Kayaking on Rio San Juan
  • El Castillo: Guided tour of the fortress
  • Perquín: El Mazote and Museo de la Revolución
  • Suchitito: Walking tour
  • EL Imposible National park: hiking

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Expert

    It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team