Just Back From… Nicaragua With Paul Winrow-GiffinPaul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant
Our Real Latin America Expert
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Senior Travel Consultant Paul tells us about his trip to Nicaragua.
Where have you been?
I’ve just returned from a whistle-stop tour of the main sights and highlights of Nicaragua.
Have you been before?
No - I’ve been to Central America several times but this was my first time in Nicaragua!
How did you get there?
I flew from London to Managua with Aeromexico with a connection in Mexico City. The transatlantic journey was comfortable on board one of their new fleet of 787 Dreamliners and while you’ll have a reasonably long layover, you can avoid flying via the USA which is really the only other way to get to Nicaragua from the UK.
How long were you there?
First we headed northeast of the capital Managua to Estelí and Matagalpa, small towns in a part of the country which receives fewer international visitors. This region is well known for its cloud forest as well as growing cigar tobacco and coffee. Then we travelled west to the colonial town of León where you can find many residual scars of the quite recent political unrest, which took place within the last 50 years. We continued south to the beach town of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast, one of the best places to surf, eat great seafood, swim in the ocean and enjoy the nightlife. We then took the ferry across to Ometepe Island – on a clear day you get fantastic views of both volcanoes (Maderas and Concepción). Finally we travelled on to Granada, the restored colonial gem of Nicaragua perched on the edge of Lake Nicaragua from where we visited some of the stunning islets. Then back to Managua for the flight home.
Which was your favourite…
Place: Ometepe Island – Beautifully framed by two volcanoes, this island has a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere and there is plenty to do and see if you want to keep active and explore its natural highlights.
Hotel: Morgan’s Rock – A wonderful, luxurious eco-lodge set into the hillside overlooking the calm bay and sandy beach of Playa Octal. The rooms are well thought out and very comfortable. It’s the perfect place to relax after a day out at the beach or taking advantage of the wide range of activities within the property.
Excursion: Hiking to the top of the Cerro Negro Volcano for some rewarding views, before hopping on a plank of wood and sand-boarding down over the black volcanic sand – a much quicker route to the bottom!
Appeals to which type of traveller?
This is the perfect destination for a traveller looking for something little more off the beaten track. While there are some wonderful hotels and lodges, the general atmosphere in the country and the attitude of the locals gives Nicaragua a real air of authenticity. There’s a great mixture of natural beauty, wildlife, history and culture, all within reasonably close proximity so you can avoid having a heap of internal flights.
Any good food, drinks, restaurants or bars recommendations?
Flor de Cana Rum – A timeless classic.
Morropotente – Nicaraguan craft beer!
Macuá - The Macuá is a cocktail made with white rum and fruit juices, usually lemon and guava juice. It’s the national drink of Nicaragua and was named after a native tropical bird.
Caballo Bayo - Caballo Bayo is a typical food served in clay plates and pots that are offered buffet style. It gives you a taste of varying meals; it usually includes sausage, chopped up chicken, cheese, sour cream, chicharrón, plantains, rice, pico de gallo and guacamole.
Vigorón – Vigorón is a kind of cabbage salad with tomatoes, onions, chilli, boiled yucca and chicharrones all wrapped in a banana leaf.
Room for improvement?
In some areas there is quite limited English spoken, however this is all part of the charm of visiting Central America!
How would you sum up your trip in a sentence?
An exciting trip around a diverse, fun, safe country where tourism is beginning to grow – so now is a great time to visit!
Any top tips?
Here are a few words of Nicaraguan slang which you should try and weave into conversation during your stay:
Tuani – Cool/great
Deacachimba! – Absolutely awesome/amazing!
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