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Ometepe Island

Chris Moss, Travel Journalist highlights emerging Nicaragua, a land of volcanoes, lakes and a blissful Caribbean coast, where the descendants of British pirates inhabit white-sand islands.

Sandinista guerrillas kept the fight for freedom alive in the 70s, seizing power in 1979 and ruling until 1990 (despite the best efforts of Ronald Reagan to have them overthrown). Puppet dictators aside, Nicaragua became an independent republic in1838, though the British claimed the Mosquito Coast until 1850.

Top five attractions

  • Colonial Granada, on Lake Nicaragua, built as a showpiece city in 1524 and lovely to explore by horse and carriage.
  • Erupting out of the lake are the twin volcanic peaks of the Isla de Ometepe, which create an hourglass shape in the lake with beaches on the isthmus.
  • San Juan del Sur, hemmed in by cliffs, has undeveloped beaches and great surfing breaks.
  • The Mombacho cloud forest reserve, at the top of a volcano, where orchids, bromeliads and the rare quetzal bird hide in the canopy.
  • The two tiny Corn Islands, great for snorkelling coral reefs, eating lobster and shooting the breeze with the largely black population, which is of Jamaican descent.

Best city
Colonial León has volcano views, a huge cathedral, thick-walled buildings and many churches and museums, including the Museum of Legends and Traditions, and a grieving lion guarding the tomb of the poet-philosopher Rubén Darío.

Souvenir to buy
Sandinista T-shirt.

Quirky Nicaragua
Lake Nicaragua has the world's only freshwater sharks.

Read
‘The Jaguar Smile’ by Salman Rushdie, who was invited to Nicaragua by the Sandinistas. Even those who don't like Rushdie's fiction should enjoy this lively volume of reportage.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Millie Davies
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

  • 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.

  • Charlotte in Bolivia
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

Meet the team