We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Megan, a member of the Solo Travel Society. Megan is from the United States and submitted the following report about Nicaragua. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Spanish
Reasons to go: I chose to visit Nicaragua because I wanted to escape the United States for a couple of months, but travel on a budget. I purchased the Moon Handbook guide to Nicaragua, read it from cover to cover, then decided to book my flight.
After arriving in Managua and leaving as quickly as possible, my first week was spent at a homestay arranged by a small Nica family-owned language school. I spent 20 hours that week in an intensive one-on-one Spanish language refresher course (I had familiarity with the language, but hadn’t spoken it in a few years). The rest of my time was spent mingling with other travelers and my host family and partaking in activities suggested in my guidebook or organized through my language school.
Following this, I hit the road using “chicken buses” as my transport (and a couple of in-country puddle jumper flights) to explore a great deal of Nicaragua over the next two months. I had originally planned to travel into a few neighboring countries during my time in Central America, but decided it would be more rewarding to get to know Nica culture more deeply. I also wanted to see more of the country than one typically does on the “gringo trail.” I am so glad I did. It truly allowed me to have a relaxing, yet educational and, at times, quite challenging adventure.
During those two months, I visited large cities, small communities on the Pacific Ocean, and surfer camps. I climbed five of the 40+ volcanoes in Nicaragua, went scuba diving off a remote island on the Caribbean coast, visited nature reserves, camped in the northern mountains, took countless boat rides of varying levels of comfort, and found places where I was the only “chela” for hours.
Highlights for me included the areas of Miraflor, Isla de Ometepe, Little Corn Island, the Rio San Juan, Los Guatuzos Nature Preserve and a little hidden gem surfer camp on the west coast that I was told to keep a secret.
My Spanish improved dramatically. I am so glad that I had a background in the language before setting out because it truly allowed me to be independent and to create my own adventure.
Nicaragua is a developing country where things do not go as planned. Ever. Infrastructure is poor with frequent power outages, lack of running water, etc. However, it is a great place to really step outside of the fast-paced US society and experience a different culture. I highly recommend visiting this country to anyone who has an interest in learning and speaking Spanish (you’ll need it) and who has a sense of adventure and is not afraid to get off the beaten path.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety - 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language - 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 3 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)