Our port of entrance into Nicaragua was Potosi, a small coastal town with limited accommodation and food options. We were very fortunate that our boat captain’s mother had a “Finca” 17km away and offered us free accommodation. As it was getting late in the day, we graciously accepted the offer
and began cycling along the dirt road. It was a pretty smooth dirt/sand road with little traffic, and a few quaint homes. People looked at us skeptically as if we might be towing trouble behind us, and smiles weren’t handed out in mass quantity as we had grown accustomed. By the time we reached the Finca, the road had turned to asphalt, but remained quiet.
The next morning, we set off for Chinendega. Desperately needing to update our maps, we found the cheapest accomodation with wifi and discovered a dirt road that would take us through Leon and all the way to La Paz Centro. The road was pretty rough with a few small rivers to cross, but the slight increase in difficulty was more than made up for by the views and tranquility.
Sometimes I felt like I was in Australia again (minus the volcanos)
Nice quiet scenic roads, but there is always garbage no matter how quiet it may be
A few of these small river crossings helped clean the bikes
The trail was pretty undermined, but luckily seemed more functional than it looked
This was an interesting trail down to another river crossing
In La Paz, we decided to carry on to Nagarote for the night after being told it had more options for accommodation. Unfortunately this was an outright lie and we found ourselves at the mercy of one hotel that wanted to charge us $20 for the night. We opted to ask at a local church and enjoyed a free night in a Sunday School classroom with our inflatable mattresses. In the morning we decided to carry on to Granada. Usually we try and avoid touristy places but we had heard good things. It was approximately 80km, and all but the last 10km was asphalt (a nightmare!). Graced with diesel fumes and absolutely no views, we vowed once again to stay off the panamerican highway and all other highways whenever possible. The wind had picked up overnight and we were fighting a mean headwind for a good part of the day. It reminded me of cycling across the Nullabor a few years ago where the winds were relentless. Finally we reached our dirt road junction where we could breath fresh air and enjoy the sights once more. As a side note, on windy days the smaller roads provide much more shelter as the big highways are basically wind tunnels.
Personally, I wasn’t crazy about Granada, it was crowded and expensive and if I wanted European architecture, I’d sooner go to Europe. We tried to catch a boat to Omotepe Island, but found out the ferry ran daily only from San Jorge. The next day we cycled down to Rivas and bought a good supply of food (food is expensive on the island but good fruit is available and affordable). It is possible to take a lancha or a ferry to the island. The ferry is more expensive, so if you have time it’s definitely worth waiting for a lancha and saving some coin. Also, there is a tourist tax which you are required to pay upon departure to the island. Oddly enough, you are taxed less if you travel with a bike than if you go by yourself. All in all, the boat and taxes cost the two of us approximately $5 each way.
Ometepe itself is a beautiful island, comprised of two volcanoes, one on the northern and one on the southern side of the island. As our port of entry was in Moyogalpa, we decided to cycle around Volcan Concepcion and end up in Balgue on the eastern side of the island. At Finca Magdalena (really nice coffee) it’s possible to camp for $2 a person, and take a stroll to see wild howler monkeys. There is no shortage of accommodation, and the second night we camped on the beach for the same price. The locals are really friendly and helpful and for a small donation you could pretty much camp on any piece of land that you’d like. Many locals practice organic farming, and there’s lots of great coffee/food to try. I made the circuit around the whole island, and most of the roads are extremely rough. On the pugsley I was able to outpace most of the trucks, but I would recommend anyone doing this route remove any panniers or extra baggage as the road is a regular bike breaker.
Cycling on Playa Santo Domingo was great because the freshwater caused no worries for the bikes
Making guacamole for lunch