Nicaragua-Why you must visit now!

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Surfing In Leon, Nicaragua

As far as Central American destinations go Costa Rica has  long been  first on travelers  lists for years, But now with American Fast food chains like Applebees everywhere you go there its started to lose its unique flavor and is now being replaced as  a popular destination.  Well  you will find a  very similar landscape to Costa Rica but Nicaragua is still just enough off the beaten path to feel adventurous. In fact, the number of tourists from the U.S. during the first half of 2014 is up nearly 10 percent over the same period in 2013 according to the ministry of tourism. Here’s why you need to check it out now.

10 Reasons to Go to Nicaragua Now

(DaneBrian/Flickr)

 Beautiful Landscapes

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(Photo: George Lezenby/Flickr)

  Nicaragua is Affordable.

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 (Photo: Delirante bestiole/Flickr)

 Accomodations For Every Size Budget

Food and lodging in Nicaragua are from one-third to one-half the price of comparable accommodations in Costa Rica, according to the Nicaraguan Tourism Board. For example, in the colonial city of Leon, one of Nicaragua’s top tourist destinations, you can find reasonably priced ($60 a night and less) lodging in hotels created from beautiful historic haciendas. Vacation real estate properties are also half the price of similar ones in Costa Rica or Belize. Hostels are plentiful with rates going from $6 per person for a dorm or $10-15 dollars for a private room.

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 (Photo: Jicaro Island Ecolodge/Facebook)

Just because you can travel on a budget in Nicaragua doesn’t mean you have to. Two new ultra luxurious must-stays in the country are the Jicaro Island Ecolodge, on a tiny private island in Lake Nicaragua, and Mukul Luxury Resort and Spa on the Pacific coast from San Juan del Sur. Jicaro is a secluded (there’s nothing else on the island), peaceful place to get away from it all with healthy food, yoga, and personalized, authentic service, but still with plenty of activities  Prices range from $390 to $750, double occupancy, per night. Mukul is made up of individual beach villas and bohios, which have amazing ocean views.

 Amazing Backdrops!

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One of the two volcanoes on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua (Nick Leonard/Flickr)

The country is known for its more than 50 volcanoes. One of the most tourist-friendly is Vulcan Mumbacho,  just 6 miles from Granada. For an actively venting volcano where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of red glowing lava, there is  the Volcan Masaya the “gate to hell,”  the Spaniards who discovered it says it holds the entrance to Hell.  For expert climbers you can try Volcan Momotombo, near Leon on Lago de Managua, or Volcans San Cristobal and Maderas on Isla de Ometepe near San Jorge in Lago de Nicaragua. At Cerro Negro,  about 18 miles outside of Leon located in the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range, you can hike up and  volcano surf down the volcano’s gravel-like ash.

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 There are lots of  Different lifestyle activities.

There is a growing Surf culture  on the beaches of Nicaragua, and the center of it all is a former sleepy fishing village turned expat-pat beach town called San Juan del Sur. About 80 miles south of Managua, you’ll find awesome breaks, fellow wave riders, and tons of surf camps.  There are also yoga studios, hostels, trendy restaurants and bars all over the country in the major cities like Managua, Leon Esteli ^ Matagalpa

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It’s a new hot spot for volun-tourism.

Julie Speier,  is an expat who moved to the country in 2008 to start the San Juan del Sur Day School – now a full-service primary school educating Nicaraguan and ex-pat children from the ages of 18 months to 10 years, and employing staff from all over the world. The school partners with Comunidad Connect, where travelers can stay with Nicaraguan host families and volunteer to do everything from cleaning up neighborhoods and beaches to teaching English.  “After vacationing there, I was so drawn to go back to the country and help that nothing could’ve stopped me,” Kemp says. “We volunteered with our kids instead of sending them to summer camp. Many people there live in 10-foot by 10-foot shacks. So there’s lots we can do. And there is also a lot we can learn from them.” Kemp and her family volunteered though La Esperanza Granada, an organization dedicated to helping local children receive an education. Other organizations such as Viviendas Leon are doing amazing things with their volunteer groups to help rural communities.

You can see the amazing beaches where they filmed Survivor.

(Photo: Rancho Chilamate/Facebook)

There is a beach for every kind of taste–  From Playa Poneloya  to Playa Hermosa, to Playa Escamequita.  And  for the Caribbean tastes there are the breathtaking beaches of the Corn Islands.  All waiting to take you on a horseback riding adventure through the countryside.

There are amazing cloud forests and orchids.

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A Nicaraguan orchid (Photo: tshantz/Flickr)

Cloud forests in Nicaragua are as amazing as they  may sound. Two can be found. One on Vulcan Mombacho near Granada and the other on Vulcan Maderas in Ometepe.  There are dozens of species of orchids, some rare, in Nicaragua.

Its Safe to Visit.

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The capital city of Managua (Photo: Thinkstock)

Its hard to believe but many people still  envision guerrillas  of Sandinistas, Contras, and the political unrest that characterized the country back in the 1980s. But these days, Nicaragua is a nation at peace and  relatively stable. According to a recent Gallup poll, Nicaragua is actually now the safest country in Central America. In fact, it’s the second-safest country in Latin America, behind Peru.

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