THE LAND OF LAKES AND VOLCANOES
Nicaragua takes its name from Nicarao, chief of the indigenous tribe then living around present-day Lake Nicaragua. A friendly and peaceful country that at times, received an undue share of negative press, Nicaragua is really one of the safest places to visit in Central America. With more than 2 decades of political stability, this democracy has moved steadily forward, leaving behind the war-torn ’80’s, remembered as one more chapter in its turbulent past.
The nickname “land of lakes and volcanoes” describes this beautiful and fascinating country well. Two great lakes, Xolotlán (Lake Managua) and Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) occupy roughly 10 percent of the country’s surface area, and are the largest in Central America. Running nearly parallel to the pacific coast is a chain of 58 volcanoes, six of which are active. The country also boasts the longest rivers in Central America, vast coastal lagoons, and hundreds of miles of sea coast. As the largest and lowest Central American country, Nicaragua is essentially an emerging “land bridge” between Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Centrally located between North and South America, Nicaragua has benefited from the astonishing blend of flora and fauna from the two continents.
Nicaragua is primarily an agricultural country, but construction, mining, and general commerce also have been expanding strongly during the last few years. Rapid expansion of the tourist industry has made it the nation’s third largest source of foreign exchange. Central and Northern Nicaragua are currently prime for real estate investment.
Nicaragua’s cultural wealth is without a doubt one of its major attributes. During your stay with Surf Tours Nicaragua we will take some time to explore the richness of its culture, filled with beauty and tradition. Its beautiful colonial cities will transport you to a bygone era. Besides friendly smiles and Nicaraguan hospitality, another “Nica” feature is the festive spirit. Myths, dances, music, and ritual make up Nicaraguan folklore. People often say having visited Nicaragua that the people are the reason that they would consider returning, and we couldn’t agree more.
The rich biodiversity of the country and its 76 protected areas make Nicaragua a great destination for eco-tourism. Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, covering 700,000 hectares, is the largest nature reserve. Nicaragua is home to numerous species including 6,500 vascular plants, 43 fish, 3,716 mollusk, 50 coral, 62 amphibians, 172 reptile, 676 bird, 251 mammal and 10 to 15 thousand insect. In all there are 1804 vertebrate species. If you so choose, your tour with Surf Tours Nicaragua may include a visit to Padre Ramos Marine and Nature Reserve, where you will discover many of the various species of Nicaraguan biodiversity.
Nicaragua’s currency is the Cordoba, named after Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the Spanish founder of the colony of Nicaragua. The U.S. dollar is also an official currency in Nicaragua, and it is advisable that travelers from other nations bring currency in U.S. dollars. Major credit cards are increasingly accepted throughout the entire country. As of 2017, the exchange rate of Cordobas to U.S. Dollars was roughly 29 Cordobas to 1 dollar.
León is the second largest city in Nicaragua and is only a 40 minute drive on the newly paved road from our main camp. It was founded in 1524 by the Spaniards as León Santiago de los Caballeros and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial churches, secular buildings, and private residences.
LEÓN PATRIMONY OF THE HUMANITY
León has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation and its National Autonomous University of Nicaragua UNAN was founded in 1813, making it the second oldest university in Central America. León is well worth a visit for a day or a week! there is so much to see from stunning colonial cathedrals and churches, to a modern art museum spanning several revitalized colonial mansions and 2 botanic gardens. Also worth visiting are the Sandinista Revolution museum where you can climb on to the roof and overlooking the central square plus the surrounding city and in the distance the volcanoes and hills.
The cathedral is the most prominent building of León. It is situated at the central plaza, and the first construction of this huge building started over two centuries ago. You can enter the building, get a tour, and set your eyes on some great architecture or enjoy superb views from the rooftop of the building. It was declared a Patrimony of the Humanity by the UNESCO in 2011. From the rooftop, you will have a superb view of the city of León. You can see several other churches and other prominent buildings. You can also see the area around León, including many volcanoes if the sky is clear. The roof itself is impressive, and when ascending you will understand why it took over 30 years to complete the building.
The art center of the Ortiz Gurdián Foundation is composed of several restored, colonial buildings. Each building houses different expositions of paintings, sculptures, images, and contemporary arts.
The objects are lent from several other art galleries. There are also works from artists who participated in national art biennales, including pieces from an Austrian school, an Ecuadorian school, and a Peruvian school.
The general entrance fee is about $1. A visit with guide costs about $1.50 per person for groups of up to 5 people, while for larger group it costs $1 per person.