Nicaragua Unveiled

The two volcanoes on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua are Concepcion and Maderas. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America and is home to the only freshwater sharks in the world.

The name Nicaragua comes from the words nicarao and agua. Nicarao Indians were the first Indian tribes to occupy Lake Nicaragua, and “agua” is Spanish for water. Nicaragua is “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” according to Nicaragua’s tourism website ( We got a little taste of that when Gabriel took us on a 12 hour road trip he calls Nicaragua Unveiled.

We hooked up with the Pan-American highway very near Lake Nicaragua, and turned north.

Local traffic on the Pan-American highway. The highway is the longest in the world, stretching from Proudhon Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.

As we headed northbound on the highway we drove past sugar cane fields, plantain farms, and cattle fields.

Our first stop was the town of Catarina. We stopped at a view point to see Laguna de Apoyo and Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

It was a party atmosphere at the view point with live music, street peddlers, and food. We took in the view and continued towards Granada.

Horse drawn carriages are a popular way to see Granada.

Gabriel had set up a tour of Granada for us. It was founded in 1524 by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. We breezed through the town at a fast trot. The following pictures of Granada were mostly taken on the fly.

We stopped a few times as Jonathan gave us facts about the town or specific buildings and houses.

The shuttered railway station, no longer in use.

A piñata shop.

Local women selling fruits and vegetables.

We stopped at the La Polvora fortress and gave the horses a breather in the shade. The fortress was built in 1748 as a supplier of gun powder. It also served as a prison and housed troops.

William Walker house, an American mercenary who usurped the presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856. He was defeated in 1857 by a coalition of Central American armies.

We covered a lot of the town, including the non tourist areas.

A woman cooking tortillas.

Colorful local buses, also known as a chicken bus.

Jonathan dropped us at Restaurante Las Colinas del Sur where we met Gabriel for lunch. The food and atmosphere were great. The entire country had experienced an electrical outage for quite a few hours, but the restaurant cooked with propane and was open air anyway. I would highly recommend this spot for a good local meal.

After a tasty lunch we drove the short distance to Masaya. The Lonely Planet guide book had suggested Masaya’s local art market as a good stop.

While driving through Masaya traffic we watched as these two boys ran up behind this pick up and hopped a ride, while it was moving. They enjoyed being photographed.

We parked and spent about an hour in the market. We all made a few purchases.

Locally made ceramics.

The market wall was decorated with a large, beautifully painted mural.

The market place was nothing if not colorful.

With purchases in hand, we continued with our day long odyssey. The most spectacular sight of the day was still to come. Our destination was the Parque National Volcano Masaya, Nicaragua’s first national park established in 1979. I’ve seen hot lava in Hawaii and witnessed Mt. St. Helen’s eruption in 1980, but those could not compare with walking right up to the edge of a caldera and looking down into a pit of red hot bubbling lava. It was truly spectacular.

The road to the viewpoint.

The park has a day time price, and reopens again at 530 pm with a $10 per person night time admission. You really need to see this at night. We got to the viewing point just before sunset. Great timing.

Looking over the edge. A great spot for pictures.

The pictures don’t even do it justice. It’s a sight that must be seen in person.

Completely happy with our day of Nicaragua Unveiled, we sat back and relaxed (sort of) as Gabriel drove us back to the resort. The night drive was an adventure of its own, but we did make it back all in one piece. Many thanks to Gabriel for a job well done, and all the driving.

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3 Responses to Nicaragua Unveiled

  1. Rich says:

    Great post, Laura! What an action-packed day you had! Peering down into the red, hot center of the volcano must have been spectacular to see in person.

  2. Teresa Favazza says:

    Very beautiful and colorful adventure!
    Looks like they have plenty of good fruits and veggies but they need to feed the horses😞

  3. Sartenada says:


    Never been to Nicaragua. Your photos show that it is interesting place.

    Happy and safe travels!

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