Overlanding Nicaragua: burning lava, cool lagunes and colorful towns

I do believe it’s time for another adventure.

What did we like in Nicaragua?

  • With 28 volcanoes, Nicaragua takes you back to a Jurassic Park look and vibe. You can’t open your eyes without seeing one in the background. And that’s an extraordinary feeling! Volcanoes who destroyed towns, sleeping ones, with or without lava and the baby volcanoes – Nicaragua has it all.

  • Fancy food for reasonable prices! Especially in Granada and Léon, we enjoyed eating out like we were back in Antwerp. From eclectic vegan to juicy steaks, amazing lobster and arty cappuccinos – friends, this is the place to be!

  • Here in Nicaragua, you can be a nature enthousiast, a beach glamourist and a city stroller in the same day. Distances or small so you can go with the flow and do whatever you’re in the mood for!
  • We were blessed to celebrate my 30th and Dimitri’s 32nd birthday In Nicaragua. With only a week apart, we made every day a celebration day (cheers)! A special thank you goes out to my mum who made it out here to celebrate with us! After 8 months of traveling, it was so fun catching up face to face. Love you!

What didn’t we like?

  • Maybe a good mention for our fellow travelers: Léon Viejo is nothing much… we expected something like Pompei, but it’s just a bunch of ruins and a lot of grass. The tour takes about 45 minutes (walking very slowly). If you’ve got nothing else to do it’s probably just fine, but we wouldn’t make the detour again.

The highlights of overlanding Nicaragua

  • Although Granada and Léon are small towns – you can visit them in one day – we were delighted by their colorful and colonial style. It’s a happy place to wander around, grab a coffee or a cocktail on a terrace and have a great night eating out.
    Note: we took a free walking tour in Léon. We spend more than 2 hours for a couple of blocks and found it a bit boring. You won’t miss anything if you decide to skip it and go explore on your own!


  • If you’re in the mood for a touristy beach town, head up to San Juan del Sur. Spend the day at the beach, have a lunch at the peer, do some shopping in the late afternoon and if you’re there on a Sunday you can join the ‘Sunday funday’ pub crawl 🙂

  • If you want to be excited as a kid again, go see the Masaya Volcano! We’re talking about real lava bubbling away with misty smoke surrounding it. You definitely should go at night so that the contrast with the pitch black sky and the orange red glow is at its best. You can drive all the way to the top but don’t waste your time, you only have about 15 minutes to be amazed before your time’s up. Use it wisely 😉

  • Aaah, the Ometepe Island! Shaped like an 8 with 2 volcano peaks, beautiful! Catch a ferry and if you can, spend a couple of days here. We did a one day trip and felt like we didn’t have enough time to see it all. We did the hike around the Laguna Charco verde where we spotted a lot of monkeys and stopped by a butterfly house. We took a glance at the Ojo de agua and ended up at the Punta Jesus Maria. It’s a small sand peak that splits the water in two where you can walk on water like Jesus did.

  • At the Apoyo Lagoon, we found the perfect place to set up camp for a couple of days. It’s a volcanic crater lake of an extinct volcano. The view is drop dead gorgeous. You can snorkel, paddle and even go on a party boat (we thought it disturbed the peacefulness of the whole set-up but if you want, you can do that). We did some catching up on our work, reading, tanning and swimming 🙂

  • Climbing on rocks, floating over small rapids and jumping off cliffs. Somoto Canyon, we loved everything about you! It took me 20 minutes to finally jump off a 10 meter high cliff. What did the trick was not my own motivation, apparently, but peer pressure. A local family who had watch me struggle from down low, did a final countdown: 5 4 3 2 1! And BAM, I  jumped. Just Like that. It scared the crap out of me but the rewardful rush was unbelievable. What a thrill! We camped at our guide’s family property. Together with Fausto and his 4 siblings, parents, children and a bunch of cows, pigs, chickens, cat and dogs, we felt really welcomed and enjoyed a nice home cooked traditional meal.

Where to next?

In the beginning of this week, we crossed Honduras and are currently at Playa El Zonte in El Salvador. We are camping with 3 parrots, an iguana, a cat and 2 dogs at a beautiful spot right across the beach. With 2 pools, a rooftopbar overlooking surfers and lovely people, we’re happy to stay here a few more days before crossing the border to Guatamala for new adventures.

PS: If you missed us on Radio 2 with ‘Frituur De Wereld’, you can listen (in Dutch) and watch it here! We made a little movie, just for you.


Enjoy our pics and see you later!


Big hugs to all of you,
Sarah & Dimitri



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