No complaints at all about Granada, Nicaragua! It’s a quiet, safe, friendly, cobble-stoned Colonial city with a lot of culture and plenty of things to see and do. I remember it being rediculously cheap, too, you can stay at a great hotel, feast, and take excursions outside of the city for a pretty minimal cost. In fact your money can probably be stretched further in Nicaragua than a lot of other places.
This is a must-see sight if you’re in the region. We took a tour to the top of the active volcano which you can literally stand a the edge of and look down to see the orange/red glow below. There’s a giant cross towering over the volcano which was apparantly built to “exorcise the demon from the volcano”, and if you’re lucky enough (they only allow a certain number of visitors to walk to the top every hour) to see the volcano from the highest lookout point during sunset its a pretty amazing sight. We were offered masks by our guides as an optional precaution from the sulfur dioxide gas. I only put mine on (as did most people) when we were pretty much peering over the edge into the volcano – we all felt sick afterwards. Common sense wasn’t too common that day…I highly recommend you put that mask on before you exit the vehicle to go see the volcano. After the volcano tour we toured a bat cave (yes, a bat cave) which was eerie, scary, disgustingly full of guano, but absolutely awesome. The cave went down about 200 meters and all you can think about while walking in the dark is a bat flying into your face or the cave collapsing in an earthquake or tremor from a volcanic eruption. It’s an exciting tour that’ll keep your adrenaline jacked, for anyone who’s not very claustrophobic. The next day we visited the Apoyo Lagoon which was an awesome place to spend an afternoon. The water was warm and clear, and full of floating volcanic rock. We also did a cloud forest tour, visited some local markets (the obvious tourist traps, evident by the visa and debit payment options offered by the vendors) and went zip-lining.
We stayed on Ometepe Island for a couple of nights. The best part about it was that it was a peaceful and quite retreat from some of the major cities we had passed through on our tour like Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Tela. Ometepe is a volcano island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the only real “excursion” we did was a long afternoon horseback ride to a few viewpoints around the island. This webiste has a lot of information on other things to see and do on Ometepe. Our hotel was very secluded and simple, not a TV or computer to be found. We had amazing weather on the island and spent most of our time swimming, relaxing and sleeping in hammocks on the beach.
We travelled with Toucan Travel, and our tour guide seemed to have the inside scoop on the best tours to take at the best prices. We noticed, just shopping on our own, that several independent tour operaters in Granada overcharged for a lot of services. By “overcharged”, I mean a $40 zip line tour from one operator costs $100 from another operator for the exact same tour. For a taste of all the tours and excursions you can do in Nicaragua check out this website.