Nicaragua
Departamento de León

Here you’ll find travel reports about Departamento de León. Discover travel destinations in Nicaragua of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

62 travelers at this place:

  • Day370

    Leon

    May 11 in Nicaragua

    A 3 hour mini-bus ride took us to Leon.
    We found this city to feel much larger and grittier than Granada. There are bars on every door and window, yet it still manages to be a somewhat charming, historic colonial city. There’s (seemingly) a church on every corner - some with very ornate and colorful facades, some looking ready to recede into tropical decay.
    Despite its’ violent past, and recent violent protests in Managua, here in Leon seems relaxed. However, talking to our hotel owner, he believes things could change very quickly, not for the good. The US Embassy seems to share this pessimism as we’ve been getting nearly daily travel warnings for the country. It’s been reported that as many as 60 people have been killed in protest-related violence so far. While we’ve felt relatively safe here, we’re looking forward to moving on to Guatemala.
    A highlight of our visit was The Ortiz Foundation Art Center. Housed in several beautiful and sprawling colonial mansions, it was unexpectedly impressive. While it mostly highlighted Central American artists - some very, very good - we also saw works by Picasso, Warhol, Basquiat,and Mondrian - to name a few. Not what we expected, not advertised much, and totally deserted…apart from us and the dozen or so security guards following us around turning on and off the lights and fans in the rooms we entered, then left.
    Summary: Heat:…diabolical, Mosquitoes…bad! Beer…average. Tropical fruit – mango, papaya, passion-fruit …very good! Coffee…excellent – though now John can’t nap (which is bad for everyone).
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  • Day92

    Familienanschluss.....

    February 26 in Nicaragua

    Ein schönes Wochenende in Condega verbracht!

    Nach abenteuerlicher Reise von den Maisinseln in Nicaraguas Norden wurden wir von den beiden Daniels warmherzig empfangen und fortan rund um die Uhr gefüttert und versorgt. Christiane stellte uns ihre beiden engen Freunde während der Filmtage 2016 vor und wir erzählten ihnen von unseren Reiseplänen, woraufhin sofort eine Einladung folgte. Condega ist eine unaufgeregte Kleinstadt in der Nähe der honduranischen Grenze und hat aus touristischer Sicht nicht viel zu bieten. Uns gefiel aber genau das sehr gut. So bekommt Frau/man einen kleinen Einblick in das alltägliche Leben abseits der kolonialen Vorzeigestädte. Wir machten Ausflüge in die nähere Umgebung und chillten ansonsten so rum 😀. Das Anwesen von Daniel und Danielito bietet viele liebevoll gestaltete Orte zum Verweilen und eine verspielte Teenager-Katze sowie drei zehn Tage alte Babykatzen, denen frau/man stundenlang beim Welt-erkunden zusehen konnte. Wir sprachen viel über Politik, die Situation Nicaraguas, den allgegenwärtigen Machismus, die Schönheit des Landes, über Reisen usw.
    Schön war das und sehr, sehr herzlich.
    Gestern dann ging's nach einer letzten Fütterung mit diversen Chickenbussen hauptsächlich stehend nach Leon, einer tollen, lebendigen Stadt!
    Aber dazu an anderer Stelle mehr.
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  • Day40

    Leon, Nicaragua

    February 9, 2015 in Nicaragua

    Vanaf Utila – Honduras gaan we naar Leon – Nicaragua. De tocht duurt maar liefst 17 uur incl. bootreis, lang wachten tot het busje weg gaat ( Midden Amerikaanse tijd zeg maar ) en de eetlust van de chauffeurs want we stoppen bij zoveel mogelijk wegrestaurants ( Midden Amerikaanse eetlust zeg maar ) De bus rit was lang en oncomfortabel, omdat ze zoveel mogelijk mensen in een busje stoppen. De mensen in de bus waren wel heel leuk waardoor we veel leuke gesprekken hebben over buitenlandse gewoontes. Bijvoorbeeld: in Zuid Korea eten ze hele verse rauwe inktvis, zodat het nog beweegt in je mond... dit gaan we dus niet proberen als we naar Zuid Korea gaan. Eenmaal aangekomen in Leon hebben we de rest van de tijd in Leon met onze nieuwe vrienden opgetrokken. We hebben samen gekookt, gefeest en de stad verkent. De stad heeft veel kerken en eentje daarvan is de grootste van Midden Amerika. Daar konden we zelfs het dak op dat spierwit is. En we wilden er ook nog even tussenuit knijpen met z'n tweeen dus we zijn ook nog even naar de film geweest. Het was heerlijk om even in de airco te zitten en het koud te hebben ( sorry voor alle mensen die midden in de winter zitten en de kou al zat zijn )Read more

  • Day43

    Vulkaan Telica, Nicaragua

    February 12, 2015 in Nicaragua

    Nadat Sabrina na de tocht op de Pacaya vulkaan in Guatemala helemaal geen spierpijn had, dachten we dat we ook wel een zwaardere toch aan konden... dus... we gaan op een twee daagse tocht de vulkaan op. De klim viel alsnog tegen, helemaal omdat we nu met alle campinggear en eten naar boven moesten. Maar.. eenmaal aangekomen is het fantastisch. Het uitzicht, een kudde paarden dat los rondloopt, het kampvuurtje, eten maken in het kampvuurtje, de zonsondergang, de lava in de vulkaan, slapen in de openlucht, de sterren en de zonsopgang! De tocht naar beneden is ook interessant we komen langs verschillende landschappen, skeletten van koeien en paarden, boeren met hun vee, hagedissen en bijzondere vogels. Deze keer ging de spierpijn de komende 3 dagen niet meer weg.Read more

  • Day354

    Eco

    May 5, 2017 in Nicaragua

    We cruised a couple of hours down from Somoto to the large town of Estelí. We spent a hour or two exploring the town and getting a feel for Nicaragua. There wasn't much to do in the town and I didn't feel like another 3 hours drive down to León, so we decided to head into the eco community areas this region is famous for.

    The road started well enough but the final km to the café finca (coffee farm) was probably the worst road we've traveled on, with large water channels cutting wheel sized ruts into the muddy, steep and winding road.

    Despite that it was a nice chilled stop and in the morning we did a short but glorious walk up to the Tisey Mirador (viewpoint). Unsurprisingly they did a pretty mean cup of Joe (coffee for the non-yanks) as well!
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  • Day465

    Jo's Quetzaltrekkers reflections

    August 24, 2017 in Nicaragua

    I wanted to write about the 3 months we've just spent living and working in Leon as it's been so different from the rest of our trip. It's been an incredible experience and there have been highs (both literally & figuratively) and lows during which I've learnt so much about myself, which surprised me at my ripe old age!

    I have to say to start with I struggled, both with the hiking & the social side of being thrown in with a bunch of teenagers and early 20somethings. Much more so than Phil who reveled in both the physical challenge and the chance to act like a 20 year old again :) On my first hike I was with 2 guides Max & Job who were teaching me the ropes when I discovered to my horror (& probably theirs) that I was older than both of their combined ages... On my first Telica hike the guide training me, Soren, had just turned 19 and we had two 20 year old clients who liked to run marathons so unsurprisingly I was by far the slowest & was practically in tears during the steep section. On another memorable early hike a client was really struggling, so much so I took her bag but she suddenly fainted right in front of me she was unconscious for about a minute, which was one of the longest minutes of my life. I felt so alone & out of my depth and the responsibility of what we were doing really hit home. (It all ended ok, we got her down the volcano and into hospital where it turned out she had a kidney infection - I took her on another hike a couple of weeks later & she did brilliantly.) All in all I really wondered if I would be able to stick out the 3 months we had committed to do.

    However I persevered, became fitter and stopped worrying about speed or holding back groups. In fact I naturally preferred being the guide at the back of the group who had to help the clients who were struggling, it was so rewarding to get someone to push themselves and discover they could do so much more than they had imagined. I had one client who cried at the beginning because she didn't think she could do it but by the end was crying with joy as she was so proud of herself. I also had the pleasure of guiding my sister on our hikes, showing her the beautiful landscapes & amazing views we've been living with.

    As for the other guides they are some of the nicest most genuine people I've had the privilege to meet. They were initially a bit skeptical when they heard an 'older couple' were going to be guides but I have to say they got over our age differences much more quickly than I did. They were much better at rolling with the issues and annoyances which invariably came up which initially frustrated me but I grew to appreciate the attitude that we'd sort out anything that arose one way or another. "At Quetzaltrekkers we are very good problem solvers!" Miguel Canto guide 2017. I discovered some new bands (Glass Animals) and music genres (Reggaton) and we spent way too much time discussing possible GoT plot twists over way too many beers at Via Via. At our various parties I became the chief Mojito maker & learnt that syrup works amazingly well if you've run out of sugar (this twist on the classic cocktail was named the 'MojiJo').

    It has been a great confidence boost to find out that I could succeed in a totally different, physical work environment, learn to need less control & roll with whatever came my way whilst making so many new friends. Overall I'm really proud with myself, I did 12 overnight hikes & have climbed Cerro Negro countless times for volcano boarding. I found out that on the hikes I did in July I made over $3500 in profit going directly to underprivileged kids in and around Leon. Now it's time to move on, it's been emotional & I'm sad to say goodbye but satisfied in a job well done.
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  • Day26

    5am and heading for Nicaragua

    January 28, 2017 in Nicaragua

    We are going to Nicaragua by boat and not a fancy boat. The trip is quite pleasant and we get ponchos smelling of fuel when the waves just start getting bigger and start soaking us!

    We arrive at a beach in Nicaragua and get out of the boat into the water then walk onto the beach. Such an odd way to enter the country.

    Thankfully a guy is there to carry our bags up the beach to the mini van - the guy carried three bags at once! I tipped him well as he works for tips and only works when these tours arrive by boat.

    Also the people working in the customs office only put on uniforms when tours like ours arrive!

    We drive to Leon the second largest town in Nicaragua. Lots of poverty in the rural parts as you can see.

    The town is very busy with lots of bars and restaurants. We have a leisurely lunch in a lovely place with a courtyard and hammocks! I am loving it.

    After a late and long lunch we have a quick walk around, make a supermarket stop, eat at MacDonalds and then go back to the hotel to rest.

    And what am I doing tomorrow!!!

    Climbing another volcano!!

    Photos:
    1 Leaving El Salvador
    2 & 3 we arrive!
    4 & 5 Rural life
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  • Day27

    Volcano attempt number two

    January 29, 2017 in Nicaragua

    I hiked up a live volcano and then slid down the side of it on volcanic ash on a wooden board at a 45 degree angle!!

    Never thought I would do that! The lawyer in me is saying an extreme sport will not be covered by insurance and is this a good idea!

    I did ask alot of questions though after the last debacle!

    This is the only place in the world where you can do this so I think it is a must. The volcano is Cerro Negro and it is one of the youngest and most active volcanoes in Central America.

    We set off at 6.30am in a four wheel drive and everyone had a proper seat! An hour's drive and then we start hiking. Check out my board!

    It wasn't too bad but it is abit slippery climbing over the loose volcanic rocks.

    Going early we miss the heat and the crowds. Its very windy at the top though. On go the protective suit, gloves and goggles and we are ready!
    Leaning back makes you go faster and you keep your heels on the ash as you go down.

    Some people can clock up speeds of 100km. The record is 175km on a bike but the guy that did that broke both his arms legs collarbone and various other bones on his first attempt when his bike broke in half!

    It was so much fun and I wanted to go faster but couldn't lift my heels up high enough! The guide said he was very impressed with my run! Some people didn't slide much at all and others only half way down. We all got covered in ash though with lots of grit and little rocks in our hair.

    Totally exhausted though. After getting lunch we set off for Granada about three hours away.

    Once in Granada we get the most extensive and comprehensive safety briefing so far! Basically never go anywhere alone, if out at night get a taxi, if you go out at night beware of everyone, don't use any ATM that doesn't have an armed guard, only venture three blocks down the main street, avoid side streets, particularly the one that runs right pass the hotel!!, don't walk through any park after 5pm and then a list of alot of places you can't go near and a list of other places where you can go but you must get the hell out of there before 4.30 when its starts to go bad!

    We are all wondering if the hotel is the best place to spend our time!

    We head out for dinner and the main street and square are very lively. We have a great meal sitting outside with lots of street entertainment.

    An excellent day!!

    Photos

    The crater at the top of the volcano
    What we climbed up
    Protective gear blown up by the wind
    What we saw as we started our slide!
    Down we go!
    Off I go!!
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  • Day142

    Léon, Nicaragua

    March 8, 2017 in Nicaragua

    Churches, churches and air conditioning!!!!

    Léon was far from the top of my list of places to visit in Nicaragua. However, there was an abundance of goodword and a fairly strong vote from the team, so we booked in two nights at the hostel Tortuga Booluda. Another fleeting visit sandwiched between more of Nicaragua's delightful buses. This included our second breakdown within a week and we barely batted an eyelid - our complaints nipped at the bud for the one and only reason that we're paying less for these buses than the pocket money I used to earn for mowing 18 hectares of lawn.

    Léon has historical significance to Nicaraguans for it's role in the civil war but for tourists it's the churches, culture and colonial architecture which are the main attractions. It's a little disappointing that the town doesn't place more emphasis on it's history. Only a short read (thanks Lonely Planet) into the tumultuous and frankly disturbing last century left me baffled with what these people have faced. Selfish dictatorship, wreckless external military interference, corrupt politics and ethnically diverse colonialism have left Nicaragua pretty close to rock bottom. They faced famine, strangulation by trade embargos, war, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, mass murder, serial assassinations, government sanctioned torture - oh, and I almost forgot - bombings by their own government! All of those in no mean number: 50,000 were killed in the revolution (many innocent bombing casualties) and 6,000 in the 1972 earthquake. That's a pretty decent chunk of the six million people that call this country home.

    So now when I tell you their GDP isn't too far off that of your average upper class American, you'll probably believe me. As a matter of fact, I'm impressed they even have one; until late in the 20th century 50% of the population were illiterate and unemployment was around 20%. It goes without saying the people are poor - $1US = 30 Cordoba and that will get you a beer in a bar. THIS is a country where your money goes a long way and you're more than happy to spend it. Or give it away. Depending on how fresh these facts are in your literate brain.

    It's understandable that religion (catholicism) has engrained itself in Nicaraguan culture, and it is impossible to overlook the enormity of this in the centre of Léon. Churches exist in numbers so great it is difficult to walk a block without seeing one. Many are immaculately restored, boldly and beautifully framed in a deep blue sky, others less so but more practical in nature, and if you wander the right way, you'll see those that lay in ruin - obliterated by shellings and left in that state as a visual reminder of their gruesome history. The Catedral de Leon is the biggest in central america, blindingly bright and white in the centre of town. It's impressive. And for $3US you can access the roof, get close up with the domes and bell towers and take in Léon from a height, backdropped by numerous (some still active) volcanoes. Which is just what we did.

    We spent many hours wandering the streets in the 35° heat, taking this all in and as a result spent many hours retiring at the hostel in recovery. For the first time since the US, our room had air conditioning and it was glorious! We had that thing pumping to the max all day everyday - probably contributing to local powercuts - but keeping our room tolerably cool for once! I tell you, I wouldn't need to think twice about replacing my luggage with an AC unit, if practicality would have it so.

    We declined on tours in Léon partly due to expense and partly because we had already done or were about to do similar activities. Well, that and did I mention we had AC to capitalise on!

    One afternoon Cat and I ventured to the museum of legends and traditions. I can honestly tell you this was the most ridiculous experience on this trip. We were offered a free english speaking guide upon entry and snapped him up, for opportunities like that are rare in this place! Without hesistation, he began a well rehearsed monologue, his voice a mildy comprehensible dull combination of Siri, a robot and a rambling spaniard. He made my speech seem positively normal and drained the mental concentration of both Cat and I within minutes. That was before we discovered what we had signed up for.

    The tour was in an ex-prison, still fitted with iron gates and tatty barbed wire. Inside the cells were life-sized figures, representing historical leaders, skeleton horses, crazy witches and disproportionately large headed Nicaraguans, complete with streamers as hair. All of which were created in that awkwardly creepy zone between real life and cartoon. To add to our brewing condition, old mate had a crazy eye and his wife was sifting behind us, thin as a rake and oddly remissive of the 'legends' about which he spoke. At one point it got so creepy I was confident we were about to get locked in a cell. Only having seen two other people on the premises made my confidence in this fate more concrete. But I'm writing this now so you know we're both safe, phew!

    We learnt of tales that, on the tale spectrum, lie between outrageous and utterly insane. Perhaps the most notable was of a hideous woman who had no success in finding a man to wed. She did, however, have fantastic breasts and used these to lure in men - all the while keeping her face hidden. Once the men were preoccupied with her breast (s?) she either (a) strangled them to death or (b) poisoned them with her breast milk - we were unable to decipher which it was. The moral? One can only guess that men should stop being so shallow. I won't put you through anymore, but I'll have you know the lady who curated the museum deserved to be an exhibition herself. Oh, that and I felt an unusually large sense of relief to walk out the front gates...

    We ate on the street that night in Léon. Delicious hamburgers the size of your face. Every western meal we eat is appreciated, briefly before kicking yourself for what your paid and how your going to feel about it later. What's hot right now? Plaintain crisps are on point - they're less sweet than a banana and come sliced long ways, like filling crisps. Passionfruit juice is everywhere and cheap as chips - odd because the price of a passion fruit doesn't correlate. The local drop Toña is going down a treat in this temperature and a a shade over a dollar a pop they're pretty hard to resist. Don't mention the vegetables mum, there's plenty of avacado on the menu!

    We took a rain check on the volcano boarding that is offered by every vendor in Léon. A combination of expense, bus rides and climbing another volcano in this heat was enough to put us off. I'm sure we'll find better use for the money!

    That's all for Léon. A very relaxing stop indeed. Onwards to Granada now and that means more buses - woohoo!
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  • Day372

    Telica Sunrise

    May 23, 2017 in Nicaragua

    (hugely out of date post!)

    So we started work and the first thing I did was volunteer to swap a hike with one of the other guides who wasn't feeling too great. After doing all the prep the night before we had a 5am start to make sure our clients had a hearty breakfast before we headed out up Telica, a very active volcano.

    An hour long chicken bus ride dropped us at the bubbling mud pools and we hiked a couple of hours across lush finca (farm) land before we hit the volcano itself. A steep and sweaty hour climb followed, and I was pleased to find myself in decent shape, despite the ridiculously heavy rucksack. As there's no water on the volcano and with this heat/humidity everyone has to carry 8 litres of water, as well as a tent and/or a chunk of heavy food - no dry noodles here!

    The camp spot is just below the bellowing crater of a volcano that was chucking rocks at this very spot only last year. We headed up to the crater edge and peered down the vertical sides into the deep crater hoping to see lava but unfortunately there was way too much acrid sulphur smoke coming out to even get a glimpse, but the true size and power of this volcano was pretty evident. We checked out the bat cave, with loads of little bats skittering around when our torch beams disturbed them, and then we watched the sun disappear behind San Cristóbal, the next volcano in the Maribios chain and the highest in Nicaragua (1728m).

    Marden, one of only 2 local guides, cooked a delicious veggy pasta followed by the obligatory roasted marshmallows, before we turned in for the night. In the morning it was a 4:30am start and we were quickly up the steep hill for a spectacular sunrise across the flat plains before the mountains I the north.

    The second day of Telica is a short one, with about 2.5 hours down to what the guides call 'the desert', although TBH isn't as bad as it sounds. When we are really lucky we get picked up by one of the other tour groups who drive their 4x4s to here, but normally we have to slog through a dry river bed of a road for another half an hour before we get a long chicken bus in town.

    There's an never-ending debate amongst the guys about which is easier/better, and after doing them both a bunch of times I'm leaning towards Telica being my fav. The crater is just awesome, particularly when the smoke clears for a few seconds and you see the lava river dribbling through the crater floor. I also like getting back to town before 12 as it's almost like having a day off, particularly of you have something the next day and need to start prep again at 6pm.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Departamento de León, Departamento de Leon, León

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