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Nicaragua

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Hotel Camino Real
Hotel Camino Real - dream vacation

Km 9.5 Carretera NorteManagua

Barcelo Montelimar Beach
Barcelo Montelimar Beach - dream vacation

PO Box 1262 Playa MontelimarMontelimar

Hotel Plaza Colon
Hotel Plaza Colon - dream vacation

In front of Parque CentralGranada

Barcelo Managua
Barcelo Managua - dream vacation

Enitel Villa Fontana, 500 mts al SurManagua

InterContinental Real Metrocentro Managua
InterContinental Real Metrocentro Managua - dream vacation

Frente A Centro Comercial MetrocentroManagua

Hilton Princess Managua
Hilton Princess Managua - dream vacation

Km 4.5 Carretera a MasayaManagua

Nicaragua ( (listen); Spanish: [nika??a?wa]), officially the Republic of Nicaragua (Spanish: República de Nicaragua ), is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

Originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures since ancient times, the Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. The Mosquito Coast followed a different historical path, with the English colonizing it in the 17th century and later coming under the British rule, as well as some minor Spanish interludes in the 19th century. It became an autonomous territory of Nicaragua in 1860 and the northernmost part of it was later transferred to Honduras in 1960. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, occupation and fiscal crisis, leading to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Contra War of the 1980s.

The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in folklore, cuisine, music, and literature, particularly the latter given the literary contributions of Nicaraguan poets and writers, such as Rubén Darío. Known as the "land of lakes and volcanoes", Nicaragua is also home to the second-largest rainforest of the Americas. The country has set a goal of 90% renewable energy by the year 2020. The biological diversity, warm tropical climate and active volcanoes make Nicaragua an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Street crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is common, and tends to increase during holiday seasons such as Christmas and Easter. Use only hotels that provide adequate security.

Remain alert when walking in markets, in the vicinity of the old cathedral in Managua, near Tica bus (the terminal for lines coming from Honduras and Costa Rica), at public transportation terminals and in poorer areas. Avoid the Mercado Oriental in Managua. Exercise common sense and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Carry a photocopy of the identification page of your passport and a photocopy of the page that was stamped by local immigration authorities at the point of entry, and keep the original in a secure place. Do not carry large sums of money, especially while travelling on buses. Purse, backpack and jewellery snatching occurs while drivers are stopped at intersections and while pedestrians are walking on the street.

Violent crime, including armed robbery and sexual assault, occurs in ManaguaGranada and San Juan del Sur, as well as in Bonanza, La Rosita, Siuna and on Little Corn Island. Express kidnappings, in which victims are abducted for a few hours and forced to withdraw money from automated banking machines, also occur in these areas. If attacked, do not resist, as criminals often carry weapons and may become violent.

There have been incidents, some violent, of passengers being robbed by taxi drivers or by people posing as taxi drivers using unauthorized taxi signs on their cars. Take taxis from hotels or from main entrances to shopping malls, and make detailed arrangements for the return trip. Use only taxis that have red plates and that have a circle on the door that says Cooperativa or taxi services ordered by phone. Arrange with the taxi driver not to pick up any other passengers on the way to your destination, even if it is more expensive.

Police presence is extremely scarce outside of major urban areas. Restrict travel to tourist areas and to daylight hours. Hitchhiking in Nicaragua is highly unadvisable. Travel in groups whenever possible.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur occasionally and may cause traffic disruptions as well as threats to physical security. Clashes have occurred between law enforcement and protestors and between rival political groups. Incidents have involved the use of rubber bullets, rock throwing, tire burning, road blocks, as well as the burning of buses and other vehicles. Stay alert, avoid large crowds and keep informed of possible roadblocks.

Periodic violence may occur on the streets, particularly in Managua, as a result of protests. Access to the Managua International Airport and to the area of Carretera a Masaya (where universities, shopping malls and restaurants are located) may be affected.

Road travel

Despite regular security patrols by the Nicaraguan Army and Police, armed banditry occurs in areas near Bonanza, La Rosita and Siuna (the Mining Triangle) in northeastern Nicaragua. Carjackings have also been reported between Managua and Puerto Cabezas. Restrict road travel in these area to daylight hours, and travel in convoys of at least two vehicles. Due to this type of criminal activity, only travel overland to Honduras on highways with official border crossings at Guasaule, El Espino and Las Manos.

Driving standards are fair. Except for the Pan-American Highway, most roads lack shoulders, are narrow, potholed and poorly lit. Road signs are usually non-existent, and most streets are unnamed. Detours are common but are often not marked. Driving after dark is very dangerous. Roadside assistance is not available. Cell phone coverage outside urban areas is fair in the central and pacific areas, but can be lacking in mountainous areas and in the Caribbean. Keep your car windows closed and doors locked when driving through crowded areas.

Vehicles, especially taxis and buses, are poorly maintained. Avoid using public transportation, which is overcrowded, unreliable and often targeted by pickpockets. Avoid conversations with friendly strangers and do not reveal your intended destination. Do not agree to share a cab at the end of a bus ride, and be cautious of any advice and/or shortcut that could convince you to get off a bus earlier than planned. There have been many instances of travellers being assaulted in such situations.

Marine transportation

The Caribbean and, to a lesser extent, the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua are known to be drug transit zones.

General safety information

Exercise caution when swimming, as strong currents and undertows have resulted in drownings. Warning signs, lifeguards and rescue equipment are often lacking.

Fraudulent tour guides have been known to operate on the island of Ometepe. Consult hotel staff and local authorities for information on reputable tour guides.

Nicaragua does not have an extensive tourist infrastructure. INTUR, the governmental agency responsible for developing, regulating and promoting tourism in Nicaragua, offers some information in English.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical care is limited, especially outside of Managua. Certain types of medical equipment or medications may be unavailable in the country. Most doctors and hospital personnel do not speak English or French. Many institutions often expect immediate cash payment for medical care, except for a few private hospitals that will accept major credit cards for payment and in which doctors usually speak English.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and jail sentences. The conditions in Nicaraguan prisons are extremely basic; prisoners are expected to supply their own food, bedding and medical care beyond basic first aid. A transfer of offenders treaty has not been signed with Nicaragua.

Laws

Canadians in Nicaragua may use their Canadian driver’s licence for no more than 30 days, after which they must obtain an international driving permit. Vehicle insurance is mandatory for foreigners (including residents).

Money

The currency is the córdoba (NIO). Most restaurants and hotels in Managua accept credit cards. Canadian dollars cannot be exchanged for local currency anywhere, but U.S. dollars (in cash or traveller’s cheques) are widely used. Exchange foreign currency only at banks or official exchange offices.

Climate

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

Nicaragua is located in a very active seismic zone. Familiarize yourself with your hotel’s earthquake security measures. Volcanic activity also occurs. The San Cristóbal and Cerro Negro volcanoes are particularly active. Officials continue to monitor the Santiago volcano, located in Parque Volcán Masaya, approximately 25 kilometres south of Managua. Eruptions are possible. Ash fall and gas emanations are hazardous. Do not visit the park while it is closed. Follow the advice of local authorities in the event of earthquakes and volcanic explosions or eruptions.

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