Don't even think about taking the local bus......your just looking for trouble at that point !!!!! The buses run it seem everywhere, but the chances that you get on the right bus are slim and the chances that you exist the bus with all of your possesions...even slimmer !!!!! Don't be cheap.....Take a taxi.....ask for the price then bargain for the fare......from one side of the city to the other runs about $4 US......for being cheap you might end up in more trouble than you've ever encountered !!!!!!
I bought the ticket for the flight from a travel agent in Granada about 10 days ahead of the journey. A return ticket with La Costeña was 177 US dollars (July 2009).
4.30 in the morning I took a shuttle from the hostel in Managua to the airport. It took half an hour to the airport and as I shared it with someone else it was 10 dollars, otherwise it would have been 15 dollars. Arriving at the airport I paid a tax of 40 cordobas (2 dollars) before checking in. When checking in my big backpack they did not only weigh it, but also my hand luggage and me. The domestic hall at the airport is not very big but there are two news stands/cafeterias. I bought a newspaper (7 cordobas) and toast and coffee for breakfast (44 cordobas).
The plane was supposed to leave at 6.30 but was a little bit delayed. On the way to Corn Island we went down in Bluefields. To Big Corn Island we arrived at 8.30. From the airport I shared a taxi to the Municipal Wharf and we paid 20 cordobas each (August 2009). Also when I went the opposite way a few days later I paid 20 cordobas, even if I was alone in the taxi.
Also flying from the airport on Big Corn Island you pay an airport tax of 2 dollars (41 cordobas). Going back to Managua I took the afternoon plane. Both La Costeña and Atlantic Airways have a morning flight and an afternoon flight. The plane left at 15.55, 15 minutes after schedule, and made a short stop in Bluefields before continuing to Managua. Back in Managua I took a taxi to the hostel and paid 15 dollars.
The bus from Pochomil to Managua leaves not far from Hotel Alta Mar where I was staying. I went down to the bus stop, but there was still some time before the bus was leaving so I sat on the bus talking to the driver for a while. Before the bus had left Pochomil and Masachapa the bus was packed with people, but many of them went off in San Rafael del Sur. To Managua the bus ride took 1 hour 50 minutes and it was 22 cordobas (July 2009).
In Managua the bus stopped at terminal Mercado Israel Lewites. I knew there were buses for León leaving from the same terminal and I was happy that I didn’t have to take a taxi somewhere else. The driver from Pochomil told me I didn’t have to take one of the big slow buses as there were faster microbuses for León leaving from nearby. He told me to walk out to the main road and about 20 metres to my left I would find the microbuses. And so I did. I got the last seat and soon the microbus left. It took almost 1.5 hours to León and it was 40 cordobas. In León the bus stopped at the main terminal which is situated about 1km northeast of Parque Central and from there I walked to the hotel.
My first intention was to travel from Granada via Jinotepe and El Cruzero to Pochomil, to avoid going to Managua and taking a taxi there to another terminal, but at my hotel they told me it would take a very long time as buses were infrequent. So I took a microbus from Granada to Managua. They leave only a block from Hostal San Angel where I was staying , it took about one hour and the cost was 20 cordobas (July 2009).
The microbuses from Granada stop at UCA in Managua. I thought I had to take a taxi to Mercado Israel Lewites as the buses to Pochomil leave from there. But luckily someone told me that the microbus standing just where I went off the Granada bus was going to Jinotepe and I could take it to El Cruzero where I could wait for the bus to Pochomil (coming from Israel Lewites). That was a good option. To El Cruzero it took 35 minutes and it was 20 cordobas. I was dropped at a bus stop where other people were waiting and there was also a couple of fruit stands there. After waiting less than half an hour the bus to Pochomil came. It took one our and was 12 cordobas. In Pochomil I went all the way to the end stop.
All together the journey took three hours.
In León buses and microbuses to Managua leave from the main bus station , which is situated more than a kilometre northeast of Parque Central. I took a microbus, which left when full. The ride took 1 h 15 minutes and it was 40 cordobas (July 2009). In Managua the bus stopped at UCA (it also passed the Israel Lewites terminal).
In Managua I was going to Managua Backpackers Inn, which is only 1km away from where the bus stopped. I wanted to walk and had intended to follow the main road. I knew the direction, but asked a couple from the bus, just in case. They told me not too walk, it would be too dangerous, and they told me to take a taxi waiting just by the bus. So, I took the taxi and paid 30 cordobas for the ride.
Managua is not a walk friendly city and as there were several places I wanted to visit and they were far apart I decided to take a taxi. I asked at the hostel what I should pay for a taxi per hour and they said 6 dollar should be the right price (August 2009). I walked to Metrocentro and outside that shopping mall you will find a line of taxis with red plates. I asked the first taxi driver for the price and he said it was 10 dollars per hour. When I said they had said 6 dollars at Managua Backpackers Inn he said that that was the price. I used the taxi for five hours and the next day I came back and took another taxi for two hours. Both the taxi drivers were nice men.
Because of these taxi tours many of my pictures from Managua are taken through the car window.
I arrived to Managua early in the morning. The exchange offices had not opened jet, but I found an ATM in the departure hall. I was approached by a taxi driver who showed his badge and told me he drove an official taxi (with red plates). He wanted to have 16 dollars (July 2009) for driving me to the bus terminal at Roberto Huembes.
As the taxi stopped at Roberto Humbes the car was surrounded with men asking me were I was going. One man grabbed my bag and I told him I wanted to carry it myself. He refused to give it back but told me not to worry and showed his t-shirt with the name of a bus company. He took me on board a bus to Rivas and put my backpack on the shelf above my seat. The bus was very busy with people going back and forth selling things and the man leaned over me and asked for 20 cordobas (1 dollar) for showing me the right bus. The situation felt quite aggressive so I paid and then took my backpack down and put it against the wall by my legs. There was still room for a passenger next to me. The bus was soon filled up and we left. The bus ride to Rivas took about 2 hours and it was 40 cordobas (July 2009).
In Rivas the bus stopped at the terminal, and from the same terminal buses leave for San Juan del Sur. They leave every half an hour so I didn’t have to wait long for the next bus. To San Juan del Sur it took 40 minutes and it was 15 cordobas. In San Juan del Sur the buses stop two blocks from the beach and it is easy to walk to most hotels from there.
I found Rolando and his taxi waiting outside a hotel about a block from the one in which I was staying. Because he was well groomed and seemed eager to please I decided to ask him to take me for a personal tour of Managua. First I wrote out a list of places I especially wanted to see, from my Lonely Planet guidebook. I presented this to Rolando and he gave me a reasonable price to take me to the sights and be my personal guide - although he knew no English and my Spanish is rather limited. Rolando was very proud to be an independent businessman who owned his own taxi, which is a significant accomplishment for a young man in Nicaragua.
It turned out to be a great deal for both of us. We spent a half day seeing the major sites of Managua, including a couple that I did not know to ask about. I was so pleased with Rolando's service that I gave him a generous tip, which meant both of us were happy.
Bus transportation is easy, efficient and inexpensive in Central America. I traveled from Guatamala City to Managua via Tica Bus, one of a handful of first class bus lines which connect the Central American countries.
The trip was in two legs. On the first day we left in the early afternoon for a four hour ride to San Salvador, El Salvador, where the bus and all the passengers stopped for the night. The next day was much longer, 12 hours, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and included two border crossings as we traveled through El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The bus stopped to clear immigration and customs at both borders - which was no real hassle. We made only one other 20 minute stop, for gas and food in Honduras. The bus was modern, comfortable, air conditioned and restroom equipped. They also showed about three movies along the way, but I preferred to keep my nose glued to the window and view the passing countryside. I also met several interesting people on the bus - local folks, businessmen and backpackers from various parts of the world. It was a very pleasant and memorable travel experience. the total cost, round trip, was only $90US, which is hundreds of dollars less than an airline ticket from Guatemala City to Managua.
The Tica Bus station in Managua was heavily guarded. In the last photo you will see the high gate which was opened just long enough to allow our bus to enter, and then shut and locked behind us. Armed guards were on duty around the clock.
I have rented a car several times when visiting Managua and have never, that's right never had a problem. It allows you the freedom to drive up to Granada one day then Leon, the beaches etc. I have found the police to be helpful and people will go out of their way if you get lost. Everywhere you go has "secured" parking which is usually a guy watching the lot and again never any problems there either. I have heard the horror stories about drving in Nicaragua but oddly in my half dozen trips there have yet to actually meet anyone that had a problem while renting. I do advise that you make sure your spare tire is good as it is not unusual to get a flat thouhg finding a place that can repair the tire is usually quite easy.
Don't even think about renting a car unless your a local and you know where you are going...if anything arrange a driver from the hotel and have him drive you around, not many tourist venture in the city..... most tourist come and go straight to the beach.
Flights to/from Managua are available with AA, Continental, COPA, Liberia and TACA. The departure tax is US$25.
But mostly you DO NOT have other choices!