From San Juan del Sur to Isla de Ometepe
Buses leave San Juan del Sur about every half an hour for Rivas. The bus ride takes 45 minutes and cost 15 cordobas (July 2009). At the bus station in Rivas I asked for a bus to San Jorge, from where the ferries leave for Isla de Ometepe, and was told that there are minibuses passing on the street. Before I had time to cross the street a taxi driver told me he could take me to the port for 40 cordobas.
I took the taxi from Rivas to San Jorge and as I went into the car a friend of the taxi driver also went into the car. As the taxi left the station two men shouted ”take care”. Soon after the friend of the taxi driver took out a big tool. Having read in the newspaper only the previous day about fake taxi drivers robbing their customers in another Nicaraguan city I felt that this might be very bad, so when the car turned in a direction I thought was wrong I said that this is not good. The taxi driver assured me it was the right way and soon after his friend left. Arriving at the port of San Jorge I told the taxi drivers what I had read about taxis in Nicaragua and he just laughed and said that this is not Managua.
From San Jorge to Isla de Ometepe there are several boats per day. The ferry (bigger boat) only leaves twice a day, but the lancha (smaller boat) leaves more often. At the port I paid the admission of 10 cordobas (July 2009) and then sat down in the waiting hall for a while. The lancha was a little late arriving from Isla de Ometepe so we didn’t depart on time. When it was time to board the boat everyone tried to get on at once so for some time it was a bit chaotic. But soon everyone had taken a seat and we left. The tickets were sold on board and it was 30 cordobas. The boat ride took one hour. It was a bit wavy but not rough.
The boat stops in Moyogalpa, a small town on the western side of Isla de Ometepe. Here I arranged for a hike to Volcán Concepión and went to the supermarket to buy water and snacks. Then I bought an ice cream at Eskimos and sat down at the pavement waiting for the next bus. While I was waiting a pickup from Hotel Finca Playa Venecia (where I was going) stopped and said I could go with them, they were only picking up a couple of tourists arriving with the next lancha, which were arriving soon.
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To San Juan del Sur from Managua airport
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.
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The highway is mostly in very good condition. It is a 2 laner and takes some time because there's everything from overloaded semis crawling along to donkey carts slowing things down. Just chill out, enjoy the ride. This is not the States and that's the whole damn point. The highway connecting from the Pan American to San Juan was recently redone and is in excellent condition.
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Getting to San Juan del Sur
Getting to San Juan del Sur always starts at the busstation in Rivas. Rivas is the most important transportation-hub in the south-west of Nicaragua and almost all busses in the area will stop here. The ferry towards Isla Ometepe stops here (so it is easy to combine the two) and from Granada there also is a direct bus towards Rivas.
From Granada is takes about one hour and one dollar to get to Rivas. Busses depart from the small busstation at the Mercado Municipal in central Granada. In Rivas they arrive at the central busstation. When you arrive from Isla Ometepe, you will need to charter a taxi from the harbour towards the busstation, which will cost you about 2 dollar and 15 minutes.
From Rivas to San Juan del Sur, the busses depart every 45 minutes and will cost you a little bit less then a dollar. The trip goes through the wild-west landscape of this part of the country and takes about 45 minutes.
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