The only way to get around Nicaragua is by chickenbus. The name comes from the fact that everything, including chicken and other alive creatures, are put on the roof. It's a cheap but not really comfortable way of travelling. The chickenbusses are originally american schoolbusses (made for children... get the idea of 'not really comfortable'?)
But you join the locals which is ofcourse a great experience. The busstations are fairly good organized. Can't find your bus? Just ask some of the boys yelling really loud. They yell in a funny way the name of the destination of the bus!
Well... not only were we being pulled over but we also had a flat tire, in the middle of nowhere! After showing the police our passports, I quickly pulled out my camera to snap a couple of "ice breaking" photos and my trusty bag of melted candies followed in hopes of softening any potential police fiasco. Meanwhile, our cab driver pulled out the "flat" spare.
When something like this happens, it's all about rolling out (or concocting) a contingency plan. Unfortunately, it was a little late and given our resources, or lack thereof (no traffic or taxis), we quickly dismissed any possibility of dreaming up any clever 1st world McGiver plan.
While our taxi driver stared blankly at our "flat" spare a local Nica approached our driver and began discussing the situation. Before we knew it, both of them disappeared down a small dirt road and into a dilapidated tin-roofed shack. We wondered how they could possibly repair a flat, bald tire in the middle of nowhere? I couldn’t imagine they could do much without electricity, (perceivably) no tools or an air compressor???
Things were not looking so promising.
Operating on 3 hours sleep, this was certainly not a welcomed edition to our last day in Nicaragua, but what can you do? The police however seemed rather amused with our dilema and it was nice to know we brought happiness to someone :-)
30-40 minutes later we were very surprised that our driver, and new found friend, had returned from the dilapidated shack down the dirt road with a fully filled, albeit bald, tire. After a few minutes and with a quick thank you and handshake (between our driver and the local), we were back on the road. We arrived at the airport in Managua with 20 minutes to spare.
This experience encompassed the magic, generosity, spirit and ingenuity of Nicaragua and its people.
After flying from Los Angeles, California in the US to San Jose, Costa Rica on America West Airlines you can purchase a ticket from Tica Bus. Tica Bus runs all throughout Central America, from capital to capital & large cities in between.
We traveled from San Jose to Granada,Nicaragua (you can take the bus that heads to Managua if you'd like to get off at Granada).
The Tica bus agent in Granada is:
Contact: Isora Blandón
Address: Next to San Juan de Dios hospital ½ block south.
The Tica bus agent in Rivas is:
Contact: Norma Avilés
Address: Next to Texaco gas station, Panamerican supermarket.
The Tica bus terminal in San Jose, Costa Rica is at:
San José. Costa Rica. North corner of La Soledad church Street 9 y 11, Ave.4
San Jose, Costa Rica
Telephone: (506) 22-8954
Telephone: (506) 255-4771
MANAGUA NICARAGUA (express from San José) - DEP. daily from terminal Tica Bus at 6:00, 7:30; RET. 6:00, 7:00; 450 km; 11 hrs Tica Bus CoTel. 221-8954
Two San José-based bus companies, Tico Bus and Transnica, offer daily, direct routes to Granada from San Jose. The trip costs about 3,000 colons about $8. It’s a long bus-ride, some eight to 10 hours.
The cost to enter Nicaragua is $11, and the return into Costa Rica is $4 for U.S. citizens.
i did my travel to granada by using local chicken bus. it took me an hour to get there, but a backpacker told me at the hotel that he did it by taxi, including a stop by city of masaya for about 25 dollars.
taxis inside the city of granada just 1 dollar and less!!!
is air conditioned and is called Transnica S.A. Tel. (0)552-6619 Granada.
Salida Granada - San Josè 6:20 am 8:00 am 11:00 am
Ticket price: two way $20 - one way $10
Tica Bus Tel.(0)552-4301 Granada.
Salida Granada - San Josè 6:15 am 12:15 pm Ticket price: two way $ 20 - C$ 280 - one way $ 10 - C$ 140
Salida Managua -Panama 6:15 am Ticket price: two way $ 70 - one way $ 35
Salida Managua - San Pedro Sula (Honduras) 4:00 am Ticket price: $ 28
Salida Managua - San Salvador 4:00 am Ticket price: $25
Salida Managua - Guatemala 4:00 am Ticket price: $ 33
Moving around Nicaragua? Well, I'd say BUSES. Period. Ok, maybe renting a car, if you have the money. The rental itself is not that expensive, but then there is the issue of insurance. So, when the time came to decided, car was out of the question. Though, I have to say, would be a very comfortable and practical solution.
Anyways, I can say a thing or two about the buses.
Before going to Nicaragua, I did some research here on Virtual Tourist (of course) and I ran into the suggestion of checking out ViaNica’s website. While that website is not bad, I have to say one thing: don’t take it literally. The schedules of the buses, in particular.
See, when you come from a Balkan country, like I do, you learn not to confide too much in schedules, “horarios”, working hours, etc. I’m not saying this as a negative thing, not at all. On the contrary, one learns to be more flexible, and also, more efficient at finding solutions to unexpected situations. So anyways, ViaNica’s website says something like... from 4 am to 7 pm, every 20 minutes, it doesn’t mean that between those hours there are buses literally every 20 minutes.
Don’t despair however, because buses are VERY frequent. DO have in mind that as soon as the sun sets... all activities stop. Bus rides included. So... if you see a schedule saying that at 7 pm there is a bus... Well, NO, MOST probably there is none.
The so-called bus terminals are actually part of Markets. So they tend to be big, loud, dirty, chaotic and very fun to watch, unless you feel completely lost. I'd say these are the only places where I have kept a close eye on... my belongings and everything. On the other hand, great food can be found close to the buses, since, like I said, the terminals are part of markets and... you don't have to travel hungry. :-)
In Managua there are several bus terminals (stations) depending on the direction of the bus route. If it goes to Somoto, or to the north, they you need to go to Mayoreo. Huembes, on the other hand, is the station where buses heading south leave. For places like Rivas, for example.
The picture accompanying this tip is taken at HUEMBES, in Managua. Oh my... the craziest place I have seen in Nicaragua. In case you are wondering, the woman is carrying a basket full of coco sweets.
There is a difference between “expreso” and “ruteado” buses. And yes, in deed, there is a difference. The expreso buses normally stop only at larger stations, or some “points on the road” that are known to people, and thus many people get on or off there. Unlike the “ruteado” bus that stops at EVERY SINGLE corner where a potential passenger can be found. I have been only on one ruteado, on the WORST road: San Isidro – Leon, and even though I made it fun, I wouldn’t like to repeat those three hours. What I’m saying is... stick to expreso buses.
On the photos... you can see me in the Ruteado bus from San Isidro to Leon. Ok, some extra info that maybe you can find useful. We took an expreso bus from Somoto to Managua. HOWEVER, we asked the driver to leave us in San Isidro, so that we can take a bus from there to Leon. Now... the bus left us on the road, some 4-5 kilometers from San Isidro, or past San Isidro, at a point where the road separates and to the west it leads to Leon. One of the photos is actually taken at that "crossroad" while we were waiting for the bus to Leon. That one was in a particularly bad shape, though we made it... The other buses we took on our trip far better than that one. In any case you have to settle for a... relatively dirty buses.
Taxis are cheap in Nicaragua. In Managua it's pretty much 1-2 dollars anywhere within city limits and 5-8 to the airport. In the country, it's typically less. Be sure to bargain for a fair (non-gringo) price but remember that everyone has to make a living!
On the way from San Juan to Managua we decided to buck up 30.00 for the 1+ hour taxi ride back to Managua so that we could spend as much time as possible in San Juan del Sur. After all, we only had 10 days in total. We thought leaving two hours of travel time from San Juan to the airport in Managua would be more than enough time for any 'unforseen logistical problems'. Much to our chagrin, this became a near impossibility.
En route, we were gestured to pull the taxi over by the police. Let the fun begin!
Information provided by Nicatour.net
The most common type of transportation in and around Granada is the collective taxi.
The fare is 5 cordobas per person within town during the day ( 6 am to 10 pm): after
10 pm the fare is 10 cordobas. Fares double when traveling to the suburbs.
Also, you can take a horse and carriage for the same price as taxis.
Several months ago, a bus service started that uses small, old buses that can carry about 20 people. This service has a fixed route within city and costs 2 1/2 cordobas.
A different way to enjoy Granada is with a colorfully painted bus, that for 5 cordobas, offers a city tour accompanied by latin music emanating from large speakers in the rear of the bus. There is also a colorfully painted tractor that pulls carriages where you can sit and take in the
scenery while listening to typical latin music.
When travelling outside Granada, you must use the local bus system.
24-passenger direct bus. This bus station is one block south of Central Park. The bus leaves Granada every 20 minutes starting at 6 or 6:30 AM.
Granada - Managua C$ 15
50-passenger and is usually yellow.
Prices: Granada - Masaya C$ 7 The bus station is near the market
Granada - Managua C$ 10 The bus station near ìthe old hospital
Granada - Rivas C$ 15 The bus station near the gas station Shell Palmira
Between Managua and some major destinations, like Leon, there are so called micro-buses. Or “intermortales”, supposedly because of the suicidal behaviour of their drivers. Can’t say that they are that extreme, but that little thing (twelve passengers only) GOES FAST. We got in 75 minutes from Leon to Managua. These microbuses leave as soon as they get full. Which happens in ... maybe ten, fifteen minutes. If I remember correctly there are micro-buses covering routes such as: Managua-Leon, Managua-Masaya, Managua-Granada.
The little town of San Jorge is the main departure point of the ferries and the boats that take you from the mainland to Ometepe island, arriving at Moyogalpa. There is also an option to take a boat from Granada to Altagracia, but it takes much more time and it is not a frequently used option.
the time-table I have (from summer 2007) for the boats doing the route: San Jorge - Moyogalpa is:
S. Jorge - Moyogalpa
10:30 am (ferry)
2:30 pm (ferry)
Moyogalpa - S. Jorge
6:00 am (ferry)
9:00 am (ferry)
4:30 pm (ferry)
Not sure how precise this info is... but at least it gives you an idea...
Oh, the phenomenon called taxi is... something special in Nicaragua.
In Managua they are a necessity, but more on that on the Managua pages...
Apart from their use within an urbanized area, it is possible to go by taxi from one town to another, if they are not too far.
Examples... In an attempt to get as fast as possible to Somoto, there was an expreso bus leaving from Managua to Ocotal. Now... since the road passes close to Somoto, at the point where the roads divide, there are always taxis waiting. And the taxi took us two and one more passenger to Somoto for... 20 cordobas.
Another example... taxi from San Juan del Sur to ANY of the nearby beaches (popular surfers' destinations)...
Or, from San Jorge to Rivas...
The prices always vary... It is cheaper in the northern region, since there are much more tourists in San Juan del Sur.
Also... the taxis in Managua always charge much more... And if they see an obvious "extranjero" face, they'll add 10, 20 cordobas more.
very old buses are the main atracction on the capital road.
be sure you are in good condition to hold strongly, you will be traveling standing for sure.
prices are about US$0.15 or US$0.25 max
Take taxis for about C15, or 1USD to almost everywhere around managua.
Nicaraguan bus service comes in basically three varieties. At the local level, the old fashioned school bus, or "chicken bus", dominates, and provides very cheap and relatively safe way to get around. These may take awhile to get filled up before departing, but be patient. People watching at the grimy bus station is part of the fun. Fares are so low that I don't even recall them. Next level up are the excursionary vans. These are best for transport between major cities. From Granada, take the bus to Managua, then catch a bus onward to Leon, for example. You can bring your backpacks onboard if you want to save a little money, but again the prices are equal to about $1 per hour of travel--a real bargain. We use durable luggage with wheels, so we don't hesitate to allow our bags to be tossed on the rooftop if necessary. The conductors are good at watching the bag, but it is wise to observe enough to make sure your bag isn't left behind. There is also a long distance bus between San Carlos and Managua that takes around 6 hours. This bus uses the newly paved highway on the east side of the lake. These are aging but still comfortable buses, but unfortunately what could be a four hour trip is delayed by a multiple of impromptu stops along the way. Store your luggage for free below in the cargo hold and relax. Headrests on the Managua bound bus were clean linen and seats were not dirty. The scenery is very pleasant along this route. For all these buses, the best plan is to scout out the station the day before your trip to make certain which bus to take. We never found any difficulty catching a bus at the last minute though. If a bus goes by carrying the name of the place want to go, flag it down and get on. Pay the conductor for the ticket.
Granada Isletas, Granada, n/a, Nicaragua
Good for: Couples
Esquina de los Bancos 1C al Este, Leon, 00000, Nicaragua
Good for: Business
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