Known as the ‘land of lakes and volcanoes’ there is an obvious draw to donning your helmet and embarking on a bicycle tour in Nicaragua. However, while volcanoes are this Central American’s country calling card, there is so much more to enjoy here including wonderful beaches, pristine forests, colonial architecture and a dazzling variety of wildlife. Less touristy than its neighbor Costa Rica, Nicaragua offers adventurous cyclists the exclusive trip of a lifetime.
Touchdown in Nicaragua and your first thought will quite naturally be, ‘volcanoes’ and there is certainly plenty to explore with 50 plus on offer and seven of these still active. The shores of Lake Nicaragua are a beautiful place to begin a first cycling trip as here you can lay your eyes upon the mesmerizing volcanic mass of Mombacho. Wild, green and picture-perfect, the views from the lake are spectacular, while many exotic birds can also be spotted here.
Lake Nicaragua is easily reachable by pedal power from the gorgeous and well-preserved colonial city of Granada. Boasting a beautifully restored cathedral and cute plazas, this elegant city is a perfect spot to rest weary legs and to chow down on some delicious mangoes, before heading out on a night trip to the spellbinding Masaya Volcano National Park. Here you can observe bubbling molten lava at this active volcano, plus spot a sub-species of parakeets that have adapted to the heat and made the craters here their home.
While heat and volcanoes dominate here, glistening lakes, lagoons and revitalizing freshwater springs such as Ojo de Agua offer up the best chance to cool off. The latter is aptly reachable after building up a sweat while pedaling around the western face of the active volcano Concepcion on Ometepe Island and tackling the gorgeous rainforest-clad Maderas volcano. It is also worth grabbing a kayak to explore the mangroves on this chilled-out island.
Any cycling trip in Nicaragua means wildlife is never far away. However, Charco Verde Lagoon offers spectacular sunsets, plus an incredible reserve with excellent cycling and hiking trails, and plenty of wildlife to get photos of. And animal lovers will continue to be delighted when riding further south to San Juan del Sur. Spinning your tires through verdant forest, you can catch the sounds of howler monkeys and spot giant iguanas before you wrap up a decent day of riding at the perfect sands of the Playa Marsella. Taking a dip here is bliss and a perfect spot to reflect on the surprising and wonderful natural beauty that Nicaragua consistently serves up.