If your coronary heart charge quickens on the considered pushing your self bodily and mentally, this difficult two-week biking journey by Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama is likely to be for you. The biking is reasonably powerful at occasions, largely as a result of day by day distances in the saddle, hilly and generally, uneven off the overwhelmed path, terrain, however if you push by the recent and humid climate and the sore legs, you’ll expertise lovely lush inexperienced rainforests, rise up shut and private with energetic volcanoes, go out of your biking seat to submerge your self in an ocean inside a matter of minutes, bathe in restorative thermal spring waters, see uncommon and distinctive wildlife, all topped off with an unbelievable sense of feat.
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In simply over two weeks, you’ll journey across three Central American nations, the Volcano wealthy Nicaragua, tropically vibrant Costa Rica, and the engineeringly magnificent Panama. If you need an energetic trip and to see Central America away from simply the standard vacationer spots, this is the proper journey for you. This is a biking journey complemented by lovely nature and wealthy experiences, not the opposite approach round, so anticipate numerous time in the biking saddle.
The journey is organized by Exodus (the exercise and journey vacation firm) and every day begins with breakfast, the day by day briefing huddled round a map, biking with loads of stops for snacks, meals, and photograph alternatives, but additionally allocates a time without work in addition to sufficient time on the finish of every day to loosen up and recoup and get to know the opposite individuals in your group. Group measurement tends to be round 10-16 individuals and they’re usually from all walks of life and locations in the world, this in itself, provides to the distinctiveness of this journey and you’ll be shocked at how shortly you compromise into a comfy household dynamic. It’s additionally value noting that you simply’re more likely to have some eager and skilled cyclists who take to the times job with ease and generally pace, however don’t be postpone in the event you’re a passion or newbie bicycle owner (as I’m) and even in the event you’re only a bit rusty, they’ve a help car with you always, which suggests you’ll be able to select to drive sections do you have to wish to take a break or simply benefit from the surroundings from a car.
Nicaragua has a multi-ethnic inhabitants representing individuals from indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage; nonetheless, the primary language is Spanish because the area was occupied by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, with Nicaragua solely gaining independence from Spain in 1821. Nicaragua is wealthy in biodiversity, but it surely’s usually the area’s volcanoes that act because the focal vacationer attraction.
The journey begins in the gorgeous metropolis of Granada, which is round 1-1.5hrs from Nicaragua’s Managua airport. Granada is located on the shores of the huge freshwater Lake Nicaragua and was based in 1524. It is Nicaragua’s sixth most populous metropolis and has a robust colonial historical past, which will be seen in its tradition and structure, such because the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (constructed in 1525), however you’ll see loads of examples in the tropically painted buildings throughout this metropolis.
We had been based mostly at The Hotel Patio del Malinche, which presents comfy rooms and is often styled round a central courtyard. Day one pivots round settling in and adjusting to the native time zone and local weather, nonetheless, the resort is effectively positioned, do you have to wish to have a wander across the metropolis or cease off for a night tona (beer).
Masaya Volcano and Lake Nicaragua
Day two begins with a morning briefing for the day’s 20km bike journey, adopted by bike arrange and on for a brief take a look at journey across the metropolis to the shore of Lake Nicaragua, which is the tenth largest lake in the world. The biking route permits views of the forest-covered extinct Mombacho volcano. Mombacho features a cloud forest which is a moist and tropical forest house to many types of mosses and a dwarf forest of miniature timber. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see these forests in individual as there’s a lot to expertise in Nicaragua, however that’s a purpose to return.
The journey as an alternative takes a brief switch automotive journey over to Masaya Volcano National Park, the place for simply $4 entry you’ll be able to peer over the crater of Masaya Volcano. The park itself is 54km2 and consists of two volcanoes. Masaya frequently degasses so that you’ll discover the unmissable scent of sulfur, which suggests your go to will probably be restricted to round 10-20mins. Back to Granada to go to the long-established Villas Mombacho restaurant for the contemporary lake fish and extra volcano views, however ensure you have loads of time as service can take some time. Perhaps organize a brief boat journey on Lake Nicaragua from the restaurant while you wait on your meals?
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
It’s a step up in the biking to cowl nearly 40k right now, as from Granada it’s a cycle round Lake Nicaragua to the port of San Jorge to take an hour-long ferry switch over to the determine of eight formed, Ometepe Island. Ometepe island is fashioned by two volcanoes (Concepción and Maderas) rising out of Lake Nicaragua. Whilst Ometepe is understood for its volcanoes it’s additionally house to wealthy rainforests, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and plantain crops, so the cycle to the eco-reserve and non-public lakeside seashores of Hotel Charco Verde presents a lot to see.
San Juan del sur, Nicaragua
Onto the ferry once more to return to mainland Nicaragua to proceed our biking journey south to the favored city of San Juan Del Sur. Located on the Pacific coast, San Juan Del Sur is a colourful surf city usually visited by twenty-somethings searching for seaside events and additionally a spot to get hands-on with nature, as right here you’ll be able to, rent a catamaran, take a hike, surf, and journey horses.
Plenty of stops on this day’s cycle to San Juan Del Sur giving out presents to native colleges, chatting with locals, and usually absorbing the laid-back lifestyle as these stops are sometimes not on the vacationer trails, so that you’ll see rural dwelling at its greatest. You would possibly even hear howler monkeys as you cycle by the forest areas.
Upon arrival on the lodging, if partying the evening away isn’t for you, Hotel Selina Maderas with its cabanas is a brief stroll to look at the sundown at Playa Marsella or to see the wilder waters of the surf seaside Playa Maderas.
Into Costa Rica
It’s an early begin as you permit Nicaragua, as we wish to keep away from being in the saddle through the noon warmth, however you’ll have some nice views as you pedal out of Nicaragua to La Virgen the place we transferred to the border (have your paperwork, charges, water and a fan useful). As we all know immigration in to any nation can take 5 minutes or can take hours, relying on how busy they’re, however this is an out of doors queuing affair and it tended to maneuver comparatively shortly on our go to. Nevertheless, biking is more likely to be restricted this day, which to be sincere, was a respite from the 30-40km per day over the previous couple of days. We stayed on the resort Hacienda La Pacifica which is a working farm with its very personal wildlife rescue middle (Las Pumas).
Rafting on Tenorio River and Arenal
The Tenorio River is shut by and it’s famed for its big selection of birds, monkeys, and crocodiles all dwelling harmoniously across the water’s edges. We took a two-hour journey or float alongside the river to be taught all concerning the fauna and flora (see if you could find the fern vegetation that depart a white powder residue providing on the spot and momentary fern ‘tattoos’).
After lunch, it’s an extended cycle (55km) in the hilly area round Lake Arenal together with alongside the Pan American Highway. The begin of which features a climb, however then a downhill part. Then sadly (or fortunately in case you are a glutton for punishment), it’s again once more to powerful hilly climbs, however the tough biking is made all worthwhile if you see the eco, barely hippy, and lovely Mystica Resort. Costa Rica is understood for its eco and sustainability tourism and Mystica actually delivers on that, while additionally sustaining consolation and a contact of luxurious. Mystica is an oasis up on a hill overlooking forests and Arenal Lake and its Volcano, so look out for wild pineapples rising in the grounds and for the native toucans. Wood-fired pizzas and a good wine choice, Mystica is a should!
Cycle to La Fortuna
You get lovely lush views of Costa Rica as you cycle down and inland to La Fortuna and its dam which gives practically 12% of the nation’s whole electrical energy. However, La Fortuna is most famously identified for its lava flowing Volcanos, ensuing in sizzling thermal springs and waterfalls.
The cone-shaped Arenal volcano will be seen for miles because it’s over 5300 ft tall. Surprisingly, Arenal Volcano is taken into account younger because it’s estimated to be solely 7,500 years outdated. Another probability to see the native wildlife with monkeys, toucans, and colourful butterflies are throughout. Watch out for the leaf-cutting ants if you cease to take a drink or snack … they’re unusually addictive to look at.
There is a two-night keep at San Bosco with its pool and jacuzzi and it’s close by to a laundry do you have to want it. San Bosco is an efficient place to choose up native produce (coffees, spices, souvenirs) and has plenty of choices for dinner, so take a wander to see what you fancy. The second day loops round La Fortuna for extra volcano views and after two heavy going days, you’ll welcome a go to to the Eco Termales, one of many many sizzling springs in the realm. I like to recommend the Pina Coladas and the buffet dinner (below $25).
Cycling to Cahuita
Today we start our journey to the Caribbean coast to Cahuita, which is close to to the border of Panama, so be careful for the warmth, particularly as this day is over 80km of biking. Food choices on this stretch are restricted to anticipate a easy providing, however this is offset by one other day of nice open views. Lush plantations and an array of wildlife encompass you and lastly, you get to take a dip in the Caribbean close to the Hotel Atlantida. I hadn’t prepped sufficient previous to the journey and so I spent numerous time wanting down pushing by the cycle, so in the event you can, earlier than you journey get used to day by day cycles and lengthy distances, in an effort to cycle with ease and get pleasure from what’s round you!
Entering Panama and over to Bocas Del Toro
Another spotlight of this journey is the border crossing at Sixaola from Costa Rica into Panama. This derelict bridge that may’t be cycled over (too many holes) is one thing out of an Indiana Jones film. There is a more moderen bridge which is the primary route over to Panama, however, in the event you can, channel your inside Indy and stroll over the outdated bridge.
Upon arrival to Panama, we headed straight to the dock to go to Bocas Del Toro (30 min boat journey) for a while off. During the boat switch be careful for dolphins and girls dressed in lengthy flowing embroidered attire who’re a part of the Guaymi tribe.
Bocas Del Toro (that means Bull’s river mouth) is an space on the mainland and 9 surrounding islands. Christopher Columbus explored the realm in 1502 and initially named it Isla del Drago. Today, Bocas Del Toro is a well-liked vacation spot identified for its tradition, seashores, rainforests, and browsing so it’s an ideal place to loosen up.
The Gran Bahia Hotel (look out for the outsized unique protected in the reception space), is on the quieter finish of full of life Bocas Del Toro (learn bars and nightlife). For our first night we opted to take it straightforward and simply head out for night cocktails on the Om Cafe on the waterfront and dinner at El Refugio or alternatively at Buena Vista.
For the total time without work, we headed over to Red Frog Island the place you’ll be able to mix dolphin watching, snorkeling, and go to Red Frog seaside with its fairly rainforest resulting in white seashores. If that’s not for you, Bocas Water sports activities presents loads of alternate options.
Cycling to Santiago, by rural lowland Panama, and on to Panama City
Back to mainland Panama to journey by rainforest and jungle surroundings. This will probably be a mixture of cycle and switch as a result of distance to Panama City through Santiago, however my spotlight of the day was the quick and enjoyable downhill part after the climb as much as the Lago Fortuna reservoir. What can I say? who doesn’t prefer to really feel the pace and wind speeding by your hair! During this day you would possibly discover a change in warmth and humidity as a result of altitude modifications.
More biking(!) and it’s fairly a shock to hit Panama City coming from so many rural stays. In Panama City we stayed on the Allbrook Inn, which is located in the area which was a former US Air Force Base) and dine at Rinos which is an outdated favourite of Panama’s elite.
Panama Canal Lock Miraflores
The ultimate day is spent in marvel on the engineering brilliance of the Panama Canal Lock, Miraflores, constructed in 1914. Around 30 ships a day make this passing so that you’ll in all probability see a cruise lining going by the lock (together with the plenty of waving passengers). Once you’ve quizzed up on all the info it’s a cycle out to Gatun lake (a synthetic freshwater lake south of Colon) and the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for extra wildlife and lunch at Los Lagartos the place you’ll be able to watch the wildlife as you dine.
It’s then out of the saddle to spend the final afternoon wandering the historic and World Heritage Site Casco Viejo (Spanish for outdated quarter) and discover a rooftop spot just like the bar at Tantalo Terraza for excellent views of town and sundown cocktail to seal this fantastic journey. It was arduous work, however actually value each pedal.