Nicaragua – this country has been on the radar for several years now. Having traveled through much of Central America, we felt fairly confident as we planned and had an idea of what to expect of the culture and people. I (Seth) speak Spanish, so traveling is a little easier than not speaking the language. Being photographers, I spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking and rethinking our photographic arsenal of gear. Which lens, which camera bodies, etc.. We like to keep it somewhat simple, especially now thanks to the Fuji X100S. So here’s what I finally settled on:
- Canon 5D3 w/ 50L f1.2, 24-70L f2.8
- Fuji X100S
- Battery chargers
- No laptops / iPad (this was a vacation, so no work gear!)
Left behind was the beloved 45TS 2.8, 15mm fisheye, 70-200L 2.8 as well as so much more. The only regret I had was leaving the 70-200 behind, but since that is such a beast to carry around, its not that much of a regret. Embarking on this trip, we had 3 primary goals: relax, have an adventure, and have fun with photography. The Fuji – great for taking around town, walking around discretely, and not drawing a ton of attention to ourselves. So glad we have that camera – we were able to take photos in situations we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise (either due to circumstances, or just being lazy and not wanting to lug around a big SLR). The 5D3 – although the Fuji is convenient, the 5D3 gives me the feeling of total control.
In prepping for the trip, TripAdvisor was a huge help. We had heard about the sketchy police stops, the occasional petty thefts, robberies … blah blah, but with any travel whether domestic or abroad, that is always an issue. Nomadic Matt helped us get a basic route planned. For the reason of security, we carried no laptop nor other devices (other than our phones) and spread our our cash and carried 1 credit card. (If you go, be sure to pack an extra driver’s license or 2 or 3. It may come in handy at those inconvenient traffic stops.) We wanted to be light as we traveled, and free of the hassle of a ton of gear.
If we could do the trip all over, we’d definitely chose a better route for the latter half of the trip, so take note of our good and bad moves.
We landed in Managua, rented a car (traveling by car is no problem) and drove to Grenada. Grenada is a great city on the shores of Lago Nicaragua. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon (flight landed around noon), we grabbed a car at the airport and headed to Grenada knowing of a few hotels/hostels, but still not having any reservations. We tend to travel like this – no reservations, but we have a plan of a few places that have availability. This lack of planning has paid off time and time again – ever arrived to a place, only to realize its crappiness was masked by the reviews and creative photo angles? Yeah – us too. So, we don’t (usually) lock ourselves into a reservation unless we are 100% sure.
Hands down, when in Grenada stay at Hotel con Corazon.
Hotel con Corazon
Although we weren’t able to spend a whole lot of time here, walk around, check out the central market and have some licuados (smoothies) from the puesto – Batido’s – on the east side of the plaza. Masaya is a super safe, easy small town to walk around. Dilapidated stucco walls, lions, and great food – gotta love Masaya. (and check out the volcano…)
the circus was in town
3. Little Corn Island
We read about the Corn Islands and new we had to go. Although it is terribly inconvenient to get here, as well as slightly sketchy, its worth the trek. Little Corn has limited accommodations, so plan ahead. The 9 passenger La Costena flight to get to Big Corn might unnerve some travelers, but that was the least scary part of the trip. The real challenge was the boat (dingy) ride across the open sea from Big Corn to Little Corn in rough waters. We planned our trip around the 2 nights we were lucky to reserve at Little Corn Beach and Bungalow (lucky since we booked just 1 week ahead of time). Their cabanas are 30 steps from the water, tucked away in the palm trees. While we were in Little Corn, the pangas (the dingys) were shut down for 2 days straight due to high seas and wind, keeping everyone stuck on the island. High wind was bad for most people, but allowed for some great kiteboarding with Nachos’ kite rental/school.