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Nicaragua: parts of the country remain unexplored

The seven countries of Central America, all enjoying both Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea coastlines, with the exception of El Salvador, have done much to dispel any trace of a ‘banana republic’ image. Tall volcanoes, amazing biodiversity, ancient ruins, jungle walks and surfing from glorious beaches are proving to be quite a draw for those in search of adventure. And you can base yourself in one of the beautiful Spanish-colonial towns. Two sites in Nicaragua have been cited by Lonely Planet in their list of top ten spots in Central America.

Firstly the Isla de Ometepe, lauded by Mark Twain in his book ‘Travels with Mr Brown’, with its magnificent twin volcanic peaks, rising up out of Lago de Nicaragua. The island remains unspoilt, and little explored with its fertile volcanic soil, clean waters, wonderful beaches, tropical wildlife population and archaeological sites causing it to be included in the 2006 shortlist for the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Secondly the Nicaraguan town of León, whose charm has much to do with the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches it contains, and the fact that it is the intellectual centre of the nation, with a university founded in 1813. The town is 90 km northwest of Managua, and around 18 km east of the Pacific Ocean coast. There are cosmopolitan eateries and buzzing nightlife too.

You can fly to Managua from London Heathrow via New York or Houston.

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