Backpacker Diaries: How to fall in ❤ with Central America.

Backpacker Diaries is a series in which we ask fellow travellers about their experiences in Latin America. On this ocassion Anna, a Finnish adventurer from Helsinki recalls how she decided to visit Central America and how she fall in ❤ with its vibe.

Anna watching the sunset in San Juan del Sur

What inspire you to visit the region?

I visited Cuba in April this year and ever since I’ve been interested in visiting other Latin American countries. My first thought was to visit Costa Rica (which I also did on my travels), but after speaking to friends I heard that it was quite touristy and expensive. One of my friends told me she had been wanting to visit Nicaragua as she had heard positive things about the country. Based on her recommendation, I made my decision.

What challenges did you face when visiting the region?

The main challenge for me was to speak Spanish. I have studied Spanish years ago so it’s safe to say that it was quite rusty when I arrived to Nicaragua. However, after spending 7 weeks in Central America, my Spanish has improved a lot and I’m definitely looking forward to learning more. I would encourage anyone travelling to Nicaragua to at least learn the basic phrases in Spanish.

Do you think tourism is different on this side of the world?

The tourism in Nicaragua is mainly directed to backpackers rather than package tourists. I think this is different to e.g. Southeast Asia, where you have both backpackers but also quite a lot of package tourists. However, in San Juan del Sur, I saw a huge cruise ship in the harbor and lots of passengers from the ship coming into town. If this type of tourism does increase in Nicaragua, the demand of services will be greater which will have an impact on what direction the tourism will take.

What where your favorite experiences?

My absolute favorite experience was completing my scuba diving open water course in Little Corn Island. I have been wanting to do this for several years, and was so happy to finally get to do it inexpensively. Nicaragua has so much to offer; I hiked up to a 40 m waterfall on a volcano in Ometepe, slid down an active volcano in Leon, admired the beautiful colonial architecture in Granada, saw sharks during a night dive in Little Corn island, attended Sunday Funday three times, which was one of the coolest parties I’ve ever been to… the list goes on! The country is extremely diverse which means that the opportunities are endless.

Which place surprised you the most?

When arriving in Nicaragua I didn’t have any expectations as I didn’t know a lot about the country. I think the perception of Central America in Europe, is that it’s dangerous, especially for female travelers. I rarely felt unsafe and I think that it’s just as dangerous as any other place in the world. Obviously you have to have common sense when travelling in Central America, but I don’t think it is as dangerous as people think it is.

The place that surprised me the most was Little Corn Island. It’s a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, where cars are prohibited. The island is so remote that it really feels like you are in a different world. I can highly recommend this place and would love to go back there one day.

What do you think could be better?

This is quite a hard question, as I find that the ‘flaws’ in a country are what makes it interesting. I hope that tourism in Nicaragua won’t change the country. People are very friendly and the food is absolutely delicious. There is nothing that could be better in my opinion!

Would you recommend others to do the same trip?

Travelling to Nicaragua and Central America was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I will 100% be back soon and can highly recommend to do the same trip!

Views of Volcan Conception on Ometepe, Nicaragua.
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