5 Tips for Traveling to El Tunco, El Salvador

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Many times, when international travelers set out to explore Central America, they start with Costa Rica and Belize. Perhaps they check out the Tikal ruins in Guatemala and the beaches of Roatan, Honduras and Bocas del Toro, Panama. The adventurous wanderer might continue on to Nicaragua’s colonial city, Granada, or island beauty, Ometepe. Us, too! But many travelers overlook El Salvador. That’s precisely why we went and WOW!

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We ❤️ Roatan, Honduras! Here’s Why

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We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Roatan. The island is so beautiful, and the people were so kind. We tried out scuba diving for the first time and swam and snorkeled every day in the most outstanding waters. What a beautiful way to spend LiAnn’s 40th birthday!

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Belize! Touristy but Amazing

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We travel a lot. I know, right, you’ve met us. Anyway, I wanted hubby’s birthday to be extra special—so I let him pick where we went for once 😝 I have to admit the Belizean islands that we visited were very touristy, but sometimes that’s a welcome change and we definitely had a wonderful time. San Pedro was fun. Caye Caulker was laid back and lovely for bike riding, swimming and lounging at the Lazy Lizard. The snorkeling at Hol Chan in between the two islands was incredible, too! We swam with a sea turtle, a moray eel and nurse sharks.

What really made the trip special, though, was our visit to the jungle.

We stayed outside of San Ignacio at Table Rock Jungle Lodge in a villa near the Macal River. We had so much fun hiking by the river, watching the wildlife from our balcony and chatting with the staff about life in Belize.

The most adventurous part of our trip was taking a day to trek into Guatemala to see the Tikal ruins. It was a long day but worth every minute! Personally, I found the Tikal ruins and the jungle setting even more fascinating than Chichen Itza. We rode through Guatemala on Carnival, too, so we got to see a few local parades along the way.

~ LiAnn

Got a friend? Got a grand? Go to Nicaragua! Here’s how

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The world is more accessible than some people think, and traveling through its great lands helps us to see that we are all one big tribe with the same hopes and fears.

The idea of world travel is exciting–it can be scary and costly too. BUT it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve been enjoying our travels through Central and South America over the last few years and have found the places we visit to be friendly, beautiful and unique.

We’ve also felt very safe everywhere we’ve been, from Bogotá to Managua. We say that while also cautioning that every place in the world has crime and tourist traps and scams to look out for.

We do to feel safer pre-booking transportation from the airport and have the hotel call taxis for us. This can be a bit more expensive, but it makes us feel comfortable as we’re getting to know a place.

We’ve used uber all over Colombia and Panama and wish it was available in even more places.

What we also love about Central America is that it’s close to the U.S. and affordable.

Here’s how you can do Nicaragua for about $1,000 – and we promise there are no chicken buses or hostels involved!!! Although, that can be a great way to travel too!

——–Airfare————————–

Flight from Washington, D.C.: $400

——–Accommodations—————

Hotels for 7 nights (per person based on double occupancy): $230.

You can easily find great rooms in San Juan del Sur (SJDS), Granada and Ometepe for $55 plus tax and fees, so let’s say $65 per night–which is exactly what we paid. So that’s $32.5 per person per night or $230 for a week.

——–Transportation——————

Transport: $138. Note that this can be done for a lot less. We took prescheduled shuttles with private companies everywhere and we traveled to three different locations (SJDS, Ometepe Island and Granada).

We used Iskra Travel and Adelante Express for our transportation. Both were excellent.

From Managua airport (we bypassed Managua itself), we took a 2.5 hour private shuttle ride down to SJDS for $40 pp.

We took a shared shuttle from SJDS to the port at San Jorge ($15 pp) to catch the ferry to Ometepe ($3 pp round trip) and then had the finca arrange a four wheel drive taxi to take us the 1.25 hour trek across the (sometimes unpaved) island ($30 pp round trip).

Our shuttle from San Jorge to Granada was $25 pp and from Granada back to the airport was $25 pp. It could’ve been cheaper, but we liked the security of prescheduling and the shuttle companies didn’t offer shared shuttles for the times we needed.

——–Food and Drink—————–

San Juan del Sur

OK – that’s $768 so far, which only leaves $30 per day for food. That’s a tight budget but it’s totally realistic. A giant and delicious Nica breakfast was included everywhere we stayed: Gallo pinto, huevos rancheros, fresh papaya, watermelon and banana, fresh squeeze juice, and toast.

When you’re hungry again, you can pick up a $5 sandwich or afternoon snack, $1 beers and 2-for-one cocktails at happy hour (which sometimes runs from 2 pm to 7 pm) and your all set. $15 is plenty for a good dinner–or you can get a decent $10 dinner and have a few more cervezas 🙂

You can tour around by renting a bicycle for $1/hour or $6/day.

Adding $125 to your budget would be plenty to do some really fun activities like kayaking ($25), horseback riding ($25) and volcano viewing ($20), with an ample amount left over to tip your guides, drivers and housekeepers.

There you go! Think about everything you waste money on. Stash a $20 bill every week for the next year and you’ll have enough saved for your adventure to Nicaragua!

It was a wonderful trip and one of the absolute best for meeting great people from Nicaragua and from around the world.

February 19, 2017

Our stay at the finca. Ometepe, Nicaragua

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When we arrived at Finca Montania Sagrada, we were greeted by about 5 lovely little chihuahuas, two bigger dogs and a few cats.

We were hungry after the somewhat long journey from San Juan del Sur, so after we checked in, we headed down the hill to get some lunch.

We stopped at Margarita’s restaurant, which consisted of four picnic benches under an awning beside a large window to order through.

When we asked what was on the menu, we were told, “pollo.” So, naturally, we ordered the pollo 🙂

Aside from having to fight off a little chicken who–feeling a bit cannibalistic–was taking pecks at my plate, the meal was delicious. Pollo y gallo pinto con cerveza toña. ¡Perfecto!

When we got back to the finca we made new friends and drank rum and danced in celebration of Valentine’s Day. It was a wonderful first day on Ometepe.

The next morning was another beautiful day. We had breakfast at the finca before taking a two hour horseback ride through rocky paths in the woods that opened up to breathtaking views of the lake and the two volcanoes that make up the island.

A few of the bigger dogs came along for the journey!

We returned to lunch and a siesta followed by a lazy evening and a good night’s sleep.

The next day we kayaked through a river that looks much like the Everglades. Then we ran into some friends and had some drinks by the water.

Although many people opt to do the 8-10 hour hike up one of the volcanoes, we decided we already had a nice balance between activities and relaxation. It was an absolutely beautiful stay.

February 17, 2017
Isla de Ometepe
Nicaragua

Ometepe the Beautiful. Getting There.

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Our stay at the finca (farm) on Isla de Ometepe has been an absolutely phenomenal experience. The nearly 3-hour car-boat-4×4 trek was well worth it.

On Tuesday we had a driver take us from San Juan del Sur to the ferry in San Jorge (about a 30 minute drive).

From there we hopped on a boat (which was a little confusing to figure out, but someone who worked on the boat helped us and we just paid 35 Córdoba each after we got on). It took about an hour to get to Moyogalpa–the main town on Ometepe where the ferry docks.

We were really glad we had the finca arrange for a 4×4 taxi to pick us up at the dock because the scenic 1.25 hour drive was beautiful and went by so fast in the open air jeep. Plus, the unpaved portion of the drive would have been really uncomfortable in a regular car!

We are now in a remote and quite bungalow surrounded by beautiful scenic views of volcanoes and beaches. It is simply amazing!

It is completely up to us if we want to hike volcanoes, ride horses or bicycles, kayak, or just relax and soak in the beauty. The island has all this and more to offer.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, February 15, 2017