¡Bienvenidos a Nicaragua! The plane has just landed at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport and your Latina adventure begins.
You will need to clear the passport control - an entry stamp will be put into your travel document. You will be informed you are allowed to stay in Nicaragua for 90 days. The customs officer is unlikely to be interested in your return ticket, but, just in case, you’d rather have it printed out.
In the aircraft or at the airport, you will be given a customs declaration which should be given to the customs officer when leaving the airport. Your luggage is likely to be checked, but don’t worry - it’s not illegal to carry humanitarian aid.
Unfortunately, customs officers in Nicaragua don’t like volunteers, so you’ll have to come up with a story, saying you are planning on travelling across the country for three months, visiting the most popular tourist places, such as Managua, Ometepe, Corn Islands, Granada and Leon.
When asked about donations, say you are terrified of getting sick with malaria or any other tropical disease and they are for personal use. Add you are thinking of giving some drugs and toys to your friends in Nicaragua. Take all items out of packages in advance; don’t give officers a reason to doubt your intentions.
Under no circumstances leave donations at the airport. If the officer is relentless, try bribing him/her - we will reimburse these expenses. They usually expect $50 per 25 kilos, but be prepared to be asked for more.
If you are Health&Help’s new medical volunteer or coordinator, our Spanish tutors will prepare you for such situations.
Here are some phrases which might come in handy when negotiating with the officer.
After you are done with the customs, you need to exchange dollars into cordobas in order to get to Health&Help clinic in Las Salvias and buy bare essentials. Please note that the exchange rate at the airport is not as good as at the bank.
It is normally 1$ = 30 NIO, but it’s rather volatile, so to be on the safe side - double check this information before travelling.
It makes sense to buy a SIM card at the airport. We recommend Claro which is working in all four CA-4 countries - Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador.
As the construction is at full speed now, we are not able to offer you a pick up.
There are three routes:
1. Augusto C. Sandino International Airport - Chinandega
You need to get to the Mercado Israel Lewites bus terminal by hailing a taxi or ordering an Uber. It takes around 60 minutes and 250 NIO to get there. Insist on 250 NIO as taxi drivers tend to overcharge white tourists. You will find a bus to Chinandega (bus fare - 90 NIO).
There is no WC in the bus; street food is offered, however, Health&Help does not recommend to eat it due to high risk of getting an infectious disease. The safe option would be to buy snacks in sealed packaging in advance.
The last bus to El Rosario (58 NIO) departs at 1:00 pm. You will have to stay in Chinandega if you arrive there after 1pm. You can spend the night at a cheap hostel with breakfast included for $10:
Av Central, Chinandega, WhatsApp: +505 7709 2039, Mario Flores.
Having arrived to El Rosario, you’ll find yourself in front of a cow farm.
You have three options to choose how to get to the site:
2. Guatemala - Chinandega
In case you are travelling from Guatemala City, you need to catch a direct bus to Managua. You will need to get to the bus terminal Transporte Del Sol by hailing a taxi or ordering an Uber. It takes around 20 minutes and 35-50Q to get there.
The bus from Guatemala City to Managua departs at 2:00 am and arrives at 9:30 pm, charging you a $70 one-way ticket and $18 entrance visa fee at the border. You’ll be offered soft drinks, breakfast and lunch on board. There is a WC.
The bus goes to Transporte Del Sol in Managua. You’ll need to stay the night in the capital. Here is a cheap hostel you can use (prices starting from $10 per night):
Villa FontanaVilla Fontana - Club Terraza 2 C. Abajo, 2 C. al Sur, y 1/2 C, Managua, 14174,Nicaragua, phone number: +505 2278 3689.
Take a taxi (80 NIO) to Mercado Israel Lewites and find the bus to Chinandega (see above).
3. Transportes del Sol Guatemala - Chinandega via Salvador (Tue, Thu, Sat)
You need to get to the Transporte del Sol bus terminal from the airport. There is a bus from Guatemala City to Chinandega on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, which departs at 3:30 pm and arrives in Salvador at 9:30 pm.
At 1:00 am it will be proceeding to Chinandega, charging you $75 one-way ticket and $18 entrance visa fee at the border. You’ll be offered soft drinks, breakfast and lunch on board. There is a WC.
You have to find a bus to El Rosario and follow the instructions described above when getting to the construction site.
Let’s build our new home together!