Recommend Jan 2018 - 12

CARLA HUNT

CARLA HUNT(3)

G l o b eTr o t t i n g

Nicaragua's Calling

onsitereview

Carla Hunt

The United Nations World Tourism
Organization has ranked Nicaragua among
the top 10 World's Fastest Growing Tourist
Destinations, up 28.4 percent in 2016,
and indeed, Central America's largest
country has become a go-to pick
among savvy travelers looking for
new vacation horizons.
Some of us had already been there
and done that-fallen in love with the
most storied of colonial towns, Granada;
shopped 'till we dropped at the Masaya
market; ziplined through the canopy above
Lake Nicaragua; watched the surfers catch
the waves around the laid-back beach
town of San Juan del Sur; searched for
ancient hieroglyphs on Ometepe, the
island between two volcanoes; gathered
eggs for breakfast at Morgan's Rock (the
12 january 2018

founding pioneer of upscale eco-lodges
in Nicaragua); and savored Pacific sunsets
from rooms with private plunge pools
at five-star+ Mukul Resort & Spa,
spread along the Emerald Coast-but
it seemed a good a time as any to go
back and see what the ongoing buzz was
about. A friend and I booked our paid
arrangements with Lourdes Fuentes, sales
director of Managua-based Careli Tours,
who told us: "Guests coming to explore
our safe, beautiful, adventure destination
before it becomes mainstream often
compare Nicaragua to the Costa Rica
of 30 years ago. I think we're surprising
them, pleasantly and most particularly
with our 21st century comfort level of
elegant boutique hotels in the towns,
stylish eco-lodges in the wilderness and
luxury resorts by the sea."

Two for the Road
Our itinerary called for visiting some of
the "cool" spots in this "hot" tourism
destination. Consider the two we liked best:
one a cultural, hang-out-with-the-locals
urban experience; the other a tropical
wonderland of adventure and hospitality.
Both not to be missed.
Clients may not love Leon the way they
do its older-sister colonial city, Granada-
tops in charm, hotels, restaurants, activities
and fun-but Leon, a 55-mile drive
northwest of Managua, was founded in
1524 as the country's first capital, and today
retains its own grandeur, especially as home
to the country's leading university.
We were there during an amazing
weekend: Beneath portraits of revolutionary
martyrs, bookish and boisterous Leon
turned out with flags and food, stages of live
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