A baby and a backpack: Nicaragua

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After a trip to France and Italy when Leila was 2-4 months old and continually being on the road for work in the states a backpacking trip to Nicaragua with the little one seemed like a piece of cake.


Best Product Brought: Lillebaby Airflow Complete

Since we were always on the move my favorite baby carrier (I have like 7) came in handy. It's mesh so very breathable. Extra comfy for baby and lots of padding for us. The mesh head cover is great for naps on the go or to protect from the sun and the front zippered pocket is a great place to stick money and phone.

Product we should have left at home: KidCo Peapod

Though we do love this quick popup tent since we were always moving we only used it once. It also took up half of our backpack space. This would be more useful for a beach trip where outdoor naps would be more common.

Product we wish we brought: Mountain Buggy Highchair

We ate out 2-3 meals per day. Restaurants don't have highchairs unless you go to fancy places so holding the squirt with one hand while trying to eat wasn't always easy. Luckily there were lots of friendly helping hands around but the seat would have made it easier.

Itinerary: Managua-Masaya-Ometepe-Leon-Matagalpa-Esteli-Somoto-Poneloya-Managua


Traveling with a baby in Nicaragua

As our first true backpacking experience with Leila, aka Leilita, Nicaragua is a super easy country to travel in general but even more so with a baby. Everyone REALLY loves babies here and everywhere we went she was quickly plucked out of our hands, passed around and played with. For parents carrying a baby around 24/7 this is a very welcomed respite. If on the other hand you find yourself to be prudish parents that freak every time someone glances at your child: stay home. In full buses someone always quickly gave up their seat for mom (or dad) and baby and every walk down a street every shopkeeper and passerby happily smiled at us and looked into the baby carrier exclaiming “que linda!”, “la preciosa”, and more endearing phrases.


Budget: For the16 days we had we planned a budget of $640 which was $40 per day or $20 per person per day. We ended up spending exactly $600 which was $18.75 per day. We did not couchsurf and as it was our first real backpacking trip with Leila we took it easy not really hitchhiking either and we definitely enjoyed our fair share of beers and activities. We could have easily spent less or more but this is an easy backpacking budget.


Sleeping: Lodging was way more expensive than we were used to in our previous Asia and South America trips at around 10-20$ (300-600 Cordobas) per night. This is with us searching the entire town to find the absolute cheapest place and negotiating on top of that. Without doing hardcore searching you can find hotels on the lower end at $15-$20 per night. The guesthouses we stayed at were usually run by a very friendly family or staff with a bathroom, fan and lots of windows.


Food: Though Nicaraguan food probably won't be winning any awards it's cheap, and satisfying. We loved finding markets where we could pick exactly what we wanted for about $1 for a vegetarian meal of fried eggs, beans, avocado, cheese and tortillas.

Verdict: Amazing place to travel with kids

A Baby and a Backpack in Masaya, Nicaragua

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Masaya, along with Matagalpa, Somoto, and Poneloya one of our favorite cities in Nicaragua. There's a plethora of things to see and do nearby plus its super close to Managua yet very few tourists. Masaya has everything we love about a town: few tourists, lots to do, cheap, friendly people, and very lively.

Getting There: We arrived at Managua International Airport and crossed the street to the mainroad where after enquiring with a few locals we hopped on a bus written “Huembes” to go to Managua's main bus terminal which serves most southern destinations. Terminal Israel serves the northern locations and UCA has minibuses (around the same prices as the large buses) that go to Lyon, Granada, etc. The local bus from the airport to Huembes cost 2.5 cordobas. At the terminal we quickly found the bus for Masaya (final destination “RIVAS”) which cost 15 cordobas per person. Buses that don't end there or go to the terminal will drop you off on the highway really close to the city center.

Sleeping in Masaya: After hours of walking around enquiring at several hotels, hostales and hospedajes we found HOTEL CENTRALE which funny enough we had looked at before arriving on booking.com and airbnb.com. The super friendly young guy that runs the place and his sweet family immediately made us feel welcome and showed us a clean room with a window and private bathroom for $12 per night. We happily accepted and immediately washed off under a cold shower and laid down under the fan and took a nice long nap after the long journey of plane rides, sleeping in airports, bus rides and hotel searching.
The guy that runs the hotel has plenty of information on what to do in the area and speaks decent English. He will happily help with anything, let you boil water, use the fridge, etc. His mom loved Leila and we pretty much had a permanent babysitter there as she pulled out all her old baby stuff from the attic.

What to Do:
Laguna Apoyo (Crater Lake): 13 Cordobas on the bus from Masaya. Bus says “Laguna Apoyo” on it specifiy “la baja” as not all go to the bottom of the crater. There are two buses per day. One at 7:30am and one at 10:30 am and one back at 4:30 pm but ask to make certain while you're there.

After a long windy road with killer views down the crater the bus arrives at the bottom of the crater and the road forks where the bus will continue left. We got off there (there is also a cheap tienda there if you need snacks, drinks, etc) and walked to Apoyo Resort where I wanted to spend my birthday. There is no entry fee but guests must spend a minimum of 200 cordobas each. Beware they charge around 20% for taxes and tips on top of the high prices! Food is super expensive but beer isn't too high. We split a nacho appetizer which was enough food for two people and had a few beers. At Apoyo Resort there's a small pool and a nice beach area. It's not bad. The pool stunk of chlorine and I'm sure we could easily find a free beach by walking around but we wanted a nice place to relax. A nice bonus was this resort doesn't really cater to foreigners so we were the only foreigners there- all the better for us!
The other place we knew of was Monkey Hut where foreigners go to party- not our scene- there's a $7 entry fee which includes kayak usage for an hour and free coffee.
Our Kidco Peapod came in handy here and luckily they had a highchair.
Nachos plus 5 beers- 488 cordobas (a little less than $15). 

Our table at Apoyo
On our way back we ended up hitching a ride with three cool guys from Managua as we went to the bus stop at 3:30 and the bus doesn't come til 4:30 (we didn't ask ahead of time). It was a great experience meeting these three guys and it was Leila's first time hitchhiking plus we made it all the way back to our hotel in Masaya super quick and free. Happy Birthday to me :)
Verdict: Laguna de Apollo: Don't miss it.