Hello, we are flying into Costa Rica, and then want to see Monteverde and Arenal. Then we would like to maybe take a bus towards Managua. Has anyone done something similar, do you know how long it takes to get to Managua from Santa Elena?
Also, if you have been thru this region and have some places of interest i'd love to hear them. We definitley are not looking to do many "touristy: things....
Managua to Santa Elena Guatemala?....or somewhere else?
There are plenty of buses plying that route. Just go to the bus station in Arenal, and you are on your way. The Nica border crossing is chaotic, and unless you are on a major carrier, like Tica Bus, you're going to have to get off one bus and on to another. There are no signs to direct you where to go, and the line up on the Nica side is deceptive. If there are two of you, get one to stand in the first line you see, and have the other patrol the other side of the building for the other, hidden, line, which is the one you usually want. That line, on the other side, is for tourists. DO NOT just blindly follow the packers in front of you, they are mostly lost too. The exit through to Nica after the border is actually a hole in the wall, and not the exit that the big rigs are using. Look for a couple of bored border guards by a tiny door in the wall to the west of the compound. Go through there, past all the cabbies trying to screw you, and to the bus area.
Managua, not to put to fine a point on it, blows monkey dick. There is nothing AT ALL to see or do there. Go to Granada instead, which is not far away. When you ignore my advice (and it was hard earned knowledge you're ignoring) come back on and tell me how right I was.
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Jun-2010, at 13:37 by Piecar ]
My advice is also to visit Grenada, I was there several years ago, it is beautiful place along the lake very traveller friendly, we travelled the length of central america from belize to panama all by bus, great value with lunch thrown in. Border crossings are notoriously slow but go with the flow. Do not change your money at these borders, however tempting the trade may be, you will get a better deal later. Good luck Stokesy
The question is from where you intend to start your trip to Nicaragua: Monteverde or Arenal?
However, in both cases I suggest that you arrange for transportation to Liberia, from where you may pick up the various international buses going to the border or beyond Costa Rica (Nicabus, Ticobus, and others). You will need to get help in either of the two places where you will be leaving from to get the right connection and reserve a seat.
Yes, the border crossing is somewhat cumbersome, but on the Nicaraguan side the busdriver usually makes the entrance fairly easy. Things have improved just recently!
You can also take a Costarican bus to the border, walk the short distance to the Nicaraguan border, do all formalities yourself and take a local bus to wherever you fancy going (Rivas, Granada, Managua)
As others wrote, Managua is not particularly attractive and a good choice is to stay in Granada.
If you opt for doing the border crossing walking, take a bus to Rivas and from there a short ferry to Ometepe island. Well worth a visit!
From Rivas you also have an easy ride to San Juan del Sur, a pleasant beach town with plenty of accommodation possibilities.
Keep hold of your dollars and only change once you are well into the country and find a bank.