Trip season is upon us here in San Ramón – our first group arrives from the University of Northern Iowa on December 26th, and we can’t wait to receive them! As our calendar slowly fills up with groups coming to visit, we get lots of questions from anxious newcomers who want to know what to expect on their Nicaraguan ecotour. Here are a few FAQ’s and their answers.
- What kind of weather should I pack for?
Nicaragua has two seasons: wet and dry. Most of our visitors arrive in the dry season, which begins in December and ends in May. Still, it’s a good idea to pack a light raincoat just in case. In the dry season, temperatures range between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but can get down to the 50’s and 60’s at night, especially up in Finca Esperanza Verde. It’s generally cooler in the rainy season. A light sweater for the evenings is good to have on hand.
To avoid mosquito bites, we suggest packing pants and closed-toed shoes. Good walking shoes are also helpful for the hikes up in the cloud forest. You might want to pack a hat for sunny walks, and don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
- Do I need to be worried about safety?
Though Nicaragua is the safest country in Latin America, its position in the middle of Central America makes people think of the violence they hear about in other Central American countries. I wrote a blog about safety in Nicaragua a while back; you can read about it here.
In short, you don’t have to worry about getting caught in the crossfire of drug wars or civil unrest in Nicaragua. Moreover, by traveling with us you have the added advantage of our long-term relationship with the communities where we work. Latin American cultures are very relationship-centered, so the fact that you are staying with local people means you’re not just a no-name tourist, which means you’re less of a target for theft or harassment.
What you do have to keep in mind is something that can happen when you’re traveling anywhere, and that’s petty theft. Nicaragua is a poor country, and if you’re in a public place displaying a fancy piece of technology, it might not be a surprise when it comes up missing from your open bag when your back was turned. So just like on any trip, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your eye on your stuff.
- Am I going to get sick?
The host families and restaurants that we work with are used to preparing food for foreigners, and know how to prepare food and drinks in a way that will keep you from getting sick. There will be purified water everywhere you go, and lots of opportunities to re-fill your water bottle, which we suggest you do regularly – dehydration can zap the fun out of your experience quickly.
That said, it is not uncommon for visitors to get a mild case of traveler’s diarrhea; you’re eating new foods in a new environment, and people’s bodies react differently. Some folks pack a little OTC medication just in case, and others just let it run its course. In the case of an emergency, our trained staff will activate our Emergency Plan to get you the care you need.
- I’m nervous about staying with a family. What’s it like?
While you may have never stayed with a host family, our host families have been receiving foreigners in their homes for over 20 years, and are more than prepared for your visit! No matter what your level of Spanish, they are masters at non-verbal communication and will make you feel at home instantly. All of the homes have electricity, running water, indoor toilets, mosquito nets, and clean and comfortable conditions. There is some variation between homes in terms of certain amenities like wi-fi and television, but there are plenty of opportunities to connect to the internet in town, and you didn’t come all the way to Nicaragua to watch tv anyway! An overwhelming majority of our visitors say that staying with a family is the best part of their trip. We think you will too.
- I have a thousand more questions. Help!
We have lots of resources on our website, including videos, documents, and links to other sites about Nicaragua. We also have our Ecotour Participant Study Guide, which is filled with information about traveling to Nicaragua, as well as history, culture, and geography. And if you still can’t find an answer to your question, email us! We’re more than happy to answer any and all questions you could possibly have about your trip. We want you to have the peace of mind you need to enjoy your Nicaraguan experience to the maximum, so please don’t hesitate to contact us!