Managua to Rivas

Approximately 26 km from Managua, the Pan-American highway climbs to 900 m at Casa Colorada. Further on, at El Crucero, a paved branch road goes through the Sierra south to the Pacific beaches of Pochomil and Masachapa.
The highway continues through the beautiful scenery of the sierras to
, in a coffee-growing district 42 km from Managua. In the centre of the town is the
Museo Ecológico de Trópico Seco
, with displays of local flora and fauna, including coffee and turtles, and a section on volcanoes. The local fiesta is on 20 January. There is a 32-km dirt road direct to the beach at
(no buses).

Five kilometres north of Diriamba a paved road branches off the main highway and runs east through
San Marcos
, Masatepe (famous for wooden and rattan furniture) and Niquinohomo to Catarina and Masaya. A road also leads to
La Concepción
, a small industrious village in the highlands, very typical of this part of Nicaragua, where few travellers go. The area is rich in pineapple, pitaya, coffee, mandarins and oranges and the people are welcoming. Access is by bus from Jinotepeor from Managua's Roberto Huembes terminal.

Five kilometres beyond Diriamba is
, capital of the coffee-growing district of Carazo. It has a fine neoclassical church with modern stained-glass windows from Irún, in Spain. 'Liberation Day' is celebrated on 5 July here, while the fiesta in honour of St James the Greater runs from 24-26 July.

, 21 km south of Jinotepe, a paved road runs north to Granada. Nandaime has two interesting churches, El Calvario and La Parroquia (1859-1872). The annual fiesta, 24-27 July, features masked dancers.

At Km 85 is the signed turn off that leads down a long dirt road to the private reserve and lodge of
. About 45 km beyond Nandaime (by bus) is Rivas.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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