For Managua International Airport (MGA), take any bus marked ‘Tipitapa’ from Mercado Huembes, Mercado San Miguel or Mercado Oriental (near Victoria brewery), US$0.25. Alternatively, take a taxi (US$7-15). Be early for international flights – formalities are slow and thorough. Artisan stalls and cheap food in between arrivals and departures. Duty-free shops, café, toilets through immigration. You are not allowed to stay overnight in the airport. ATMs and money changing facilities.
Tickets for domestic flights can be bought at the domestic terminal, located just west of the exit for arriving international passengers, or from city travel agents or tour operators. Keep luggage to a minimum, as there isn’t much capacity on these little planes. Be aware that schedules are subject to change at any time. To Bilwi, La Costeña, 0630, 1030, 1430, US$148 return, 1½ hrs. To Bluefields, La Costeña, 0600, 0630, 1000, 1400, US$128 return, 1 hr; Atlantic Airlines, 0645, 1410. To Corn Islands, La Costeña, 0630, 1400, US$165 return, 1½ hrs; Atlantic Airlines, 0645, 1410. To Minas, La Costeña, 0900, US$139 return, 1 hr. To San Carlos, La Costeña, 0925, 1425, US$120 return. To Waspam, La Costeña, 1000, US$155 return, 1½ hrs.
AeroMéxico, Óptica Visión, 75 vrs arriba, 25 vrs al lago, T266- 6997, http://www.aeromexico.com. American Airlines, Rotunda El Güegüense 300 vrs al sur, T255-9090, http://www.aa.com. Atlantic Airlines, T270-5355, www.atlanticairlines int.com. Continental Airlines, Edificio Ofiplaza, p 2 edificio 5, T278-7033, http://www.continental.com. Copa Airlines, Carretera a Masaya Km 4 y medio edificio CAR No 6, T233-1624, http://www.copaair.com. Delta Airlines, Rotonda El Güegüense 100 m arriba, T254-8130, http://www.delta.com. La Costeña, T263-2142. Spirit Airlines, airport, T233-2884, http://www.spiritair.com. Taca Airlines, Edificio Barcelona, Plaza España, T266-3136, http://www.taca.com.
Beware of pickpockets on the crowded urban buses, particularly on tourist routes. City buses run every 10 mins 0530- 1800, every 15 mins 1800-2200, when last services begin their routes; buses are frequent but routes are difficult to fathom. Tickets cost about US$0.20. The main bus routes are:
No 101 from Las Brisas, passing CST, Hotel Intercontinental, Mercado Oriental, then on to Mercado San Miguel and El Mayoreo.
No 103 from 7 Sur to Mercado Lewites, Plaza 19 de Julio, Metrocentro, Mercado San Miguel and Villa Libertad.
No 109 from Teatro Darío to the Bolívar/Buitrago junction just before Intercontinental turns east, then southeast to Mercado Huembes/bus station;
No 110 from 7 Sur to Villa San Jacinto passing en route Mercado Lewites, Plaza 19 de Julio, Metrocentro, Mercado Huembes/ bus station and Mercado San Miguel.
No 113 from Ciudad Sandino, Las Piedrecitas, CST, Intercontinental, to Mercado Oriental.
No 116 runs east-west below Inter- continental, on Buitrago, also passing CST.
No 118 takes a similar route but turns south on Williams Romero to Plaza España, thence to Israel Lewites bus station.
No 119 runs from Plaza España to Mercado Huembes/bus station via Plaza 19 de Julio.
No 123 runs from Mercado Lewites via 7 Sur and Linda Vista to near Palacio Nacional de Cultura, and Nuevo Diario.
Bus Expresos are drama- tically faster than regular routes. Check with terminal to confirm when the next express will leave. Payment is required in advance and seat reservations are becoming more common. There are also microbuses serving some of the major destinations. These are comparatively speedy and as comfortable as it gets.
La UCA serve just a few destinations close to Managua. Expresos and microbuses are cheap, fast and particularly recommended if travelling to Granada, León or Masaya. To Granada, every 15 mins or when full, 0530- 2100, US$1.10, 1 hr. To Jinotepe, 0600-2100, every 20 mins or when full, US$1.10, 1 hr. To León, every ½ hr, 0730- 2100, US$1.75, 1½ hrs. To Masaya, every 15 mins or when full, 0530-2100, US$0.65, 40 mins.
Mercado Roberto Huembes, also called Mercado Central, is used for destinations southwest. To Granada, every 15 mins, 0520-2200, Sun 0610-2100, US$1, 1½ hrs. To Masaya, every 20 mins, 0625-1930, Sun until 1600, US$0.50, 50 mins. To Peñas Blancas, express bus, 0400, US$3, 3½ hrs; or go to Rivas for connections. To Rivas, every 30 mins, 0400-1800, US$1.75, 2½ hrs; express buses, US$2.50, 2 hrs; microbuses, US$3, 1½ hrs. To San Juan del Sur, express bus, 0900, 1600, US$3.25, 2½ hrs; or go to Rivas for connections.
Mercado Mayoreo, for destinations east and then north or south. To Boaco, every 30 mins, 0500-1800, US$1.75, 2 hrs. To Camoapa, 8 daily, 0630-1700, US$2.25, 3 hrs. To El Rama, 8 daily, 0500-2200, US$8, 9 hrs. To Estelí, every 30 mins, 0400-1800, US$3, 3½ hrs; express buses, 12 daily, US$3.50, 2½ hrs. To Jinotega, express buses, 11 daily, 0400-1730, US$3.50, 3½ hrs. To Juigalpa, every 20 mins, 0500-1730, US$3, 2½ hrs. To Matagalpa every 30 mins, 0330-1800, US$2.50, 2½ hrs; express buses, 12 daily, US$3, 2 hrs. To Ocotal, express buses, 12 daily, 0545-1745, US$5.50, 3½ hrs. To San Rafael del Norte, express bus, 1500, US$6, 4 hrs. To San Carlos, 0500, 0600, 0700, US$9, 9½ hrs. To Somoto, express buses, Mon-Sat 0715, 0945, 1245, 1345, 1545, 1645, Sun no express after 1345, US$4.50, 3½ hrs.
Mercado Israel Lewites, also called Mercado Boer, for destinations west and northwest. Microbuses leave from here, particularly recommended for journeys to León. To Chinandega, express buses, every 30 mins, 0600-1915, US$2.50, 2½ hrs. To Corinto, every hr, 0500-1715, US$3.50, 3 hrs. To Diriamba, every 20 mins, 0530- 1930, US$1.25, 1 hr 15 mins. To El Sauce, express buses, 0745, 1445, US$3.25, 3½ hrs. To Guasaule, 0430, 0530, 1530, US$3.25, 4 hrs. To Jinotepe, every 20 mins, 0530- 1930, US$1.25, 1 hr 30 mins. To León, every 30 mins, 0545-1645, US$1.25, 2½ hrs; express buses, every 30 mins, 0500-1645, US$1.50, 2 hrs; microbuses, every 30 mins or when full, 0600-1700, US$1.75, 1½ hrs. To Pochomil, hourly, 0600-1920, US$1, 2 hrs.
The cheap and efficient international buses are often booked up many days in advance and tickets will not be sold until all passport/visa documentation is complete. The best known is Ticabus, which parks in Barrio Martha Quezada, from Cine Dorado, 2 c arriba, T222-6094, www.tica bus.com, with services throughout Central America. Other operators include King Quality, end of Calle 27 de Mayo, opposite Plaza Inter, T228-1454, www.kingquality ca.com and Transnica, la Rotonda de Metro- centro 300 m al lago, 50 m arriba, T277-3133, http://www.transnica.com.
To Costa Rica Ticabus, 0600, 0700, 1200, US$15, 8hrs; King Quality, 1330, US$21, 8½ hrs; Transnica, 0530, 0700, 1000, 1200 (executive), US$13, executive service US$22, 8½ hrs.
To El Salvador Ticabus, 0500, US$30, 11 hrs; King Quality, 0330 (quality), 0530 (cruceros), 1100 (King), ‘Cruceros class’, US$25, ‘Quality Class’ US$35, ‘King Class’ US$51, 11 hrs; Transnica, 0500, US$18, 11 hrs.
To Guatemala Ticabus, 0500, US$46, 30 hrs including an overnight stay in El Salvador; King Quality, 0230 (cruceros), 1530 (quality/king), ‘Cruceros class’ US$52, ‘Quality Class’ US$62, ‘King Class’ US$86, 15 hrs.
To Honduras (Tegucigalpa) Ticabus, 0500, US$23, 8 hrs, then continues to San Pedro Sula, US$37, 10 hrs; King Quality, 0330 (king), 1130 (quality), ‘Quality Class’ US$30, ‘King Class’ US$42, 8½ hrs; Transnica, 0500, 8 hrs, US$20.
To Mexico (Tapachula) Ticabus, 0500, US$63, 36 hrs, including overnight stay in El Salvador; King Quality, ‘Quality Class’ US$74, ‘King Class’ US$96.
To Panama Ticabus, 0600, 0700, 1200, US$44, 28-32 hrs, including a 2- to 6-hr stopover in Costa Rica.
All car hire agencies have rental desks at the international airport arrivals terminal. It is not a good idea to rent a car for getting around Managua, as it is a confusing city and fender benders are common and an injury accident means you could go to jail, even if not at fault. Outside the capital main roads are better marked and a rental car means you can get around more freely. (Taxis can also be hired by the hour or by the day.)
For good service and 24-hr roadside assistance, the best rental agency is Budget, http://www.budget.com.ni, airport, T263- 1222, Holiday Inn, T270-9669, and just off Carretera Sur at Montoya, 1 c abajo, 1 c sur, T255-9000 (main office). Average cost of a small Toyota is US$50 per day while a 4WD (a good idea if exploring) is around US$100 per day with insurance and 200 km a day included; 4WD weekly rental rates range from US$600-750. Also at the airport is Avis, T233-3011, http://www.avis.com.ni, and Hertz, T266-8399. Another reliable agency is Toyota Rent a Car, http://www.toyotarentacar.com, which has cars to match its name and is at the airport, T266-3620, the Hotel Princess, T270-4937, and the Camino Real, T263-2358.
Taxis (the best method of transport for foreigners) can be flagged down on the street. Fares range from US$1.50-2 for a short trip, US$2-3.50 across town, US$10 to airport. Fares are always per person, not per car. Taxi drivers may decide not to take you if your destination is in a different direction to other passengers. If they agree, ask how much (¿por cuánto me lleva?) before getting in. If the front seat is empty take it as the back seat will be filled en route. Street names and numbers are not universal in the city and the taxi driver may not know your destination; have the telephone number of your hotel with you. If heading for Barrio Martha Quezada, ask for the Ticabus if you do not know your exact destination. Taxis from the airport are 50% cheaper from the main road beyond the car park.
Radio taxis are recommended for early flights or late night transport. Companies include: Co-op 25 de Febrero, T222-5218, or Co-op 2 de Agosto, T263-1512, get price quote on the phone (normally 80-100% more expensive).
Ins and outs
The airport is 12 km east of the city, near the lake. Buses and taxis (US$15 to Barrio Martha Quezada, half the price if hailed from the main road) run from the airport to the city. International bus services arrive at several terminals throughout the city. Ticabus and King Quality are in Barrio Martha Quezada, close to most of the cheap hotels. Transnica is in Metrocentro. Provincial bus services have three main arrival/departure points. City buses and taxis serve the provincial terminals.
Instituto Nicaragüense de Turismo (INTUR) (Hotel Crown Plaza, 1 c al sur, 1 c abajo, enter by the side door, T254-5191, http://www.visitanicaragua.com, http://www.intur.gob.ni,
Mon-Sat 0800-1700) provides limited information about Managua and other parts of the country. Information on national parks and conservation should be obtained from Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas (Sinap) (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Marena), Km 12.5 Carretera Norte, T263-2617) .