Made unique by the epithet 'The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes', Nicaragua is replete with bountiful wildlife, seismic wonders and immense lakes. The largest country in Central America, Nicaraguan land span is equal to England's, yet immensely more habitable to animals and plants; the country hosts seven per cent of the entire world's biodiversity. Slowly but surely catching up to its neighbouring countries in the tourism stakes, Nicaragua is acquiring its own influx of visitors - the official tourism agency places this figure at one million per year.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the edifying city of Granada is an ode to yesteryear; one of the oldest cities in The Americas, it is the most immaculately preserved colonial city in Nicaragua, boasting architectural grace abounds. Stunningly-maintained mansions shelter verdant internal courtyards, and a cultural celebration can be viewed at the meticulously-restored cathedral and convivial plaza.
Although less polished and preened than its Grenada peer, Leon exudes charisma and offers a whole new realm of authentic tourist experience. Still championing colonial times, crumbling three-hundred year old houses tell a story of their own thanks to revolutionary wall murals and house corner stores. Known nationwide as the country’s ‘intellectual capital’, Leon maintains its proud name in its national University. Adding substance to its namesake, the city is the burial ground of much-loved poet Ruben Dario. Interestingly, poetry poses as an integral part of Nicaraguan identity, acting as a mediator through class divides and a common love for the spoken word. Dario himself was thought of as being in a similar vein to Shakespeare and many other British literary giants.
Nicaragua is a complicated place, drawing crowds for a large wealth of reasons - its complicated history, fascinating towns, geographical marvels and unique experiences such as poetry festivals and traversing coffee routes create endless diversions in this burgeoning Central American country. What is guaranteed is an enriching experience in this previously largely untrodden tourist spot.