My boyfriend and I are leaving soon for Nicaragua. Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions regarding driving. We are renting a 4WD Suzuki in Managua and driving to Granada and then to the ferry in Ometepe. I have read some real horror stories and am just hoping to get a clear picture of what to expect. Rough roads do not scare me, corrupt police officers do.
Here are a few more horror details about driving for you.
What it says about driving in this link may be of interest to you.
Also you might find the following link interesting.
We made it from Somotillo (bordering Honduras) to San Juan del Sur in a crappy, rented Nissan Sentra, but I think we left a few parts of the undercarriage along the way. I'd say that if you speak Spanish well, you should be fine.
We did have to pay one bribe, but to be honest, the story was well worth the "fine" of 5 dollars. We were "guilty" of not having a fire extinguisher in our rental (we DID have the emergency triangle) so YOU SHOULD CONFIRM THAT BOTH ARE THERE when you rent your car.
My partner and I both agreed that we would rather have rented a 4x4, but we were able to make do. I think you'll be fine with your Suzuki. It's not really the 4x4 that is necessary, but the ground clearance. Overall, Nicaraguans drive quickly, but not recklessly or aggressively. After a day or two you'll be fine and it doesn't seem like you are going very far. That being said, after seeing the price for SUV's as rentals are you really planning on driving around much?
If not, Masaya and Granada are really accessible from the airport in Managua and you should take a shuttle or rent something smaller/cheaper. For example, there is no way that you should think about driving a Sentra OR Suzuki up to the canopy tours. If you really just want to be able to get from city to city, then skip the SUV.
Thank you. I am actually already back from the trip. The driving kind of ruined the trip for us, especially the bad roads way out on Ometepe and the even worse roads on the Pacific Coast. There were times I wondered if I'd be able to get home that month (rivers in what was once a road). If I went again (which I doubt i would), I wouldn't rent a car. You are right, the clearance is what is needed, and the Diatsu we had lacked that.
The Nicaraguans we asked for directions were helpful and patient with my minimal Spanish. We were lucky in that regard.
Don't drive in Nicaragua. Let others do it for you. It's far too cheap to hire a taxi or take a bus and it's far too risky to drive. I live here and I drive because I must.