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Published: April 5th 2014
We arrived on the Tica Bus from Panama City. The Tica bus station is in a new building in the West of the City, not near the Supreme Court as our lonely planet said. It is on Avenue 3, transvera 26 near the other bus stations in the North West. There is a Tica Hotel in the bus terminal.
We needed to book our TransNica bus to Mangua for the following day so we walked a couple of blocks to do this and the new Tica location was a lot handier.
Where We Stayed
Hotel el Dorado - just around the corner from the TransNica bus terminal on Avenue 5 Calle 22 Frene al Bar Pecos Bill. $24 for a double room with bathroom, hot showers and TV. We had a bus at 5am so handy to walk to the terminal.
Where We Went Next
We caught the 5am bus to Managua with TransNica. We arrived at the border with Nicaragua at 10:30am and got our free exit stamp from Costa Rica. We were a bit worried as when we bought our bus ticket to Managua the ticket guy said something about a $7 exit fee (our Spanish is not so good). We were later looking online and found out lots of posts about a $7 departure tax on land borders which needed to be paid before you got to the border so then started wondering if this is what he had told us. We hadn't had to pay when going to Panama on the Sixalo border so we just left it and assumed the bus guys would mention it again if it was required. When we got to the Costa Rica exit there was no mention of this tax. There was a machine which looked like an ATM if the office where I think you could pay the tax however it had a big sign on it saying not to use it.
To get into Nicaragua we had to pay $13 for the visa and taxes. Our bus driver took our passports and money after our exit stamp which we found a bit worrying and we got back on the bus and drove to Nicaragua. Once there we had to put our bags on a long table and hand in our customs forms to the officer. Our bags weren't even checked. There was a bit of a wait before a man came over with all our passports and handed them back individually as we got on the bus. We were then given our change. The bus left about 11:30am.
We arrived at the TransNica terminal in Managua at 1:45pm. This is next to the cathedral and only a 15 min walk to the UCA terminal. Walk out to the main road and turn left. Once you see the metrocentre roundabout turn right (you can cross over the pedestrian bridge) and walk to UCA. We just missed a bus to Leon and had to wait until about 2:30 before another minibus arrived. By this time there was a massive queue but we were first in line so we were off to Leon again.
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