Hello,Am planning on visiting Leon 5/14, arriving by air in Managua. Travel options between these cities, costs, safety issues?
On 5/16 will visit child in Compassion Int'l project who lives in Neighborhood Maritza Lopez, 3 km. south of Leon. Compassion will handle travel between Leon and project. But I need help choosing best way to get from Managua to Leon; and back again 5/19.
Richard, Nicaragua has some challenges in terms of safety.... not impossible, but you need to be wary.
Managua to Leon is only 90 kms (60 miles) and takes about 90 minutes. The old Leon road is apparently in terrible condition, so if you decide to hire a car make sure you get good advice on the best route. Also, if you do hire a car, keep the windows up and the doors locked. Hire cars and cars with foreign plates do get targeted from time to time by bandits. Don't drive at night.
There are mini-buses (collectivos) but they can be crowded and uncomfortable... and potentially dangerous (bad roads, poor driving and sometimes they attract crooks).
Local buses are plentiful and really cheap - but depending on your travel experience they may not be for you. Make sure you get an express or you'll be stopping to pick up and drop off passengers a lot. of course luggage security is a concern on any bus service - keep your valuables in a day pack secured tightly to your body for the trip.
It's possible to take a taxi all the way, but make sure you don't use an unofficial taxi, kidnappings from taxis are a problem. Arrange one from one of the radio-taxi companies and pay the driver extra to make sure he doesn't pick up other passengers.
There are a few companies which run shuttle bus services to and from Leon.... you can find them online (I've heard of one called Passeo, but can't vouch for it).
Or an alternative to the hire car is to hire a car and driver - the most expensive option, but relatively speaking, still pretty cheap.
By all accounts Leon is a wonderful city, full of great architecture with a vibrant culture, and generally a lot safer than Managua.
When staying in Managua make sure you choose a hotel that has 24-hour concierge/security, and watch out for the high rates of petty crime.
Phil about 8 years ago