We are just back from a fabulous trip to Nicaragua. This was our first trip with TravelLocal and we couldn't recommend them highly enough. The booking process was easy - the internet booking and messaging system worked really well and TravelLocal's experts were extremely responsive and helpful with suggestions and advice. The staff at TravelLocal were also extremely efficient. approachable and very communicative - Huw and Tom were extremely helpful with some last-minute queries and even checked we had arrived OK at the beginning of our trip. We really like the idea of the local agencies and people receiving more of a percentage of our holiday costs
Everything was very well organised and went according to plan. When we had a query about changing our taxi pick-up time for our final airport run, it was easy to get in touch and the response was very efficient and quick. The tours and guides were excellent, and whilst we understood that some tours might be shared, in the event we had every tour to ourselves, which was great. All Vapues staff that we met were very polite, friendly and efficient. We felt we were in safe hands!
1. There was much to-ing and fro-ing shortly before departure relating to the need for yellow fever immunisation with the local tour company - even though the UK/US (our flight route) were not included in the affected countries. In the event, no questions were asked at all about this at the airport. 2. Your documentation stated an airport exit tax of $42 per ticket. When we asked about this at the airport, they stated that this tax only applies to stays of over 90 days. 3. Pre-travel documentation - needed to be with us in advance of travel rather than just on arrival (particularly as in our case it related to where we were to be met). I know this came through eventually but should be standard moving forward. Also, please check through details of the itinerary - we had a number of changes to be made as a number of breakfast/tour times clashed and it was unclear which was correct. Perhaps just including tour times would make more sense.
All drivers very helpful and polite. Guides very friendly, helpful & knowledgable with good spoken English (Franklyin in Leon and Rene in Granada deserve special mention). Extremely punctual - even the driver who picked us up from our hotel in Managua to take us back to the airport, who had to negotiate unexpected electricity works directly outside the hotel.
Identify areas of interest. We liked a combination of cities (Leon, Granada), nature (volcanos, lakes, nature reserves, Ometepe Island) and beach (Morgan's Rock, near San Juan del Sur) and stayed 3 nights in each, which allowed good time for tours and to enjoy the locations. Take the tours - they made a big difference to understanding of the history, culture and way of life. Wine in the restaurants is expensive and not that great!
We enjoyed it all as everything was different. Some highlights were: The boat trip to Juan Venado Island (from Leon)- where we had the estuary to ourselves and an amazing local 'nature-spotter' to help us locate and appreciate the many birds and creatures surrounding us. Sitting on the verandah of our hotel in Granada at sunset, looking out at the beautiful yellow cathedral and watching (and listening to!) the hundreds of birds coming back to roost in the trees of the main plaza Relaxing at the amazing Morgan's Rock and horse-riding on the beach