Category Archives: Nicaragua

BREAKING NEWS: 7.6 Earthquake Rattles Costa Rica

Today at 8:42 a.m. local time (14:42 UTC), a 7.6 earthquake hit the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The epicenter was Nicoya Península in Guanacaste Province, 80 kilometers (50 mi) from Liberia.


Preliminary reports cite electrical outrages and highway damage. The cell phone network has collapsed.  Thus far, two people have been reported missing.


It was also strongly felt in San José and other parts of Costa Rica, as well as in Nicaragua and Panama.


A tsunami alert is still in effect for Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. The warning was issued initially for the Pacific Ocean basin, as far north as Mexico and south to Chile, and for the Caribbean.

On the Road – Peru: Rains Complicating Travel Plans in Latin America

Another year of the La Niña weather system continues to batter Latin America, complicating travel plans in Peru and other countries.


Mexico and Nicaragua are reporting damaging flooding caused by heavy rains. In South America, Colombia is once more experiencing not only flooding, but also landslides, all of which has caused over 700 deaths in recent months. La Paz, Oruro and other places in Bolivia are also suffering, and a state of emergency has been declared in Pando department. It’s even raining in the driest place on the planet: the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The government there had to close major attractions until it could work on roads. Once more, tourists can get out to the region’s riches.


Peru has not been exempt from these damaging rains. Overflowing rivers, crop destruction and other damages are being reported in many parts of the country. The Amazon Basin is affected, from Tingo María in the central jungle down to Puerto Maldonado in the southern jungle. Southern Lima, Áncash and Madre de Dios Departments are under states of emergency, as is Ica, which suffered a 6.2 earthquake on January 30.


Archaeologists are concerned of damages to Chan Chan and other ruins along the north coast.


Roads in the Huaraz, Cusco, Arequipa and Colca Canyon areas are periodically blocked by landslides. Earlier this week, the border crossing between Peru and Chile had to be closed temporarily after intense rains unearthed anti-personnel mines that had been laid in 1975, during the Pinochet dictatorship.


Travelers are advised to keep an eye on the news. You can get to any part of the country, but you might be delayed because of road conditions.


Safe Journeys!


Lorraine Caputo is one of V!VA’s longest-tenured writers. These days, she’s back on the road, updating our 2012 edition of  V!VA Peru. Check the blog for more of her updates from the road.


Nicaragua's Ortega wins landslide re-election

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a socialist former guerrilla leader, won a landslide re-election victory.

Ortega had 62.7 percent of the vote with returns in from 86 percent of polling stations in Sunday’s presidential election over conservative radio personality Fabio Gadea.

Ortega has been criticized for first changing the constitution to allow him to run for a third term, and then for lack of transparency in the apparent election victory.

Ortega’s Third Term Unconstitutional?

photo credit jorgemejilla

Daniel Ortega Presidente 2011

The Nicaragua constitution forbids a person from serving as president more than twice, and from succeeding himself or herself. Ortega was ineligible on both counts. But since his second election as president in 2007 (after an earlier stint 1984-90) Ortega succeeded in placing supporters in key posts on the courts and electoral bodies. Last year the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, at Ortega’s behest, ruled that term limits were unconstitutional, clearing the way for the 66-year-old to run again.

2011 Nicaragua Election Transparency

Here’s how the international observer from the European Union characterized the the voting process in a press conference, according to La Prensa:

Even though the presidential elections were civil, they lacked transparency, the European Union’s mission chief Luis Yáñez said. Yáñez said he did not understand why the Supreme Electoral Council put so many “roadblocks, so much opacity, and so many traps in a process that should have been clean and transparent.”

A report by Transparency International and El Grupo Civico Etica y Transparencia concluded

“Gross and systematic violations. Based on the above conclude that the electoral process does not meet the minimum universal requirements”

The Wall Street Journal reports on where this leaves us today:

Mr. Ortega didn’t immediately claim victory. But his close ally, Venezuela’s populist President Hugo Chávez, quickly sent Mr. Ortega his congratulations from Caracas and pledged to continue working closely with the Nicaraguan leader.

In a communiqué issued in Mr. Chávez’s name, the Venezuelan government called Mr. Ortega a great leader in their common cause. “The Bolivarian revolution will continue working next to the popular, Christian, allied and socialist Sandinista revolution,” the communiqué said.

Since 2008, Mr. Ortega has benefited from about $500 million a year in aid—about 7% of Nicaragua’s gross domestic product—given to his government by Venezuela, according to the Nicaraguan Central Bank.

Latin America News Update: March 5th-11th


While the destruction in Japan appears catastrophic, it appears that Latin America might be spared major damage from the tsunami. While tsunami waves have reached the Mexican coast, they were not large enough to cause serious damage. Countries in Central and South America are bracing for the arrival of the tsunami waves on their Pacific coastlines this evening.

Thanks to Lorraine Caputo for compiling these other stories.


Bolivia’s controversial president, Evo Morales, has decided to keep the US Drug Enforcement Agency out of his country.


A Brazilian judge has reversed a lower court ruling, and it appears work will begin on the enormous Monte Belo dam after all.


The International Court of Justice has ordered both sides out of a disputed border region.


The US government has given permission to airlines to fly charter flights between Cuba and eight additional US cities.


Attempts to ban the screening of a documentary about the corrupt and inefficient Mexican justice system have backfired, as the film has become a major hit in the country.

The Best Places in Latin America to Go Hiking//Trekking

By Allison Carlton, VIVA Editorial Intern

The Latin region is as vibrant as its culture. Vast plains and highlands, rugged mountains, active volcanoes, amazon rainforest and arid deserts have created a geography unique to each individual country that makes up Latin America. For the adventurous, hiking and trekking the rocky mountainsides at high altitudes is a favorite trip moment because of the vistas and panoramic views that greet them at the top. Here is a list of some of the best hikes in Latin America:


National Geographic rated Cerro Campanario as having one of the “Top 10 views in the World” and for good reason. Once you’ve hiked the short trail to the top, head to one of the lookouts for a panoramic view of the mountains and shimmering blue lakes beneath the sun before you. You should be well-rested after your hike up the mountain, which can get very steep, after spending a good amount of time taking in the view, but if not, head inside the cafe for a refreshment.


Serious and experienced hikers only for the challenging Illampu Circuit. This multi-day hike is a tedious 66 miles long and it is recommended that you be acclimatized and assisted by an alpaca or llama to carry your equipment and packs. Magnificent views treat you along the way as you make many ascensions at roughly 1,000 feet per day.

Costa Rica

You may get to see some wildlife during this trail through the rainforest. It is a short walk, roughly 10 minutes in and 20 minutse out, but gets pretty steep, giving your legs a good work out. However, the sound of the rushing Rio Fortuna waterfall in your ears will signal the end of this hike. The white water flows into a turquoise pool surrounded by rocks and boulders, which makes it a bit dangerous to swim in but there is calmer waters within the area.


Pack your warm clothes for this day hike from Quilotoa to Chugchilan that leads you by a volcanic crater, down a valley, through a town and up a canyon. The wind blows and the altitude makes for a much cooler temperature, so breathing may become difficult. It should take 5 hours to complete the 7.5 mile hike, more or less, depending on how often you stop to look at the beautiful sites along the way.


The Cordillera Blanca is a mountain range in the Andes where the country’s highest mountain is located, as well as the world’s most beautiful mountain. With more than 30 peaks over 18,000 ft in altitude and more than 110 miles long, the Cordillera Blanca sits behind Asia for having the world’s highest mountain range. The Santa Cruz hike is a favorite, and probably most popular, among many in the area because of the terrain you get to see during the 31 miles you hike over four days, such as wildflower meadows, lakes, glaciers, trees, views of snow-capped peaks and a statue of Jesus at the end. Acclimatization is recommended before attempting this hike.

Nicaragua Photo Contest Deadline: August 1st!

Snap & Snag

(The cover of our next guidebook!)

Nicaragua Cover Photo Contest

You already show off your Nicaragua photos to friends and family — now’s your chance share them with other travelers (and win cash, too!).  You still have one week to submit your Nicaragua photos for our upcoming travel guide, so hurry and enter at our Flickr page!

  • Winner gets $100 and the coveted cover of our premier guidebook for Nicaragua
  • Runners-up get their photo (and name) inside the guidebook

Are you a well-seasoned traveler? Then check out our Photography Contests page for more countries and competitions.

Upcoming photo contests:

  • September 1: Bolivia
  • October 1: Peru
  • November 1: Argentina
  • November 1: Costa Rica
  • December 1: Southern Mexico
  • December 1: Honduras