Honduras / Nicaragua


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Description : A cumbersome border posts on both side of the Rio Negro

Comments : This isn't a nice place and a rather bad introduction to Nicaragua. The Honduras side is better.

What to do ? Take your time to change money : the rate will get better (from C0.80 to C0.85 for L1, fair rate) / Queue a bit to pay the L15 ($1) Honduras exit tax (same for entry, rates change with the wind) / Then queue a bit to have your passport stamped and your L15 receipt confiscated / Walk for 10mn over the bridge toward the Nicaragua side (300m). Alternatively, it cost L10 to get a bike ride / Fill up the entrance form / Pay US$7 (ordinary service $2 + tourist card $5) / Get your two receipts and your passport stamped (you should get 90 days) / Change some US$ cash into corobas at the bank (or the reverse) / Walk to the bus station and have your passport controlled one more time

What you may not like ? The assaults of the money changers, guiding you toward the procedures, on the Honduras side / The assaults of the beggar kids, well inside the immigration office, on the Nicaragua side / The US$7 entrance fee (exit fee is US$2), payable only in US$ : rates clearly printed on a board / The impossibility to change TC or Limpiras at the bank on Nicaragua side / 

How long ? Believe me, you do not wish to extend your stay ! The whole process, from bus to bus, took me one hour. 

Where to eat ? A few comedores around, as the place is popular with truck drivers. 

Change money ? The moneychangers rates on Honduras side are fair and even better than the banks in Leon for Lempiras into US$ : 15.50 instead of 15.60. Remember that it is difficult to change anything but US$ cash in Nicaragua (rates for TC OK in Granada however). Bargaining & taking your time before changing is recommended. On Nicaragua side, less moneychangers but a busy bank, changing US$ cash only at an OK rate (still slightly lower than in Leon : 13.26 instead of 13.31)

Why this border ? This is apparently the worst border crossing but it is the fastest option to reach Leon. If you wish to visit Matagalpa, you should use one of the other two borders : El Espino from Choluteca or Las Manos from Tegucigalpa via Danli. 

The trip to Leon via Chinandega : SSS / Left / C12 + C7.5 / 2 hours + 1 hour
A 'Managua' bus was waiting by the immigration office but I was explained that it would not leave until 3pm. The bus station was actually 10mn walk away. There, other direct buses to Leon (C20) or Managua (C35) but the same afternoon only departures.
Fortunately, familiar yellow buses leave to Chinandega every 30mn until 17:30. They cost C13 and are painfully slow, taking 2 hours to cover the 75km. The road wasn't too good as well, with three bridges under repair. Nor was the scenery spectacular, at least until the last 30mn, when Volcan San Cristobal made an appearance on the left side. 
The change of bus was fast, with buses to Leon (C7.5) every 11 or so minutes. Direct buses or minibus to Managua (C25) are also frequent until 6pm. 
The 41km took one hour to cover, on an OK road with view toward a couple of volcanoes on the left side. 

See also the trip from Choluteca