Driving Travel Times in Nicaragua

  • Don't be fooled by the small size of the country of Nicaragua, just because there are not very many kilometers between the places that you want to go chances are it is going to take you rather a long time to get there. I have heard the British give similar warnings around traveling around the UK: but you will need to multiply that effect here in Nica.

    There are several issues that contribute to this. First the speeds on the highways are slow, very slow. The fastest highway that I have found in the country never goes about eighty kilometers per hour. That is just fifty miles per hour for the Americans and by contrast Spain's highways are generally one hundred and forty kilometers per hour - nearly double the top end speed. And unlike in the US or in Europe, the top speed of the highway is rarely what you get to do.

    In Nicaragua the highway just goes through towns and cities with continuous foot traffic on the sides of the road, never an extra lane beyond the two (two total, one in each direction) and never a shoulder to speak of. The official speed drops from eight to forty regularly, often the top speed is fifty or sixty and during school periods the speed in an incredibly number of places, including all along the length of the PanAmerican which is the biggest highway in the country, drops to just twenty five!

    There is traffic everywhere in the country, often in the form of slow moving trucks, pickups full of hitchhikers, scooters that struggle to get up to speed even going down hill and then there are pedestrians, bicyclists and, of course, horse drawn carts everywhere. And that is not the worst of the traffic issues. It is incredibly common for the road to be full of cattle, chickens or other animals. You never know what you are going to find.

    Driving here is a continuous adventure and you need to think about how slowly you will be creeping down the highway when you begin to calculate out your plans. That city might be only one hundred kilometers away, but it is going to be three hours before you have any hopes of getting there.