Nicaragua

Last updated September 23, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2022 — Green

After many strides forward, we are very excited to have ILP volunteers in Nicaragua for the Spring, Summer and Fall 2021 semesters. We’re planning on a Spring 2022 semester in this location as well.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also this info changes often, so check back frequently.

Getting There

Airports in Nicaragua are open and visitors are allowed in as long as they have proof of a negative PRC COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours of arrival).

You don’t need a visa to enter Nicaragua, so that’s something we don’t have to worry about waiting for.

While airlines have been announcing flights to Nicaragua, the details of the Covid-testing requirements have internal contradictions that make meeting them very difficult or impossible (tests cannot be taken more than 72 hours prior entry but for air travel, the requirements for producing results in advance leave only a few hours to get results after the test. Furthermore,  rapid antigen test results are not accepted).

For this reason, many airlines have still suspended flights, even though the country is officially open to flights. Until this changes, ILP groups will be likely traveling to a nearby country, such as Costa Rica, and cross the land border a few hours away from the ILP location in Granada.

As a reminder, travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Those who present a positive test are also allowed in, but are subject to contact tracing for 14 days and must not have any respiratory symptoms.

Daily Life

The virus trends in Nicaragua are proving tricky to track, and we have had to rely on local contacts who are there as well as some NGOs committed to monitoring the virus (who are relying on contributions from many volunteer healthcare workers and private citizens).

There’s a lack of testing availability in many areas, so the reports are mostly estimated based on information from other countries and the observed hospitalization rates. Managua (the capital city) was hit the hardest, while Granada (where ILP volunteers live) has not reached the same levels. The main hospitals that ILP volunteers use have not exceeded capacity. Vaccinations started in March.

An upward trend in cases began in the Fall 2021 semester and we are watching closely to see if there are any restrictions that come because of that.

Because the country did not institute a lockdown, public schools have been in session and that’s looking like it will continue. Over the summer, private schools closed voluntarily based on their own assessment of the risk of the virus. The educational center where ILP volunteers teach in Granada voluntarily closed in March 2020 out of an abundance of caution, but is now open for the Fall 2021 semester. We anticipate the center staying open for the Spring 2022 semester as well.

Things are a go in this country, with markets, beaches, zip line adventures, afternoons on Lake Nicaragua, baby sea turtle releases, chocolate massages, tropical hikes, and other adventures open for locals and tourists. 

Plan on experiencing all the best parts of Nicaragua during your semester: locals in the area report that life is back to 95% of what it was like before the pandemic.

Out & About

The government is now recognizing the virus as a health threat and some restrictions from the government have been put in place. Previously there were no government-mandated restrictions and only socially-imposed self-restrictions, so things like lockdowns or curfews are unlikely.

Wearing masks is mandatory in  banks, government offices, and major chain stores like malls. You’ll see varying levels of who’s wearing a mask, and who’s not outside of those locations. ILP volunteers are encouraged to wear a mask when out in public.

In-country travel is allowed, but will be considered on a case by case basis (which has been the situation for past semesters, before the pandemic). Volunteers can plan on adventures like volcano trekking, hiking in thick jungles, and soaking up time on Nicaragua’s beautiful beaches, and are likely to have the opportunity for out-of-country travel as well.

Land borders to Costa Rica are open as of April 5th after a long closure, which opens up the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and Panama on vacation. Volunteers will work with their Program Managers about testing required for entering and exiting the country volunteers would be visiting (currently, Panama requires a negative test upon arrival and extra tests/quarantines for those who are unvaccinated.  All visitors to Costa Rica must have a specific type of health insurance to cover their stay). 

We’re happy to see travel start up between these countries, which are both favorite vacation destinations for our Nicaragua volunteers!

Can I still apply for Nicaragua?

Absolutely! Like was outlined above, we are excited for a semester here for Fall 2021 after successful Summer and Spring 2021 semesters.  If you’re considering traveling here for Spring 2022 or even for semesters further into 2022, now is a great time to start your application for those semesters as well. We also have Spring 2023 open for applications.

We are so excited for volunteers to be back in Nicaragua!

What is traveling and living in Nicaragua like right now? 

We’re seeing good signs in this particular country especially when compared to numbers in the United States. For Nicaragua, things have slowly been opening back up international tourism. There are some of the same precautions you’d take at home (plan on wearing a mask and social distancing). Just like there is a risk to go out in Utah right now, there will be risks to traveling anywhere, including Nicaragua.