Nicaragua

Last updated March 19, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Summer 2021 — Green

We are very excited to have ILP volunteers in Nicaragua for a Spring 2021 semester after many strides forward. Flights reopened in September and the number of daily new cases has been on the decline since August. Plus, the center where ILP volunteers teach is now open. We’re hopeful this country will also be an option for Summer 2021 semesters. 

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 that they will open 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, and rapid antigen test results are not accepted).

For this reason, many airlines have still suspended flights, even though the country is technically 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.

For the Spring 2021 semester, commercial flights were rather restricted but with help from our partners in Nicaragua, we were able to work everything out. We’re watching the situation closely to see if flights will open up per usual for a Summer 2021 departure.

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. 

Starting in about August, the daily number of new cases started decreasing significantly and overall the growth rate of the outbreak is doing well after a very difficult early summer. Vaccinations started in March.

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 Spring 2021 semester. We anticipate the center staying open for the Summer 2021 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 not mandatory except 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. ILP volunteers are encouraged to wear a mask when out in public. so things like lockdowns or curfews are unlikely.

In-country travel is allowed, but will be considered on a case by case basis which has been the situation for past semesters. Volunteers can plan on adventures like volcano trekking, hiking in thick jungles, and soaking up time on Nicaragua’s beautiful beaches.

There are some complications with international vacations for our Spring 2021 semester, thanks to testing requirements for nearby countries and some border restrictions. Because of a few factors related to the pandemic, travel out of the country will likely not be possible (or if so, will be much more expensive).

Can I still apply for Nicaragua?

Absolutely! Like was outlined above, we are excited for a semester here for Spring 2021 and are hopeful things will remain the same or improve for future semesters. If you’re considering traveling later in 2021 or even 2022, now is a great time to start your application for those semesters as well. 

We’ve been in contact on a local level to help us paint a picture of what volunteering and teaching there will be like and are so excited for volunteers to get back to 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. We’re anticipating 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.