Back country route to San Juan del Sur

After taking full advantage of every one of our six days on Ometepe, Eric and I headed to San Jorge to continue our adventures zig-zagging a long the Pacific side of Nicaragua down dirt roads, footpaths and immensely arduous cattle / horse tracks that were far harder than we anticipated. (Written from Costa Rica)


Heading towards the coast from Rivas we decided to search for a back route to Popoyo. From Tola we cut right to Nancimi asking locals on the way if it was possible to get to Popoyo that way.  Yes, they said, but only by foot or horse. In the spirit of the trip and the strong urge to do things that people say you can’t do, we pressed forward. The ascent was a few kilometers and was indeed, almost immediately, impossible on bicycle due to the steep and rough terrain. Hauling our loaded bicycles (mine ~40kg) for 75% of the trail was tough work and it was a relief to reach the top .


Short sections of singletrack occasionally appeared, but 75% was unrideable…


…even on the downhill.  But the countryside and the sense of being off the beaten track, without 16 wheelers hurtling past, more than made up for it.


The route joined a river that was rideable in parts, before linking up to a fun dirt road and then the main dirt highway that connects the southern beaches of Nicaragua


Traffic on the road to Popoyo. (Popoyo is a reasonably popular world class surf spot where we had a day off before trying to find a back route to San Juan del Sur)


Popoyo to San Juan del Sur would normally involve backtracking inland to Rivas but we opted to hug the coast and took the turning just after El Coyol. Across the street Eric asked one old couple about the back route. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I saw the old man draw a line under his neck; ‘you’ll die up there’ he implied. After asking a few other people we realised that this might a be slight exaggeration so we proceeded. The first ten kms seemed to be a delightful Nicaraguan back country route with a National Park feel to it: a river crossing, steep arduous forest trail, no people. Then we hit a fence, the terrain was private property for the next 5km. It took 20 minutes of persuading the kid guarding the property and a small pack of biscuits before he let us through.  A very fortunate outcome, the alternative was backtracking and then an extra couple of hours cycling via Rivas.


The bay of San Juan del Sur. Nice place, albeit extremely touristy.

2 thoughts on “Back country route to San Juan del Sur

  1. “It took 20 minutes of persuading the kid guarding the property and a small pack of biscuits before he let us through.”

    Nice work Nick. Totally gonzo. I’m going to have to remember this trick.

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