Hitchhiking in Nicaragua

As a group of backpackers and I were sitting on the bench waiting for a chicken bus to pass, we realized that we might be waiting for hours while sitting in the blistering heat of the Nicaraguan sun. We had just descended back to the local village from our New Years  hike to the Telica Volcano. We were smelly, sweaty, and exhausted and we could not bear the thought of having to endure any more time waiting to return to our hostels to take a shower and rest our aching muscles.

A suggestion was made by one of the backpackers that we should attempt to hitchhike our way back into the city of Leon, which was located about 45 minutes away. Everyone in the group agreed that it would be a good idea, and the search for a ride began. There were around twenty of us backpackers covered in dirt and grime piled onto the sidewalk and underneath the bus stop, and we had difficulty hailing a ride for quite a while because no one seemed to want to stop for us. Finally after about twenty minutes of failing to flag down a ride, one truck finally pulled over, and we all hopped on the back of it thankful that we would finally be able to continue our journey into the city.

Thankful to have a ride back into Leon

Tips for hitchhiking in Nicaragua

Luckily the first time that I ever had to hitchhike in my life happened to be with a large group. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to hitchhike to get from point a to point b in a small group or as a solo traveler, here are some things your should know:

  • Hitchhiking is common in Nicaragua – “Hitchhiking is common in more rural areas and small towns, but not recommended in Managua” (WikiTravel)
  • Make sure your driver is heading in the right direction – this may seem obvious, but you really don’t want to get stuck ending up in a different city/country than you intended
  • Don’t get inside of the vehicle – hop onto the back of the truck/van and do not get inside of the car
  • Tip your driver – gas is expensive in Nicaragua so the polite thing to do is to offer a little bit of cash for the ride. “This money will usually be refused, although the gesture will be appreciated.” (VIVA Travel Guides)

Stories about Hitchhiking in Nicaragua

If you have tips or a story to share about your hitchhiking experience in Nicaragua, feel free to share below! Happy traveling!

By |2014-07-15T19:13:56+00:00January 6th, 2014|Nicaragua|10 Comments


  1. Brittany Jan 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Interesting! Glad you make it a point to go with a group. Even with a group I think I would be a bit nervous. Glad you guys made it to your destination safely.

    • Chanel Jan 6, 2014 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Yes, I am glad my first time was with a group as well 🙂 Thanks for reading Brittany!

  2. Jenny | A Thing For Wor(l)ds Jul 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    I spent a month in Nicaragua when I was 17, but never hitchhiked. I think I would have gotten kicked out of the program I was on, if they found out, haha. That’s really interesting what you say about not getting into the car, though—I never would have known that. If I ever return (and I hope to!) I may try this out instead of being smooshed into those (in)famous old schoolbuses 🙂

    • Chanel Jul 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      It is definitely worth a shot! I did it with a semi-large group of people which made it easier 🙂

  3. Brad Bernard Jul 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    I love this, Chanel. You meet the most interesting people hitchhiking in Central America. I’ve hitchhiked there and dozens of countries and you are right, in rural areas it is what people do and sometimes the only way of getting around. The directions I got from a hostel in Granada went like this, “Take any Managua chicken bus, get off about halfway there, yell the name of the town you want to go and someone will throw you in a car and drive you there. Make sure you give them gas money even if they refuse.” It was seamless, such a carefree lifestyle they have there.

    • Chanel Jul 16, 2014 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Haha that is awesome! I need to check out your hitchhiking stories! 😀

  4. Amber Jul 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    You are so much braver than I am!

  5. Mindi @ 2foodtrippers Jul 17, 2014 at 7:51 am - Reply

    It’s funny how we do things in other things in foreign countries that we would never do at home. I’ve done some crazy things, but I have never hitchhiked. I guess I’ll just have to live this experience vicariously through you.

    • Chanel Jul 18, 2014 at 3:18 am - Reply

      I have only done it with a large group (to date) so it wasn’t too bad 😉

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