One of the bigger challenges in Central America can be to cross borders. Long-distance buses from one big city to another usually do the trick, but what if you want to travel from Nicaragua to Monteverde rain forest in Costa Rica?
But… it can be a bit expensive, it’s not very adventurous, and when you miss the bus you’re screwed. So from Rivas and San Juan del Sur there is another way, which is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Even I managed, so here goes:
Step 1: take the chicken bus to the border
The central bus station in Rivas is a bit of a mess. But just ask for the bus to the border, and once it fills up you are on your way. Make sure to have your luggage in your vicinity. It will take around an hour (and a nice road along the windmills along lake Nicaragua) before you reach the Penas Blancas crossing.
If you start in San Juan del Sur, take a chicken bus towards Rivas. You can exit at La Virgen, which is the T-shaped crossing with the main road. From there you hop onto the chicken bus coming from Rivas. It is probably better to go to Rivas though, because the bus fills up there and leaves hardly any room for other people at La Virgen.
It’s wise to be leave Rivas between 8-8.30am. This gives you plenty of time for the bottlenecks later on.
Step 2: cross the border at Penas Blancas
Step 3: take the bus to La Irma
Step 4: the bus to Monteverde
Alright, buckle up. The last two hours are beautiful, but lead you over bumpy dirt roads towards awesome vistas… for around two hours. You are probably going to stay in Santa Elena, the village closest to Monteverde cloud forest. As this is a pretty touristy place, especially once you got used to Nicaragua, it is a good idea to book beforehand.
And that’s it! This trip will only set you back a couple of dollars (excluding customs), and is a pretty bad-ass adventure!