Riding Tips for Nicaragua and Central America

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Riding a motorcycle in Nicaragua is an adventure and as with all adventure there is a certain amount of risk involved. We will not discuss the dangers involved in riding a motorcycle. Instead we will focus on the difference you will find riding a motorcycle in a country such as Canada versus a country such as Nicaragua.

Traffic lights: based on the time of the day and the location the traffic light will carry a different weight on how people interpret it. At night (after 10pm) most local drivers will only slow down on the red. In certain parts of town a red light might be interpreted as a stop sign. Action:  Irrespective of the color of the traffic light make sure to stop if is red and to slow down if it is green. Make sure the other drivers are respecting the traffic light before crossing.

Size matters: it is the un-written law that the bigger vehicle has the right of way. Therefore buses and truck will not hesitate to overtake slow vehicles on curves or when there is oncoming traffic. Bigger vehicles will cut you off and do not be surprise if you are “pushed” off the road. Action:  be ready to make a complete stop and get off the road if you see a bus overtaking another vehicle.

Animals: It is very common to see almost a complete zoo on the roads on Central America.  The most common animals you will find on the roads are: cows, horses, donkeys, chickens, pigs, dogs among others. Animals do not understand the traffic laws and are not rational. Especially young animals will tend to freak out with the sound of the motorcycle and might do a 180 degree turn to jump in front of the bike. Action: Slow down a be ready to do an emergency stop whenever you see an animal.

Open Manholes:  It can be a very scary moment and potentially very dangerous when riding your motorcycle you come across an open manhole. Manhole covers are made of metal which can be sold.  Some poor people will steel them to feed their families, torrential rains might take them away and some just disappear as an act of magic. Action: Now that you aware of this keep an eye out for them.

Barbwire:  Be very careful traveling on remote roads or locations that have little or no traffic (e.g. beach). Some of these roads/locations might have barbwire fences/lines running across the path to keep animals away or to hang cloths. Action:  make sure to ride slowly when you are exploring new routes.

Drunk driving: During national holidays and at night you will definitely encounter a drunk or very drunk driver on the road. Drunk drivers has this notion of being the king of the road and not stopping at traffic lights, driving against traffic, making U-turns in unexpected places and much more. Action:  Try to avoid riding during national holidays and at night.

Driving at night: Driving at night is like playing Russian roulette – you are putting your life at risk. All the dangers above can take place and then become exponentially more dangerous at night. For example, at night it is very difficult to see an open manhole on the road or an animal crossing in front of you. Furthermore, at night is when crime rate goes up and you become a target.  Action: DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT! but if you have to then do not stop even at traffic lights, pay extra attention to the road and stay on main roads.