Our original plan had never included Honduras as a stop partly because the only places that seemed of interest to us where on the Caribbean side whereas we wanted to follow the Pacific, and also due to not having found a single article about how lovely a country it was. Unfortunately the stories, posts and advice that came out of Honduras convinced us to just transit through and continue to Nicaragua.
Our first stop in Nicaragua was going to be Leon so we decided to make the crossing on an international bus. We knew of 2 companies who offered this service – Ticabus and Pullmantur, or so we thought. We had originally come into El Salvador with Pullmantur and assumed the terminal we had been dropped off would offer us onward travel with them.
This would not be case, apparently Pullmantur did not operate from the Puerto Bus terminal, but luckily a company called King Quality did. After comparing prices on their websites and seeing that they all offered the same service we opted for the cheaper and more convenient one; King Quality.
The bus would leave San Salvador at 3am and take about 9 hours to reach Nicaragua. Feeling very bleary eyed we boarded the bus at 2.45am and managed to get a few hours sleep before arriving at the first of several crossings for the day.
The bus itself was a regular coach with reclining seats but the supposed air con did not seem to be operational during the journey. We were given a couple of drinks on board but you would need bring your own water to survive the long journey in the heat.
Our first stop was the exit from San Salvador. We did not leave the bus for any of the border crossings except the arrival into Nicaragua. When we arrived at the first border we simply handed over our passports to the bus attendant and waited for him to return with them.
We did not receive any stamps from El Salvador either on entry or exit, when I asked why they explained that as we had come in from Guatemala we did not need them as they could see our entry date.
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have a treaty among them, a sort of EU thing were you have 90 days as a tourist to travel through the 4 countries. If you need more time you have to leave these countries, get stamped out and then come back in for a further 90 days.
Our entry and exit from Honduras was done in a similar manner with our passports and fees collected by the attendant and later returned, however for some strange reason they did stamp them in and out. For our crossings through Honduras we also had security officers board the bus and check our passports again briefly.
There were no exit fees for the countries but entry fees were $3 per person for Honduras and $13 per person for Nicaragua.
Our entry into Nicaragua was also very easy, our fees and passports were dealt with in the same manner as with Honduras, the only difference was a disembarkation. We took our backpacks and joined the customs queue, however when it was our turn the officer simply took the immigration form from us and waved us through back to the bus, no questions, no searches. By far our easiest customs!
Our almost perfect bus journey was brought to a sudden halt when we were all called through a second check point and had to disembark yet again to have a police officer view our passports while in a line up. This would have been fine except for the fact that it transcribed that a passenger had somehow managed to get through Honduras but no longer have his passport with him.
This confusion continued for the better part of an hour while being left in a bus with no air con in the midday sun, we were literally melting away by the time it was decided that the young guy would have to return to El Salvador to see what happened.
After 10 hours of travelling we eventually reached our stop for the oven hot city that is Leon at the perfect time of 1pm.
As a note if you are thinking of stopping in Leon be warned that the bus does not take you into the city but leaves you at a petrol station on the outskirts of town. From here you need to take a taxi into the city for a couple of dollars or around 50 cordobas. If you have small notes they will accept dollars so don’t worry if you don’t have local currency.