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  #1  
Old 22 Nov 2010
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Exclamation Nicaragua - Costa Rica border crossings??

Folks, if any of ye know of the border crossings between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, I could really do with a quick answer to this. Basically, I need to know if it's possible to cross between San Carlos (on Lago Nicaragua), and Los Chiles, on the Costa Rican side. I had made a plan to take this crossing, but just read in my guidebook that it's a river crossing, in small little crappy boats. Not for bikes. It says there is a road between the two, but you need special permission to use this. I'm guessing it's military or something of that nature. Anyway, the ferry on Lago Nicaragua to San Carlos goes tomorrow, and there's not another one for a few days, so I need to find out ASAP if it's possible to cross this border (as in get permission to use the road), or I won't take that ferry. I don't have time to take the long road around to San Carlos, or take it back if I can't use that border crossing.
Has anyone taken this route at all? Any info would be much appreciated!
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Old 22 Nov 2010
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The short answer is yes.

Someone crossed at San Carlos on a Dakar coming south from Nicaragua last month and posted on either this site or ADVriders.com in the latin america section. His only problem was getting the mandatory Costa Rica insurance. He had to leave his bike at the Costa Rica border and take a bus to get insurance in a town south of Los Chiles I seem to recall, since they didn't sell insurance at the border shack or in Los Chiles. He came around the lake instead of taking the ferry across the lake and said it was no problem. He just mentioned a ferry across one river. No canoes or anything.

I have been to that border crossing to check it out when I was riding around northern Costa Rica a few years ago, and the laid back border guards at the migracion shack said I couldn't go check out San Carlos and Lago Nicaragua on a rental bike so I turned around and rode back south. It was a decent gravel road and the border guards said that the road to San Carlos was just a few kilometers over the hill and down to the lake. It is a really remote outpost in the middle of nowhere. My kind of border crossing. Have fun!

P.S. found the link: Board Crossing In Costa Rica. - ADVrider
his post is at the bottom with the deets.

Best,
John Downs
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  #3  
Old 22 Nov 2010
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Wow, full marks to you there John, fair play. I had already wrote off this route, didn't think I'd get any answer back in time to catch that ferry tomorrow, but there you go, ask and you shall receive. It is exactly my sort of border crossing as well, and it will keep me away from that truck infested Pan-Am, so all good. I will put a posting up of my experience of the crossing when I'm done.
Cheers again!!!!!
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Old 31 Jan 2011
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please post, I am taking this border as well, especially want to knoow about the insurance hassle
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Old 31 Jan 2011
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What would you like to know about the insurance? I crossed that way this last Fall. Not really a hassle, everything went smooth just had to take a nice bus ride to get the insurance.
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Old 3 Feb 2011
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No bus rides needed for insurance. The compulsory insurance for Nicaragua and for Costa rica is sold right at the border terminals and they will gladly point you to the sales clerk. Price is good.No entry allowed without it.
Same for Belize .And now Panama too has joined the enlightened countries who sell the liability insurance to travellers at the border as a condition for entry.Just make it a point to show up early in the day so you do not run into the case where the insurance seller may have decided to call it a day
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Old 3 Feb 2011
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They have a place to buy insurance in Los Chiles, Costa Rica? If so, they must have just got it in the last few months
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Old 9 Feb 2011
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Right folks, here is my belated report on the Los Chiles border crossing between San Carlos, Nicaragua, & Costa Rica.
I was in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, just 40km's from Costa Rica by the Pan-Am...but it being near the end of my trip I decided that was too easy, so I said I'd take the long way around. I had the option of driving back around the lake on the Juigalpa to San Carlos road, but I heard it was a bad road and near impassable after heavy rains. It had been raining heavy recently, and I wasn't in the mood for slipping in mud, so I drove to nearby San Jorge, where I caught a ferry to Isla Omotepe. Didn't take long, 45mins, cost about 90 cordobas ($4).
It being well rainy there and the fact that the ferry from Omotepe only left twice a week (Tuesdays & Thursdays...6.30 pm, at Altagracia), so I just took a tour through the island to catch my ferry (bank machines in the first main town only take Visa...). I was there a few hours early, ended up having an argument with the workers, they wanted me to dump all my fuel before I got on the boat...I had just filled up and didn't want to...eventually they won the argument. Boat came, it was dark and getting stormy. It was NOT a ferry. It was a regular passenger boat with a cargo hold below, apparently this is all it ever is, although a brochure says it can take vehicles. Anyway, a very nervous me and a few crew manhandled it up the gangway onto the boat, nearly dropping it in the water only once......
Overnight ferry to San Carlos, floor sleeping space only, was fine.
Arrived in San Carlos the next morning at I think 7. There is a Spanish castle upriver to visit but I went first to check out the boats to Los Chiles in Costa Rica (There is a road but it is only for military use at the moment. There is talk of opening in the future, but it's apparently been going on for the last few years....). They told me at customs I'd have to wait until a suitable boat came to take me & bike across. I saw what they meant when I saw the present passenger boat waiting...it was tiny...sitting room only. Talking to the captain of that boat he swore he could take my bike, I wasn't having a word of it. He told me the next day (Thursday) there would be two larger boats coming, the smaller in the morning (11.30), and a larger one later at 2.00. I settled in and waited until the next day, but it's an interesting little town anyway.
Next morning I saw the boat and said I'd take my chances (don't know what I was thinking). Loaded the bike up on the prow of a pretty damn small passenger boat and made for the border of Costa Rica (US$45 for me and bike). It was a very long hour. Got the bike off no bother on the other side with help.
In Los Chiles on the Costa Rican side there is NO company selling insurance. They think some time in the future, but not yet. That is as of late November 2010. You must take a bus 100km's to a town called Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos) to get insurance. The guy in customs in Los Chiles can give you any information required there. I got back to Los Chiles from San Carlos at about 9pm that night, too late to get the bike in through customs, but they have it locked up very safely for you anyway. On a side note, that town has some gorgeous women, worth an extra night stay anyway for that reason alone I'd think.........
All officials were quite friendly and helpful there. If you have the time on your hands it is a fairly interesting way of crossing the border, something a bit different.
Hope this has been of some help to someone........
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  #9  
Old 11 Feb 2011
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Hey IronArse,

We will be making the same crossing going the other way in about 10 days. Glad to hear it is doable. We are in Panama City today and heading to Yaviza in the Darrien tomorrow.
Then back to Costa Rica via Bocas Del Toro. Hope to see ya on the road.
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Old 15 Feb 2011
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Hey fredstr, hope you are enjoying yourself down there. As for me, alas, I'm at home now after finishing my trip, plotting and scheming on how to get back out there again. May see you down the line on another road, another day!
Be good, ha!
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Old 7 Mar 2011
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So again, just to make it easier, as the important line is lost in a jumble in my earlier post...
There is NO insurance agent in Los Chiles, Costa Rica, upon entering the country. You must get a bus to Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos) to get insurance before customs will clear your bike. Expect this to eat up a large chunk of your day. It is still a nice crossing.
I'm not sure of the other way around (entering Nicaragua from Costa Rica).
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Old 8 Mar 2011
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I forget if I had to buy insurance on the way down for Nicaragua, seems like I did, I take they are not selling any at the crossing on the North side??

I plan to do this route from South to North later this year, thanks for the information guys!

John in Cartagena for a little while more.
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Old 20 Nov 2012
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Hi guys,

we are 3 guys on 2 motorcycles considering the San Carlos - Los Chilos border crossing going from Nicaragua to Costa Rica in a few days.

We were wondering if now it is possible to buy CR insurance right when you get off the boat or you still need to take the bus all the way to the big city and then come back.
Are there any other news about this crossing?
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