If I could pick one place to go to in the next year it would be Nicaragua. It's a lost land that has previously been dismissed by many travellers. Nicaragua is the least visited nation in this region even though it's the largest country in the Central American isthmus with a population of just under six million people.
Its lack of visitors is mainly due to years of political unrest and a fair few earthquakes causing destruction. It's for this reason I want to go there, because Nicaragua has been preserved and not spoilt by mass tourism. It's actually a very peaceful place now and the damaged buildings have been gradually rebuilt and restored.
I am not going to delay my visit for too long as this place is definitely up and coming. It's being labelled as the next big thing and I want to get there before the crowds do. I want to see the unspoilt scenery, canoe across the lakes and zoom down a volcano on a skateboard.
I love to test my nerve and athletic abilities while travelling around the world which is another reason why Nicaragua is perfect for me. There are plenty of very unique and thrilling activities, volcanic boarding being the one I want to try the most. I have done sand boarding before in the sand dunes of Dubai, but volcanic boarding is on another level. It's the ideal activity for thrill seekers and those who love a bit of action on their travels.
You have to hike up to the top to experience this one-of-a-kind activity, taking in the breathtaking views as you get towards the crater. They say you can reach speeds of up to 50 miles (80km) per hour as you glide over the black volcanic sands. Using only a toboggan-type board you have to be brave enough to launch yourself down the steep slopes. I imagine afterwards I would be sitting at the bottom of a mighty volcano, covered in volcanic dust, reflecting on an experience I would never forget.
Another thing I would like to do in Nicaragua is to go hiking on the numerous volcanic trails. I've heard views from the Masaya Volcano's active crater are stunning. Other activities that particularly appeal to me in Nicaragua include kayaking over the crater lakes and the ridiculously fast zip wires.
You can also go surfing in San Juan Del Sur, a hotspot for backpackers and surfers. Here you can hit the waves and relax on a beach surrounded by beautiful volcanic hills. However, it does get quite busy in this area so I doubt I would spend more than a day or so here before I needed to go off the beaten track.
Unspoilt beaches and colonial cities
When it comes to beaches in Nicaragua I would probably be tempted to go to the Corn Islands. Though they are particularly difficult to get to, (you have to get a ferry or fly if you want to go to Big Corn and then get another boat to Little Corn) I feel they would definitely deserve a trip. Located just of the Caribbean coast, they are the definition of unspoilt beaches; I would like to try deep sea fishing in a gorgeous stretch of ocean. Plus there's the nature trail where you can spot some of the animals that live on the island. The beaches of the Corn Islands are a world away from the busy shores of San Juan Del Sur.
There are also a few cities and towns I would like to stop off at in Nicaragua. The capital is Managua; a mesmerising city with a mix of different cultural influences. Nicaragua is a multiethnic country and Managua is home to some indigenous tribes, Europeans, Asians and Africans but the main language here is Spanish.
I can see myself meandering through the city taking pictures of the fascinating buildings including the iconic Catedral Vieja which was damaged by an earthquake. I would also have to pay Parque Historico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa a visit. This is a national historic park where you can see one of the cities most famous landmarks; Sandino's somber silhouette. To get around in Nicaragua you have to hop on tuk tuks and rickshaws, hail a cab or if you are really lucky take a ride on one of the infamous "chicken buses".
The architecture in the cities is very much colonial, which is why the perfectly preserved colonial city of Granada would also be on my list of cities to visit. Here you can really get a taste of the local architecture and traditions as it is one of the oldest and most picturesque towns in this area. The houses, hotels and cultural buildings are a rainbow of colonial colour.
As you can see this unusual destination clearly deserves a place on every traveller's bucket list. I am very much looking forward to uncovering the magic of Nicaragua by myself; all I need to do now is book my flights.