The country code for Nicaragua is 505, which you use only when dialing from outside the country. Telephone numbers in this guidek include it because most businesses' published phone numbers include the prefix.
- To place a call from your home country to Nicaragua: Dial the international access code (011 in the U.S., 0011 in Australia, 0170 in New Zealand, 00 in the U.K.) plus the country code (505), the city or region's area code, and the local number.
- To make long-distance calls within Nicaragua: Dial a 0 before the seven-digit number.
- To place an international call from Nicaragua: Add 00 before the country code.
- To call an operator: Dial tel. 113 for directory assistance. Dial tel. 110 for long-distance assistance. Dial tel. 116 to make collect calls to the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada.
- To make an emergency call: Dial tel. 118 for police help, dial tel. 115-06-120 to report a fire, and tel. 128 for the Red Cross.
New Numbers in Nicaragua -- In 2009, all Nicaraguan telephone numbers increased from seven to eight digits with the addition of the number "2" before all fixed lines (numbers that previously began with 2, 3, 5, and 7) and the number "8" before all cellphone numbers (numbers that previously began with 4, 6, 8, or 9). Telephone numbers have been updated in this guide, but you may come across the old seven-digit system in flyers and brochures when you travel around the country.
ENITEL (www.claro.com.ni), the national telephone company in Nicaragua, was privatized in 2011 and is now owned by Claro. It has call centers dotted around the country in every major town. There are also ENITEL and PUBLITEL phone booths, operated by phone cards that can be bought at most corner stores and service stations.
The cellphone networks are Movistar and Claro. Claro is reputed to have the best overall reception. You will need to buy a new chip on arrival if you wish to bring your own phone; or better and more reliable, but more expensive, is to arrange a roaming facility with your phone company before your trip. The roaming service can cost anywhere between $1 and $4 a minute, while a new chip costs $35. Whichever you decide, consult with your provider beforehand, as many a traveler has found his phone still useless with a new chip; it has something to do with different bands in different countries and not all phones being compatible.
Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased in the airport or any high street, the cheapest of which cost $60. Make sure to ask if the phone can take international calls and how much this costs, as packages vary and can be restrictively expensive. It's also important to ask how long your credit is valid for; this can vary from 15 to 60 days. Usually, the more credit you buy, the longer the validity. Local calls vary from 10¢ to 50¢ a minute. Look out for promotions such as free incoming calls and cheap international calls for 10¢ a minute with certain networks.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Your best, cheapest bet for making international calls is to head to an Internet cafe. The vast majority have an international calling system called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which most of us know as Skype. These cafes are easily spotted because they have headphones attached to each computer (and often a loud foreigner shouting down a microphone). International calls made this way can range anywhere from free to $1 per minute -- much cheaper than making direct international calls or using a phone card. If you have your own Skype or similar account, you just need to find one of the many Internet cafes in Nicaragua and El Salvador that provide the service. To open an account is easy -- just go to www.skype.com and follow the instructions. If you are calling another Skype user, the call is free.
Internet & E-mail
With Your Own Computer -- Wi-Fi is pretty much in every establishment that deals with tourists in Nicaragua. Hotels, cafes, and retailers are signing on as "hot spots," meaning you can access the Internet from your own wireless-enabled laptop. Most places don't charge, though it is best to check with your hotel. Wireless Internet in Spanish is known as internet inalámbrico. Mac owners have their own networking technology: Apple AirPort. iPass providers (www.ipass.com) also give you access to a few hundred wireless hotel lobby setups. To locate other hot spots that provide free wireless networks in cities around the world, go to www.personaltelco.net/index.cgi/WirelessCommunities or www.jiwire.com, which holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hotspots.
For dial-up access, most business-class hotels throughout Central America offer dataports for laptop modems.
Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.
Without Your Own Computer -- Every self-respecting hotel or youth hostel nowadays has at least one computer you can access the Internet on, and many provide at least 15 minutes free. There are also plenty of cybercafes in every Nicaraguan town and city center. When entering an Internet cafe, ask for una máquina and the assistant will direct you to an available computer. Charges vary between C30 and C40 an hour.
If you need to access files on your office computer while you're on the road, look into GoToMyPC (www.gotomypc.com). The service provides a Web-based interface for you to access and manipulate a distant PC from anywhere -- even a cybercafe -- provided your "target" PC is on and has an always-on connection to the Internet (such as with Road Runner cable). The service offers top-quality security, but if you're worried about hackers, use your own laptop rather than a cybercafe's computer to access the GoToMyPC system.