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adventure travel trip to Nicaragua
The charm of Granada meets the coast of Lake Nicaragua.
  • Apr 5-15, 2015
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 11 days
    Group Size 2-10
    Land Cost $2,990
    Single Supplement $475
    Lodging 2 stars-4 stars
    Grade I
    Best Time

    Grand and Gracious Nicaragua

    Nature, history, culture and cuisine of highlands, islands and haciendas

    Day 1      Managua arrival

    Arrive at the international airport in Managua, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your convenient wi-fi equipped hotel.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Camino Real

    Nicaragua's national bird is the turquoise-browed mot mot
    Day 2      Managua / Leon

    North of Managua is the colonial city of Leon. Known for cultural and historical sites, enjoy a nice walking tour this afternoon. With an authentic atmosphere, you'll be able to easily connect with the locals as you explore the narrow colonial streets and architecture, art galleries, museums, restaurants and cafés. 

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Hotel El Convento

    Day 3      Juan Venado Island Nature Reserve

    Juan Venado Natural Reserve is an impressive mangrove sanctuary, and a well kept secret among tourists. Situated 25 minutes from the Colonial city of Leon this area is well-known as a vital coastal wetland region and includes known turtle nesting grounds, a bird nesting region and a nature rich region of the Nicaragua. Separating the coast from the island is an ecologically important mangrove forest or swamp. This marvelous biological zone provides the ideal home for an abundance of animal life - particularly marine creatures. The edge of the Juan Venado Island that faces into the Pacific Ocean possesses a fine estuary and is also a vital nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles. These amazing reptiles come to the small island every year between August and December to lay their eggs. The estuary of Isla Juan Venado is itself home to a diversity of organisms including water birds, Caymans, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and more. Bird watching enthusiasts will find the island a real treat as it is home to 106 bird species. Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve has no people residing in it, so you are guaranteed complete peace and tranquility in beautiful natural surroundings. We will transfer you from your hotel in León to the Pacific bay of Las Peñitas where you will board a motorboat towards the island. Lined with mangrove forest between the island and coast, our captain will find the perfect route through the curvy waterway to the secluded Pacific beach side of the island. Here we will take you for a walk and if you like, have a refreshing dive into the Pacific Ocean (so don't forget your swimming suit!).

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Hotel El Convento

    Day 4      Matagalpa

    After breakfast, you will head for the cool hills of Matagalpa. Matagalpa was once an indigenous village that was referred to as "the pearl of the north." Situated in a narrow valley in the green mountainous north of Nicaragua, it forms the heart of the Nicaraguan coffee production and has a fresh climate that most Nicaraguans characterize as "cold."

    The Spaniards arrived in Matagalpa in 1528 in search of a water passage to the Caribbean Sea. In 1840, gold was discovered in the region, attracting Spaniards, Mestizos, Germans, Americans, and British to the region.

    The city of Matagalpa and the surrounding area has always played a significant role in Nicaraguan history, but above all, the region has a lot to offer those who love being in touch with nature, enjoying vast landscapes, and spectacular flora and fauna. You can expect beautiful lodges, hiking and nature, organic and fair trade coffee farms, and genuine interaction with local  communities.

    You will be the guest on a model coffee farm which also serves as a beautiful ecolodge.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Hotel Selva Negra

    Welcome to Matagalpa
    Day 5      Peñas Blancas Massif

    Encounter crystal clear rivers, water wells, large and small waterfalls, giant trees, and a wide variety of tropical plants as you make your way through the Peñas Blancas Massif Reserve this morning. The fog that seems to be ever present, adds mystery to this magical place. The reserve is inhabited by pumas, jaguars, ocelots, wild boars, deer, paca ́s, sloths, monkeys and birds such as hummingbirds, wranglers and the rare resplendant quetzals.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Hotel Selva Negra

    Walk the green hills of coffee country
    Day 6      El Chile village

    Following breakfast, you will transfer to the indigenous community of El Chile for a tour of the village. El Chile is widely known for its woven crafts the local women produce, including bags, purses and backpacks. After enjoying a little workshop and having lunch with a local family, hike up the El Chile hill for an impressive panoramic view of the surrounding area.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Hotel Selva Negra

    Day 7      Matagalpa / Masaya Volcano / Granada

    Today you will transfer to Nicaragua's most beautiful city, Granada. Along the way, stop at the Masaya Volcano, located in Nicaragua's first and largest national park. The Masaya Volcano is a shallow shield volcano composed of balsatic leaves and tephras. It is comprised of material that is over 2,500 years old.

    After visiting the volcano, continue on to Granada. Granada was founded in 1524 and is believed to be the second oldest city established in mainland Latin America by the Spanish conquest. The city is characterized by its brightly-colored Spanish-colonial architecure. Take a city tour via horse-drawn carriage to get a sense of the rich history and lively atmosphere.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Hotel Plaza Colon

    Masaya Volcano
    Day 8      Granada

    After breakfast, your guide introduces you to Granada's architecturally charming and colorful city center, its lakeshore on Lago Nicaragua, and the old town with fortress and ancient city walls. It's hard to imagine a lovelier, more gracious, town. Tour partly by horse-drawn carriage and partly on foot. (The carriages are not an invention to charm toursits, but reflect a traditional mode of transportation in rural Nicaragua.) Visit San Francisco Church and convent, built in 1529, now museums with an impressive collection of pre-Columbian art. At Merced Church, you will have the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower and take in spectacular views of the city, Lake Nicaragua, and the Mombacho Volcano.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Hotel Plaza Colon

    Granada offers artistic charm and rich history.
    Day 9      Mombacho Volcano or Pueblos Blancos

    Today you will have the choice between two tours: visiting the Pueblos Blancos (white towns), famous for their artisanry, or going to Mombacho for a crater walk among lush tropical forest.

    If you choose to visit the Pueblos Blancos, depart from the hotel early in the morning for the town of Masaya and its handicrafts market where you will see various forms of traditional Nicaraguan artwork from pottery to leather goods and textiles. Enjoy lunch in another of the quaint towns, Catarina, known for its spectacular location  overlooking the huge crater lake of Apoyo as well as for its cottage industry of family-owned flower nurseries. After lunch, visit what is perhaps the most important artisanal town in the country, San Juan de Oriente, famous for its ceramics. Nicaraguan pottery has a tradition dating back thousands of years. The designs combine etching and deeply hued glazes for an effect that is unique to Nicaragua.

    Alternatively, you may choose the hike at Mombacho.  Drive to the top of the volcano in a 4x4 vehicle, visit the scientific station, and walk the well-kept Crater Trail (1.5 km) through rich cloud forest. Stop at some fumaroles and note the escaping gasses. Enjoy breath-taking views overlooking Granada, Las Isletas, Laguna de Apoyo and the Masaya Volcano. Keep an eye out for the howler and white face monkeys, as well as the endemic Mombacho salamander, found nowhere else in the world.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Hotel Plaza Colon

    In Santa Catarina, one of the Pueblos Blancos, note the charming small home-based nurseries.
    Day 10      Las Isletas / Jicaro Island

    Today travel by motor launch on Lake Nicaragua through the archipelago known as Las Isletas to your unique small ecolodge. The 365 small volcanic islands, located only 3 kilometers from Granada, were created when Volcano Mombacho erupted approximately 1.5 million years ago. Many of the islands are home to just one or two families who make their living from fishing.  Monkey Island is a sanctuary for monkeys previously held as pets but now released back into the wild.

    Jicaro Island Ecolodge holds itself to the highest standards of environmental responsibility and also to impeccable standards for client service. The nine guest rooms are set into the landscape with minimum disruption. Private balconies, as well as verandas designed as common space, are perfect for watching the waterbirds, the human acitvity on the lake, and the magnificent sunsets. Food is wonderfully prepared with locally available ingredients. Guests and staff alike feel privileged to be in this remarkable place.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Jicaro Island Ecolodge

    Comfortable rooms with verandas are up in the treetops, overlooking the lake.
    Day 11      Granada / Onward

    Depart Jicaro by boat in time to visit the Pedro Nelli school on a nearby island. The school, with support from Jicaro Lodge, has become a model of community involvement. Continue by boat to Granada, to continue your stay in Nicaragua or transfer to the airport for your homeward flight.

    Meals: Breakfast

    The view of Las Isletas from Jicaro

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