This journey takes in many of the cultural, historical and natural highlights of Nicaragua, which are conveniently clustered around the southwest of the country. You will see live volcanoes and dormant ones that are now nature reserves, explore charming colonial Spanish cities, cruise on Lake Nicaragua and visit iconic Ometepe island with its long indigenous history. We also give you the chance to venture north to more untamed areas to try volcano boarding and jungle hikes as well as rolling your own cigars, and further south to relax on wild Pacific beaches.
This is a suggested itinerary. Dates, stops & activities are all flexible.
14 Days: Managua - Leon - Esteli - Masaya - Apoyo - Granada & The Isletas - Mombacho - Ometepe - San Juan Del Sur
Activities: sightseeing and history, local markets, volcano boarding, nature hikes, active volcano, birding, boat trips, wild swimming, beach time
Day 1: Welcome to the stunning land of lakes and volcanoes! You will be met at the airport and taken to your centrally located accommodation in Managua.
Day 2: Drive north along the shores of Lake Managua to the colonial town of Leon, one of the best examples of colonial architecture in Central America. Your guide will take you on a walking tour through the historic part of town to see murals dating back to the revolution, beautiful baroque and neoclassical churches and an art museum with works by internationally renowned artists. Take your first taste of local life exploring the bustling fruit and vegetable market, before ending the tour with remarkable vistas of nearby volcanoes from the cathedral´s picturesque rooftop. (B)
Day 3: Have you ever boarded down an active volcano? Well now’s your chance! An off-road transfer from Leon and a 1 hour hike takes you to the top of the Cerro Negro volcano, alongside your guide who will tell you anything you want to know about this natural marvel. Once at the top, you will get safety instructions and a chance to practise, before starting an incredible unforgettable descent on your specially engineered board. (B)
Day 4: Heading further north into Nicaragua’s revolutionary heartland, you arrive at Esteli. Along the way you will encounter the primal forces of nature at San Jacinto’s boiling volcanic mud fields, which are connected directly to the Telica volcano. In the afternoon, learn more about Esteli’s most famous export, premium cigars, with a trip to a tobacco plantation and factory, where you can watch live cigar making and try rolling your own. (B)
Day 5: Just outside of Esteli lies a lush green nature reserve, Tisey-Le Estanzuela, which boasts the most beautiful natural attractions in the region. You will explore the forest, visiting a 15m high waterfall surrounded by forest and a traditional farm that is home to the highest viewpoint in the reserve (1300m) and panoramic views from Lake Managua to the Pacific volcano chain. (B)
Day 6: It’s back down south today, as you drive to the stunning Apoyo Lagoon. Between Managua and Apoyo you will have the rare chance to gaze into an active volcano, where molten lava flows, bubbles and spits steam that rises to meet your viewing platform. Then continue on to Masaya’s colorful artisan market known for its hammock and ceramics.
Your final stop is Apoyo Lagoon, an impressive dormant cone that last erupted about 20,000 years ago and has been filling with fresh water ever since. The interior, where tropical dry forest meets the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon, is a nature reserve home to more than 225 species of birds, as well as mammals and endemic species of fish. (B/L/D)
Day 7: A guided hike through the forest that surrounds Apoyo Lagoon is a magnificent way to experience Nicaragua’s tropical flora and fauna. To see as many birds as possible, an early start is recommended and on your hike you may spot hummingbirds, golden orioles, toucans, and falcons. Keep an eye out too for howler- and white-faced monkeys, iguanas and the beautiful blue morpho butterfly. (B/D)
Day 8: Granada or the ‘Gran Sultana’ is one of Latin America's most beautiful colonial cities. Founded in 1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, it is full of history and charm and famed as one of the oldest European settlements in the western hemisphere. Spend the morning walking the cobbled streets as your knowledgeable guide reveals the stories of this unique place.
After lunch head out to las Isletas, found where the foothills of Mombacho volcano meet the calm waters of Lake Nicaragua. Here you will cruise through an archipelago of small forest-covered islands, formed by a volcanic eruption over twenty thousand years ago. (B)
Day 9: Today you will visit a rare and special habitat - a cloud forest on top of a volcano! Mombacho volcano nature reserve is home to a huge array of flowers and wildlife and boasts incredible views over Las Isletas, Grenada and all the way back to Masaya Volcano. If you're lucky you may see howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys, sloths, dart frogs and the endemic Mombacho salamander. (B)
Day 10: Take the ferry across lake Nicaragua to extraordinary Ometepe island, home for centuries to indigenous cultures that left many pre-Columbian petroglyphs. Ometepe's two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, rise dramatically out of the water to create the island's iconic silhouette. (B)
Day 11: Spend the day exploring the island and visit two highlights - first Finca Magdalena, a working community-run coffee plantation that is also home to indigenous rock paintings, then Charco Verde Nature Reserve and Chico Largo lagoon, mystical places that inspired local legend. Continue to the natural spring of Ojo de Agua, hidden in the forest, for a refreshing swim before finishing the day at the fascinating El Ceibo museum, which boast many well-conserved indigenous statues and ceramics. (B/L)
Day 12: This morning, take the ferry back to the mainland and a short drive to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. Once a quiet fishing village, San Juan has become one of the country's most popular beach destinations but fortunately the town has maintained its charm and laid back atmosphere. It's a great place for surfing, snorkeling and sailing and is very close to La Flor beach and wildlife reserve if you want to experience sea turtles hatching. (B)
Day 13: Day at leisure to do whatever you like! (B)
Day 14: Sadly all good things come to an end as you head back to Managua airport for your return flight, leaving Nicaragua with lots of amazing memories and photos! (B)
Prices from: £1995 per person
Services included: hotels on shared room basis, meals, transfers and activities as mentioned, entry fees, English speaking guide, 24 hour assistance
Services not included: flights, drinks, tips and personal expenses.
Note: stops can be extended, added or cut - just ask us!