This 2 week trip is a real treat for adventure lovers, as you immerse yourself in the dramatic landscapes of the ‘land of lakes and volcanoes’, as Nicaragua is known. There are certainly plenty of volcanoes to explore, both active and dormant ones that are havens for birds and wildlife, as well as great places to hike. We’ll help you get the most from this natural playground with whitewater rafting, staying at a biological station deep in the jungle, wild swimming, canyoning, camping and even volcano boarding. Throw in some of the best-preserved colonial cities in Latin America and we think this is one adventure you won’t forget in a hurry.
This is a suggested itinerary. Dates, stops & activities are all flexible.
14 Days: Apoyo - Ometepe - Granada & Las Isletas - Mombacho - Penas Blancas Massif - Somoto Canyon - Esteli - Leon
Activities: wildlife walks, coffee, wild swimming, volcano hikes, birding, colonial towns, kayaking, whitewater rafting, waterfalls, rappelling, camping, local family visit, volcano boarding
Day 1: Welcome to the stunning land of lakes and volcanoes! You will be met in arrivals and immediately drive south to Apoyo Lagoon Nature Reserve, situated in an impressive dormant volcano 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, mammals and endemic species of fish.
Day 2: 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.
Continue to Masaya Volcano National Park, one of the most exciting volcanoes in the west of Nicaragua due to its constant activity. It offers the unique experience of observing an active volcano up close, watching as boiling lava flows just a short distance below inside the volcano crater. (B)
Day 3: The island of Ometepe is situated in one of the world´s largest fresh water lakes, Lake Nicaragua and was 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.
After dropping your bags, your outdoor adventure starts at the Peña Inculta reserve where lava rocks are overgrown with primary forest and you can see monkeys, iguanas, bats and many birds. Walk around the reserve for around 45 minutes, then head to Hacienda Finca Magdalena, a community-run farm founded in 1888 where you will get an insight into organic coffee cultivation and visit a site with remnants of pre-Columbian times. Your last stop is a refreshing swim at Ojo de Agua, a pristine natural spring surrounded by dense forest. (B)
Day 4: Today it's time for your first volcano hike! An early morning pick up takes you back towards Finca Magdalena, where the hike to the dormant Maderas volcano begins. The climb is quite steep and difficult, but the trail is well-kept and the stunning views over the crater lake across the island and beyond is worth the effort. (B/L)
Day 5: 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.
After you have settled in to your hotel, it's time to get ready for your kayaking adventure. As you navigate through the calm waters with your guide, passing local fishing communities and observing daily life on the lake, be sure to look out for many species of birds and other wildlife that inhabit the lake and its surroundings. (B)
Day 6: 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. Drive to the top of the volcano (1150m) in a 4x4 vehicle, then after a quick trip to the scientific station wind your way with your guide along the Puma Trail, one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes on Mombacho. In the afternoon relax or explore Granada at your own pace. (B)
Day 7: Early transfer to Matagalpa to enjoy an amazing 15km of white water rafting that takes around 5 hours. The rapids are classified 2-3 and 4, offering a perfect mix of exciting white water with plenty of opportunities to admire the forests and wildlife along the way. Afterwards head on to El Cua, a small town in the Penas Blancas Massif in northern Nicaragua. The region is known for its cooler temperatures, mountains and abundant vegetation which you will experience to the full as you are staying in basic accommodation at a biological station deep in the forest! (B/L/D)
Day 8: You will take a hike in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, part of the largest protected area in Latin America. Along the way you will encounter crystal clear rivers, waterfalls large and small, giant ancient trees and a wide variety of tropical flowers, while the fog that seems to be ever present adds mystery to this magical place. It's also a great place to look for animals as the reserve is inhabited by pumas, jaguars, ocelots, wild boars, pacas, sloths and monkeys. (B/L/D)
Day 9: Today it's time for a camping adventure in a beautiful and pristine area. Transfer to Somoto, whose main attraction is a stunning 4km canyon just outside the city, known as Namancambre. Starting with rappelling down a 30m high cliff while admiring the views of the canyon beneath, you'll spend the day exploring along one of the longest rivers in Latin America by swimming, walking and rock climbing. In the afternoon you'll reach your campsite, located by a viewpoint overlooking Honduras' landscape and perfect for catching the sunset and sunrise. A delicious Nicaraguan meal will be prepared by a local chef, before you enjoy a campfire to finish the day. (B/L/D)
Day 10: After breakfast make your way out of the canyon and back to civilisation as you drive on to Esteli, where the rest of the day is free. Esteli is far from the tourist trail and is rich in history - it used to be a refuge for Cuban cigar makers and you can witness this cultural heritage with a trip to a tobacco plantation and factory, to watch live cigar making and try rolling your own. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Today starts with an encounter with the primal forces of nature at San Jacinto’s boiling volcanic mud fields, which are connected directly to the Telica volcano. Then head to a local home where you'll learn to make the traditional staple tortilla on a woodstove and continue to the historic colonial town of Leon. (B)
Day 12: Your adventure in Nicaragua finishes with a bang as you take on boarding down an active volcano! An off-road transfer from Leon and a 1 hour hike takes you to the top of the Cerro Negro volcano. 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. After a tasty lunch in the nature reserve, hike on to El Hoyo volcano, where the campsite will be ready for dinner. (B/L/D)
Day 13: Next morning, hike down the volcano towards Asososca Lagoon, known as El Tigre, to swim and relax before returning to Leon. The rest of the day is free to explore the city, one of the best examples of colonial architecture in the region. (B)
Day 14: Sadly all good things come to an end… today it’s time to pack up and head to Managua airport for your onwards flight, leaving Nicaragua with lots of amazing memories and photos! (B)
Prices from: £2040 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!