Nicaragua has been flying under the tourism radar for many years. The country certainly doesn’t have the image of a mass tourism destination, which is true but that makes it all the more appealing.
As is the case with many Central American countries, and Nicaragua is no different, the past still plays a major part in how the country is perceived today.
- Spanish colonial towns of Leon and Granada, some of the oldest on the American continent.
- Beautiful beaches on both the Pacific and the Caribbean coast.
- Lake Managua, the largest lake in Central America.
- Volcanoes all along the Pacific coast, some even very active.
- Jungle and nature reserves along the San Juan River which is the natural border with Costa Rica.
- Coffee region in the northern part of the country.
Arrival at the international airport in Managua.
Transfer to your hotel.
Managua – Leon Viejo – Leon
After breakfast we explore the downtown area of Managua.
We start at the Presidential Palace, Lake Managua Waterfront, Old Cathedral, modern Metropolitan Cathedral, Acoustic Shell, Plaza of the Revolution, historical revolutionary monuments. You will see the gigantic statue of Sandino, Nicaragua’s national hero, on Tiscapa hill overlooking the city of Nicaragua.
After lunch we take a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Managua and Momotombo Volcano towards Leon. On the way to Leon we will visit the old capital of Nicaragua, Leon Viejo, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Leon Viejo was founded by the Spaniards in 1524 on the site of an existing Indian village. Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the brutal Pedrarias Davila, and the “Apostle of the Indians” Bartholome de las Casas, all lived here in Leon Viejo.
Then we continue our drive along the Maribios chain of volcanoes to the mud fumaroles and hot springs in the volcanic fields of San Jacinto volcano.
Late afternoon arrival in Leon.
Sightseeing tour of Leon, home of 17 different religious orders and churches.
You’ll see colorful political murals, the local Marketplace, and the National University of Nicaragua. You visit the Plaza of the Poets, Plaza of the Revolution, and the Leon Cathedral. We stop by the Ortiz-Gurdian art museum where you can see Nicaraguan antiquities and art treasures. Plus a visit of the Ruben Dario museum inside the former home of Nicaragua’s most beloved poet.
Morning visit of the Flor de Caña rum factory.
The area around Leon is famous for its sugarcane plantations and hot climate.
Afternoon escape to the beach at the Pacific coast.
Leon – Masaya volcano – Granada
This morning we travel south to Masaya Volcano National Park, Nicaragua’s first national park, established in 1979. You can explore the crater rim of this active volcano if you wish, and visit the park museum.
Afterwards we visit Masaya, known as the City of Flowers. You visit the Masaya Marketplace and have a chance to shop for local handicrafts.
From the town of Caterina you can have a nice view Laguna de Apoyo volcano crater lake.
Afternoon arrival at the historical colonial town of Granada.
The oldest city in the western hemisphere of the Americas, Granada was founded in 1524 by the conquistador Hernández de Cordoba. Once the business and shipping capital for the entire region, today Granada remains as one of the last and truly colonial cities.
Today we will visit the Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent and its Museum, with its vast exposition of pre-Columbian statutes and pottery, the colorful market, the charming cobblestone streets, and numerous architecturally significant churches and monuments.
Afternoon at leisure to explore Granada.
Granada – Rivas – San Jorge – Ometepe Island
From Granada we drive to the town of Rivas, afterwards we reach San Jorge located at the edge of Lake Nicaragua. In San Jorge we take the ferry to Moyogalpa on the Island of Ometepe, home of the Madera and Concepcion volcanoes.
We start the day by exploring the nearby town of Altagracia.
Afterwards we follow the La Peña Inculta Trail, a pleasant hike through the best preserved lowland forest on Ometepe. The Peña trail cuts through volcanic rock fields trapped in tropical dry forest and is home to some of the islands oldest trees. This forest is home to thousands of nesting parakeets and parrots like the endangered Yellow-napped Amazon Parrot, while howler and white-faced monkeys are also prevalent.
In the afternoon we can head down to the beach of Playa Santo Domingo.
Ometepe Island – San Jorge – San Carlos – El Castillo
From Ometepe we take the ferry back to the mainland and drive overland to San Carlos.
Once in San Carlos we take the boat up the San Juan river to El Castillo, town where the Spanish built a fort to protect Granada from being attacked by pirates.
El Castillo is a very small town just along the river bank, not a single car in sight.
El Castillo – Indio Maiz Nature Reserve
We start our day by visiting the fortress, known as La Fortaleza.
Afterwards we visit by boat the magnificent nature reserve, Reserva Biologica Indio Maiz.
We also visit local communities living along the river.
El Castillo – Managua
After breakfast we begin our journey back to Managua. First by boat from El Castillo to San Carlos, from where our scenic drive back to the capital Managua begins.