Essence of Nicaragua
Day 1 Granada
Arrive in Granada at any time. Granada is approximately one hour from the Managua International Airport, and taxis are readily available to transfer you to the hotel. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members.
Day 2-3 Granada (1L)
Granada is Nicaragua’s oldest and 3rd largest Spanish city, named after it’s Moorish counterpart in Spain. It retains its colonial character with traditional architecture and large cool patios inside of the older homes. In the evenings the rocking chairs come out and visiting time begins. Walking is probably the easiest way to see all the sights of Granada. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will give you an initial orientation walk around the city and then you will have plenty of time to explore in more depth. Stroll over to Casa de Los Leones for a glimpse of what’s going on this week culturally. There’s also a promenade, Centro Turistica, down by Lake Nicaragua, a 15 min walk from the central plaza. Travel down the city’s historic avenues to visit the impressive cathedral, the colourful market or the Convento de San Francisco, which was built in 1529. Today, the convent is a museum complex housing festival masks and a collection of 2,000-year old statues. Optional activities include a scenic boat trip or guided kayak excursion among the 365 little islands (isletas) of Lake Nicaragua.
Day 4-5 León
Off to politically progressive León. You will have an included orientation walk around the city's core to get your bearings. This town was the nation’s capital from the colonial period until 1857 and is still the centre of much of the country’s cultural and intellectual activity. Nicaragua’s first University was founded here in 1912, for example. León is still the home to multiple universities, and when in session, you will see many students around town. Many well preserved Spanish colonial buildings and churches line the streets along with the cathedral, which is the largest in Central America. Construction began in 1747 and continued for one hundred years. Your orientation walk includes entrance to the rooftop of the cathedral where you'll see beautiful vistas of town and surroundings. The famous Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario is buried here, and the house where he grew up is now a museum on calle Central, three blocks west of the plaza. Considered one of Latin America’s greatest poets, he influenced Spanish literature in his time. There is always something interesting to do in León, whether it be a city tour, volcano boarding down Nicaragua’s youngest volcano Cerro Negro, or a trip to the nearby beaches of Poneloya and Las Peñitas. If you’d prefer to just wander through the streets you’ll find several politically-charged murals depicting Nicaragua’s turbulent history and several good museums in the area, including one dedicated to the heroes and martyrs of the Sandinista movement. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 140 km
Day 6-7 Ometepe Island (2B,2D)
From the town of San Jorge, we cross Lake Nicaragua by ferry to arrive at Ometepe Island. The group will be split up amongst different families who will host them in their homes in a small community during their stay on the island. Breakfast and dinner will be provided in the home. This unspoiled island paradise formed out of the lava flowing in between two volcanoes, Maderas (1394m) and Concepción (1610m), is a nature-lover’s dream with abundant wildlife and beauty. It is located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, tenth largest freshwater lake in the world and home to the world’s only freshwater sharks. Take a walk through its lush forest for a chance to see howler monkeys and green parrots. Small villages around the island farm a variety of crops in the fertile volcanic soil including plantains, coffee, beans and tobacco. Fishing is another important industry on the island. While here, try hiking Maderas volcano (a tough but achievable hike), float in clear springs, relax and swim on the beach, or rent a bicycle to visit the small rural villages on this island. You can also view pre-Columbian petroglyphs or the small museum of indigenous artifacts in Altagracia. Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours Approximate Distance: 200 km
Day 8-10 San Juan del Sur
After taking the ferry back across Lake Nicaragua to the mainland, we catch a bus to low-key San Juan del Sur for some serious relaxation by the sea. Set on a stunning horseshoe shaped cove, this fishing village is the perfect place to combine two of Nicaragua’s best features – its beautiful beaches and its award-winning Flor de Caña rum! Here you can do as little or as much as you want to do. Take surf lessons, try out your luck fishing, go zip-lining on the hills above San Juan del Sur, or just lounge on the beach! A short boat or taxi ride away, the deserted beaches of Playa Maderas and Majagual to the north and Playa Remanso to the south are calling out to be explored. In the evenings you can take advantage of the relaxed seaside nightlife with the friendly locals. Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours Approximate Distance: 45 km
Day 11 Granada
Travel back to the city of Granada for one final day. Opt to visit nearby Masaya volcano, one of the most accessible volcanoes in the country. This active volcano is located within the 52 square kilometre Masaya Volcano National Park, established in 1979 as Nicaragua's first national park. Volcano Masaya is just one of two volcanoes situated within the park boundaries, the second being the Nindiri Volcano. The park's landscape is rocky with volcanic ash throughout. Wildlife inhabiting the park include coyotes, deer, iguanas, monkeys and the unique crater-dwelling parakeets who live in the toxic inner walls of the Santiago crater. Hike up the black, gravel trail and get a close-up view at the impressive crater, which continues to emit smoke and sulfur gases. Feel the gentle rumbling of this living volcano beneath your feet - what a way to cap off two weeks of adventure in Nicaragua! Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 80 km
Day 12 Granada
Depart Granada at any time.