Day 1 Arrive in Managua
Day 2 Managua
Explore Managua today as you tour through the most significant sites of the Sandinista Revolution. With your guide, visit Monumento al Liberalismo, built in the 1930s to honor President Somoza-Garcia. Nearby is a monument to Sandino, constructed on top of the wreckage of the old Presidential Palace of the Somoza family. Visit also Tiscapa Hill, locally known as “Nights of Torture”, a prison where current President Daniel Ortega and many other political prisoners were tortured. Tour through the prison cells and learn about the recent struggle from the 60s and 70s. See the Revolution Plaza with its popular soldier statue, and the cathedral and peace park. Former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, the first female president in Central America, encased machine guns, pistols, and a tank in concrete to forever memorialize the violent struggle of the 20th century.
Eat lunch at a local restaurant in Managua and continue on to the Fundacion Violeta de Chamorro to meet a representative of the foundation and learn first-hand how a female took office in the midst of a civil war and established a lasting peace through reconciling families and restoring civil liberties. Spend some time strolling through the colorful market stalls of Huembes Market before driving north to the colonial city of Leon. Famous for being the home to Ruben Dario, it has the stigma of being the center for the modernist movement in literature and the arts for Nicaragua. As the capital of the North, this city gave root to the Sandinista uprising.
Day 3 Leon City
Wander Leon City this morning with your guide and learn many recent facts about Nicaragua's revolution against the Somoza dictatorship. Tour awe-inspiring architectural marvels and cathedrals. Visit wartime sites such as the University of Leon, where the intellectual movement was born and the “21 Old Jail” where political prisoners were held during the revolution. Explore the Museum of Martyrs and Heroes of the revolution and learn about the human rights abuses of the recent past that took place in this city. Here you have the chance to see poetry written by country leaders, locals, and mothers. Read also an excerpt from an unknown soldier's journal. Converse here with one of the martyr's mothers. Hear her stories and learn of the war's impact on the families that lived through it in Leon.
The afternoon is free to explore the city. A number of activities are also possible this afternoon. Visit nearby Old Leon ruins, go volcano ash skiing on Cerro Negro, or tour Juan Venado Wildlife Reserve for chances to spot caiman, iguanas, and birds. Head to the coast for surfing or beach combing, or just wander the city and soak up the quaint colonial atmosphere.
Day 4 Matagalpa
Drive this morning further north to the heart of the coffee-growing mountains in Matagalpa, also known as “the Pearl of the North” or "Land of Eternal Spring". The city contains the “Carlos Fonseca Amador Museum”, named after local founder of the Sandinista Front in 1961, Carlos Fonseca Amador. Learn about the history of this local area and their involvement in the revolution, as well as explore the coffee plantations that thrive in this region of Nicaragua. Overnight at a local sustainable coffee farm and eco-lodge. Here you can take a tour to learn about the coffee process, taking it from a bean to a delicious cup of coffee. Explore the rainforest on self-guided hikes at your leisure or try your hand at horseback riding this afternoon.
Day 5 San Rafael del Norte
Today take a full day tour to visit General Augusto Sandino's most memorable attack sites. Stroll through the Sandino Museum in San Rafael, visit the tomb of Sandino's wife, and the church with the famous “devil fresco” of Daniel Ortega. This afternoon, go to some local homes and visit with an ex-contra guerilla. Many of these fighters were previously Sandinista guerrillas who later disagreed with the direction of their party after the overthrow of the Somoza regime. Hear war stories first-hand and learn about the various reasons why so many fighters switched sides. Other optional activities in this region include hiking and birdwatching in the nearby rainforest. Take time to explore the beautiful cloudforest of Selva Negra this evening.
Day 6 Masaya
Drive south today back through Managua towards Granada City. Stop en route to visit the famous Masaya Volcano. Pass by fields of petrified lava on your ride to the top where you can park the vehicle. Get out and walk around or climb to the lookout to peer down into the deep sulfuric crater at the top!
Continue on next to the Masaya Market, the most famous handicrafts market in Nicaragua, and well-known for its hammocks! After exploring the multicolored booths and bartering for keepsakes, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Next visit Niquinohomo, Sandino's home, The Coyotepe Fortress, and the Camilo Ortega Museum. Camilo was the younger brother of current President Daniel Ortega, and killed by the National Guard in 1978. In Masaya you have the opportunity to connect with a former Sandinista guerilla. Continue the rest of the way to Granada City.
Day 7 Granada City
This morning set out on a walking tour of the city of Granada. The oldest colonial city in all Central America, Granada was first founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. Though it has been sacked by pirates multiple times and undergone many civil wars, Granada boasts beautiful Spanish architecture, making it the must-see of Nicaragua. Next head to the shores of Lake Nicaragua for a boat tour of the tiny isletas offshore. Over 365 tiny islands were created by the eruption of Mombacho. Keep your eyes peeled for birds and other wildlife as you pass each island. Explore today sites such as the famous San Francisco convent and "La Polvora", a former jail used during the rule of the last Somoza.
Spend the rest of your tour wandering around the main plaza, perhaps even take a horse-drawn buggy ride! Feel free to explore more museums as time allows, or visit nearby Mombacho Volcano for a rainforest hike or zip line canopy tour.
Day 8 Return Home
Transfer the one hour back to Managua in time for your international flight home.