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Discover Nicaragua

15 Day Sample Tour
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Visit the highlights of Nicaragua in 15 days including unique landscapes and rich culture. Explore looming volcanoes, lush jungles teeming with wildlife, historic cities, and tranquil beaches as you travel from one corner of this diverse, vibrant country to the other. Soak in the sights, flavors, and ambience as you discover the best of Nicaragua.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Managua
Day 2 : Managua to Rio San Juan
Day 3 : Indio Maiz Reserve and historic El Castillo
Day 4 : Transfer to Managua
Day 5 : Leon City and Ruins
Day 6 : Morning Tour and Leon City
Day 7 : Selva Negra and San Jacinto Mud Pots
Day 8 : Transfer to Granada, City Tour & Boat Ride
Day 9 : Full Day Tour
Day 10 : Ometepe Island
Day 11 : Ometepe Island Excursions
Day 12 : Transfer to Corn Island
Day 13 : Corn Island Leisure Day
Day 14 : Transfer to Managua
Day 15 : Depart Managua

Highlights

  • Observe a myriad of wildlife as you float downriver to Indio Maiz Reserve
  • Visit Old Leon, Nicaragua's first capital city
  • Learn about Selva Negra's innovative and sustainable farming techniques
  • Zip line through the canopy of the forest
  • Relax on the white sand beaches of Corn Island, a bona fide tropical paradise

Places Visited

  • Central America & Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Cerro Negro Volcano
  • Corn Islands
  • El Castillo
  • Granada
  • Indio Maiz Reserve
  • Istiam River
  • Juan Venado
  • Leon City
  • Maderas Volcano
  • Managua
  • Masaya Volcano
  • Matagalpa
  • Mombacho Volcano
  • Old Leon City
  • Ometepe
  • San Carlos
  • San Jacinto
  • Selva Negra Lodge

Activities

Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

A family waiting to start sand boarding down a volcano. Geothermal activity at the San Jacinto mud pots Enjoying an exciting zipline adventure. Relaxing boat ride through Granada's islands A well-preserved facade in Colonial Leon A Poison Dart Frog sits on a bright green leaf. Enjoy some sand boarding at Cerro Negro Volcano.

Day 1 Arrive in Managua

Fly into Managua airport and be transferred privately to your hotel. Enjoy the evening in Managua and dine on your own.

Day 2 Managua to Rio San Juan

After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to San Carlos. Upon arrival, meet with a local guide and travel down the Rio San Juan to the riverside town of El Castillo. This one hour boat trip takes you through an area teeming with wildlife, historically known as the Gold Route. Throughout the journey keep your eyes open and be prepared to spot a number of species of monkeys and birds native to Nicaragua. Lunch is served on the boat en route.

Upon arrival in El Castillo enjoy free time to explore and dine at a local restaurant.

Day 3 Indio Maiz Reserve and historic El Castillo

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dine at your hotel this morning before embarking with your guide on a boat trip to the Indio Maiz Reserve, an area dedicated to the preservation and study of a vast array of wildlife. The Reserve is two miles downstream from El Castillo, at the convergence of Rio Bartola and Rio San Juan. As you peacefully float this stretch of the river observe a myriad of creatures which could potentially include jaguar, tapir, manatee, harpy eagle, green limpet, sawfish, and crocodile, as well as a host of monkeys and native birds.

Return to El Castillo for lunch at a local restaurant, after which a guide escorts you through this historic town. The tour highlights the XVIII century Spanish fortress de la Inmaculada Concepcion, which was part of a series of fortifications along Rio San Juan constructed in the 17th century to provide defense against pirate attacks on the city of Granada. Throughout the tour learn about local customs and gastronomy, and be entertained by the rich myth and lore of the area. Dinner is included today at an authentic Castillo restaurant intentionally selected by your guide. Return to your hotel after dinner and unwind after a full day of touring.

Day 4 Transfer to Managua

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy your last breakfast in El Castillo before taking the boat back to San Carlos Pier. Have lunch in San Carlos and continue on to Managua with your guide. The drive takes about 5 hours though mostly uninhabited land. You may also opt to spend an extra night in the region and catch the internal flight back to Managua the following day.

Upon arrival in Managua, relax at your hotel and enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 5 Leon City and Ruins

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel this morning before meeting your guide for the drive to Leon City, a trip that takes about an hour and a half. Along the way, visit the Old Leon ruins where your guide introduces you to the fascinating history of Nicaragua's first capital city. The ruins offer an incredible vantage point, perfect for admiring nearby Momotombo volcano and Lake Xolotlan.

After visiting the ruins, continue on to Leon City for a free afternoon of relaxation and exploration. Lunch and dinner is on your own.

Day 6 Morning Tour and Leon City

After breakfast this morning, choose between two morning tour options:

Option 1: Juan Venado Island Tour

Juan Venado island is a natural reserve off of Nicaragua's Pacific coast that provides habitat for hundreds of species of birds, wetland creatures, and sea turtles. Observe these native species and enjoy pristine volcanic sand beaches as you tour the island on foot and via boat. Lunch is served at a local restaurant in Las Penitas.

Option 2: Cerro Negro Volcano Hiking Tour

The Cerro Negro Volcano, the youngest in Central America, is a truly unique destination. Your tour begins with a 90-minute 4x4 drive to the base of the volcano. The ascent is steep and takes about an hour, but the stunning view from the top is a worthy reward for your hard work. For those seeking a memorable descent, you can opt to sand board down through the loose rock of Cerro Negro's black slope. Equipment is provided and the descent takes about 15 minutes. Afterward travel with your guide back to Leon for lunch.

After the morning's activities, embark on an informative tour of the influential, colonial Leon city. The city's history largely revolves around the nearby Momotombo Volcano. It was originally located close to the volcano and destroyed by a series of eruptions before being moved to its current location. Throughout your walking tour, you are introduced to the main sites of historic Leon including its monumental cathedral, the birdhouse of Ruben Dario, and the Ortiz Gurdian art gallery.

Spend the evening exploring and dining on your own in Leon City.

Day 7 Selva Negra and San Jacinto Mud Pots

This morning transfer with your guide to Selva Negra after breakfast at your hotel. Break up the two and a half hour drive with a stop along the way at the geologically-impressive San Jacinto Mud Pots. Resting just southeast of the Telica Volcano, this area is alive with geothermic activity. Boiling mud pits and steaming vents create an impressive display and have long been famed for their curative and restorative powers. Explore this unique site before continuing on to Selva Negra.

Arrive at the lodge and enjoy lunch before setting out on the Selva Negra Sustainable Farm Tour, a must-see for visitors to the area. Selva Negra has a reputation for innovative and sustainable farming techniques. The two hour tour of the farm provides great insight into these operations, passing by organic laboratories, worker housing, greenhouses, stables, pastures, coffee plantations, and compost operations.

Return to your hotel for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Day 8 Transfer to Granada, City Tour & Boat Ride

After breakfast drive with your guide two and a half hours to Granada and embark upon a city tour of colonial Granada. Founded in 1524, Granada is considered a historic and cultural landmark. The tour highlights Granada's rich colonial heritage, visible in the structure and architecture of its beautiful homes, patios, and churches. Tour the famous La Merced Church, the Zamora family house, Casa de Los Tres Mundos, and iconic San Francisco Convent. Stroll through charming streets and bask in colorful Granadan ambience before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant.

This evening, after touring Granada on foot, take a relaxing boat ride on Lake Nicaragua. The boat ride lasts about an hour, meandering around islands formed by the Mombacho Volcano, and offering you a spectacular vantage point from which to take in the stunning landscape of the region.

After spending time on the lake, enjoy dinner on your own and relax at your hotel.

Day 9 Full Day Tour

After breakfast today, choose between two day tour options:

Option 1: Mombacho Volcano "The Crater Trail" & Canopy Tour

The tour begins with a 45-minute 4x4 drive up the slopes of nearby Mombacho Volcano. The surrounding cloud forest is full of lush vegetation that has regrown since the volcano was last active. At the foot of the mountain meet the park keepers and switch vehicles for the ascent to the summit. Along the way enjoy breathtaking views and become acquainted with the biodiversity of the region. At the summit set off on a moderate hike along the trails of the volcano. Throughout the hike, learn about Mombacho's wildlife, ancient inhabitants, and volcanic history. If the day is clear, the hike affords amazing views of the plain Pacific region of Nicaragua, neighboring Granada, as well as beautiful Lake Nicaragua. The hike takes about two hours, after which you are driven back down the mountain and have a typical Nicaraguan lunch at the Mombacho reserve. After lunch take an invigorating zip line canopy tour through Cafe Las Flores Canopy Adventure, also located on the reserve. The tour takes two to three hours and offers a truly unique perspective on this beautiful region. Local guides provide assistance throughout, showing you how to properly use the equipment and safely pass from one platform to the other. After zip lining, relax on Cafe Las Flores' farm and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, produced entirely onsite.

Option 2: Masaya Volcano, Artisan Market, Catarina & San Juan de Oriente

This tour takes you to half an hour from Granada to the first national park in the country, established in 1979, home of the Masaya Volcano. At the environmental interpretive center, learn about the history of the volcano as well as the flora and fauna of the surrounding wildlife refuge. Continue with your guided drive up to the summit of Masaya, where you can get out and explore the Santiago crater. Learn about the volcanic formations, the famous Aratinga strenua, a bird that makes its home in the toxic crater walls, as well as the history of the Spanish explorers and native inhabitants of the area. After the volcano tour, travel 15 minutes down the road to visit the Masaya arts and crafts market featuring locally-made ceramics, hammocks, and wood and leather goods. Dine at a local restaurant and continue on to the charming, adjacent towns of Catarina and San Juan de Oriente. Here you are introduced to Nicaraguan craftsmen and learn about how typical pottery, furniture, and baskets are made, while taking in the beauty of the surrounding water and volcanic landscape.

After finishing the tour of your choice, return to the hotel in Granada and enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 10 Ometepe Island

This morning enjoy breakfast at your hotel before transferring an hour and a half from Granada to San Jorge port and catching the ferry to Ometepe Island. After a beautiful hour-long ferry ride, meet your guide in Ometepe and have lunch before embarking together on a tour of the island's most interesting sites. The tour features the charming village of Altagracia and the mysterious Charco Verde and Punta de Jesus Maria. Charco Verde is an ecological reserve famous for its striking emerald green lagoon, which has been the focal point of local legend for centuries. Punta de Jesus Maria, a narrow land spit formed over centuries of sedimentation, offers spectacular panoramic views of Ometepe's two volcanoes as well as imposing Mombacho on the mainland.

After your tour, check in to the hotel and enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 11 Ometepe Island Excursions

After breakfast today, choose between two tour options:

Option 1: Maderas Volcano Hiking Tour

To begin this tour, set out for the Maderas Volcano with your guide at 7:30 a.m. It takes about 15 minutes to drive to the base of the volcano, where you embark on a 10km round-trip hike. The hike up Maderas is considered relatively strenuous, taking most strong hikers four hours to summit and two to three hours to descend. The hike is steep and can be muddy, but rewards participants with sightings of more species of tropical plants and animals than anywhere else on Ometepe. Enjoy spectacular views from the summit, including the unique volcanic crater lake. A box lunch is provided along the way.

Option 2: Kayaking Tour at Istiam River

This tour allows you to explore the ambient wetland ecosystem, getting an up-close look at a variety of birds, monkeys, turtles, and native plants. Paddle with your guide along the shore of Lake Nicaragua until you reach the mouth of the Istiam River. The tour takes about three hours, after which you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon relaxing and exploring the island at your leisure.

Return to your hotel to relax and dine on your own.

Day 12 Transfer to Corn Island

This morning enjoy breakfast at your hotel and prepare for an early transfer to Moyogalpa Port. Here take a ferry to Port San Jorge and transfer two and a half hours to Managua airport. From Managua, take a domestic flight to Corn Island where your hotel provides a transfer from the airstrip.

After the journey relax at your hotel and explore the beach.

Day 13 Corn Island Leisure Day

This morning enjoy breakfast at your hotel and have the remainder of the day free to enjoy beautiful Corn Island. The island is a bona fide tropical paradise, lush with native palms and fruit trees. Relax on white sand beaches or make arrangements with local operators if you're interested in water activities. English is prevalent on the Island, as is negotiating. So if you opt to try the local water sports, be prepared to bargain!

Enjoy lunch and dinner on your own today.

Day 14 Transfer to Managua

After breakfast and a leisurely morning enjoying Corn Island, take a taxi back to the airport for your afternoon flight to Managua. Transfer to your hotel and spend the remainder of the day relaxing and dining on your own.

Day 15 Depart Managua

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast this morning transfer from your hotel to Managua International airport for your midday flight and the next leg of your journey.

Corn Islands - Hotels

El Castillo - Hotels

Granada - Hotels

Hotel Los Robles

Leon City - Hotels

Managua - Hotels

Ometepe - Hotels

Selva Negra Lodge

Per person starting at
$4,775

Notes

$580 single supplement

Flights to/from San Carlos ONLY operate on Thursdays and Sundays.

Included

  • 14 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 2 Dinners
  • 14 Nights Accommodations
    • 14 Nights Hotel
  • 9 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are included.

Excluded

  • International Flights

Recommended Budgeting

  • $280 Meals not Included
  • $45 Airport Departure Tax
  • $150 Optional Excursions
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Mary Curry
Mary C

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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