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Nicaragua Highlights

Example 15 Day Tour
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Soak in the sights, flavors and ambiance as you discover the best of Nicaragua. In this comprehesive highlights tour you'll have time to take in all that Nicaragua has to offer. Tour historic Managua and Granada with your guide, float the Rio San Juan in your search for wildlife, hike volcanos, visit ruins and explore the unique geological phenomina, the San Jacinto Mud Pots. This 15 day tour allows to immerse yourself in Nicaragua's diverse culture and landscape.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Managua
Day 2 : Fly to Rio San Juan
Day 3 : Indio Maiz Reserve & Historic El Castillo
Day 4 : Return to Managua
Day 5 : Explore Managua | Leon City and Ruins
Day 6 : Morning Tour and Leon City
Day 7 : Selva Negra & San Jacinto Mud Pots
Day 8 : Transfer to Granada | City Tour & Isletas Boat Ride
Day 9 : Choose Your Own Adventure
Day 10 : Transfer to Ometepe Island | Ometepe Island Tour
Day 11 : Tour at Ometepe Island
Day 12 : Transfer to San Juan del Sur
Days 13-14 : Leisure Days at Morgan's Rock
Day 15 : Return Managua

Highlights

  • Boat through the Indio Maiz Reserve watching for wildlife as you go
  • Tour the historic cities of Mangua, Granada and Leon
  • Experience varying landscapes on a tour to one of the regions many volcanos
  • Enjoy leisure days at the beach with options to surf, kayak and fish

Places Visited

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

Activities

Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level

Easy Active

Trip Snapshots

Travelers pose on top of the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception. Enjoying an exciting zipline adventure. The sun sets behind two travelers enjoying the warm sands of a Nicaragua beach. Relaxing boat ride through Granada's islands A family getting ready to do some ziplining. Baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean by Morgan's Rock. Geothermal activity at the San Jacinto mud pots Spectacular views over colonial Leon

Day 1 Arrive Managua

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

Day 2 Fly to Rio San Juan

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 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 to species of monkeys and birds native to Nicaragua. Lunch is served on the boat en route. The trip will take about an hour.

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

Day 3 Indio Maiz Reserve & Historic El Castillo

  • Hotels
  • 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 will escort 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 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 Return to Managua

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 Explore Managua | Leon City and Ruins

This morning head out to explore Managua with your guide. Visit the National Historic Park Loma de Tiscapa to learn more about city’s history before driving on to Leon City, about an hour and a half. Along the way, visit the Old Leon ruins where your guide will introduce 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. 

Day 6 Morning Tour and Leon City

This morning you have the option of two different tours. Choose between the following tour options:

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 will be served at a local restaurant in Las Penitas.

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 will take 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'll be 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 & San Jacinto Mud Pots

After breakfast transfer to Selva Negra with your guide. 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 your hotel in Selva Negra 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 & Isletas 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 ambiance 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 Choose Your Own Adventure

After breakfast, choose between two day tour options:

Mombacho Volcano 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 will be 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.

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 will be 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 Transfer to Ometepe Island | Ometepe Island Tour

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, return to the hotel and enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 11 Tour at Ometepe Island

After breakfast, choose between two tour options:

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'll 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 will be provided along the way.

Kayaking Tour at Istiam River: This tour will allow 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 San Juan del Sur

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and prepare for an early transfer to Moyogalpa Port. Here you will take a ferry to Port San Jorge and transfer to Morgan's Rock in beautiful San Juan Del Sur.

After the journey relax at your hotel and explore the beautiful grounds.

Day 13-14 Leisure Days at Morgan's Rock

  • Hotel
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Enjoy the stunning setting and facilities of Morgan's Rock. The Ecolodge proudly and actively champions ecotourism, intentionally participating in conservation and reforestation efforts, offering guests opportunities to learn about endangered wildlife and primary forest wilderness areas, and constructing and maintaining its facilities using sustainable means. See activity options

Once again, enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner onsite at the renowned Ecolodge restaurant.

Day 15 Return Managua

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, transfer the three hours from Morgan's Rock to Managua International airport for your afternoon flight and the next leg of your journey. Please note your flight must depart after 12 PM.

El Castillo - Hotels

Granada - Hotels

Leon City - Hotels

Managua - Hotels

Matagalpa - Hotels

Morgan's Rock

Ometepe - Hotels

Per person starting at
$5,150

Notes

$575 - $610 single supplement

Included

  • 14 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 5 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

  • $220 Meals not Included
  • $45 Airport Departure Tax
  • $150 Optional Excursions
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Kevin M

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This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
Karen Snider

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Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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