Make It Yours
Upon arrival in Managua, meet up with your guide and transfer from the airport to Montibelli Private Nature Reserve, only 30 minutes from Managua. The reserve is made up of about 400 acres of tropical dry forest in Managua's high sierra. Montibelli is home to a variety of unique animal and plant life, offering guests an up-close vantage point from which to admire this rugged landscape.
The recently-renovated lodge is located on the reserve. Tropical fruits and vegetables are grown onsite and used to create mouth-watering authentic fare at the lodge restaurant. The grounds are great for bird watching, boasting a myriad of colorful species including parrots, hummingbirds, golden orioles, and Nicaragua's national bird, the motmot. It is also one of the only places in Nicaragua where the rare trogon can be spotted.
Take an afternoon nature walk around the grounds and then enjoy the evening in this peaceful, natural setting after your long journey.
This morning have breakfast at the lodge and take a guided nature walk in the reserve. Visit the onsite plantations where a variety of produce is sustainably cultivated.
After working up an appetite touring the Montibelli, enjoy the fruits of the plantations for lunch before heading down the road to Chocoyero Reserve, an area teeming with wildlife and lush vegetation. Several trails wind around the park, allowing you to observe howler and white-face monkeys as well as a host of exotic birds. The reserve is famous for its green parakeets, chocoyos, that nest alongside the waterfalls and entertain visitors with their comings and goings.
After the tour, continue on to Granada, check into your hotel and enjoy dinner on your own.
After breakfast today, embark upon a city tour of colonial Granada. Founded in 1524, Granada is considered a historic and cultural landmark. The tour takes you through Granada's charming streets, showing off its beautiful homes, patios, and churches. Visit La Merced, a stunning baroque cathedral that offers captivating views of the city from its lofty rooftop, and the famed convent of San Francisco, with its striking, iconic blue facade.
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 area's many volcanoes. Relax and take the stunning lake-scape from this spectacular vantage point.
Have lunch in Granada before traveling half an hour down the road to the first national park in the country. Established in 1979, Masaya National Park is named for the picturesque 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 which features locally-made ceramics, hammocks, and wood and leather goods.
Return to Granada and enjoy dinner on your own.
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel today before embarking on a tour of imposing Mombacho volcano.
The tour begins with a 45 minute 4x4 drive up the slopes of nearby Mombacho. 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 with 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. Upon reaching 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 geothermal history. If the day is clear, the hike affords amazing views of the plain Pacific region, 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.
The afternoon and evening will be yours to wander through charming Granada and dine on your own.
After breakfast in Granada, transfer to Managua airport for your flight to San Carlos. Here meet with your local guide, taxi to the pier, and take a motorboat transfer to the beautiful Solentiname Archipelago. The flight takes about 45 minutes and the boat ride about an hour and a half.
After dining and settling into your hotel, embark on a tour of the main island of Solentiname. Soak in the beautiful surroundings as you visit the local museum and artist workshops. The island is famous for its Escuela Primitivista de Solentiname, a painting school established in the 70s by a group of local fisherman. The art produced by this unassuming school is known and admired all over the world.
Enjoy dinner at your hotel this evening.
This morning you will head toward El Castillo, stopping on the southern shores of Lake Nicaragua for a visit to fascinating Los Guatuzos Research Center. The reserve is rich in wildlife, housing numerous species of rare birds, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and other rainforest-dwellers. The tour will take you about 5 miles inland on the Papaturro river, allowing you to observe the banks from the boat and then get out and explore the rainforest briefly on foot.
After your tour, continue to El Castillo along Rio San Juan, stopping to have lunch and transfer boats in San Carlos. This leg of the journey is historically referred to as the Gold Route as it was a main thoroughfare for fortune-hunters in the Central American gold rush of the 1850s. Upon arrival in El Castillo, settle into your hotel and prepare for the evening's activities.
This evening your guide will take you on a tour specifically designed to highlight the rare cayman that inhabit the region. Keep your eyes peeled for these small crocodylians as you float along the peaceful riverbank. The tour will take about an hour and a half, after which you'll be taken back to El Castillo for dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast today head two miles downstream to the convergence of Rio San Juan and Rio Bartola which marks the Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve. This tropical wetland is unique in Nicaragua and the reserve is devoted to the preservation and research of the diverse species it houses. Begin with a boat tour of the area and then disembark for a walk up the Bartola trail. Animals you could potentially spot during your tour of Indio Maiz include jaguar, tapir, manatee, harpy eagle, green limpet, sawfish, spider monkey, and crocodile. Enjoy a picnic at the reserve before making your way to the Cacao community. Visit with the 8 families in the community who make a living through the production of cacao. Tour the cacao fields and be invited into the families' homes to learn the secrets behind delicious cacao drinks and tortillas.
Travel back to El Castillo for dinner at your Hotel.
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.
This morning have breakfast at your hotel and transfer to the international airport for the next leg of your journey.
To continue your Nicaraguan wildlife adventure, travel to Selva Negra for a three day stint at this coffee plantation. Or help out with the Padre Ramos Turtle Conservation project on the Pacific Coast. Live and work alongside biologists and volunteers as you learn about this important hawksbill turtle habitat. This tour is available from mid-April to September.