Day 1 Arrive in Managua
Fly into Managua International, meet your guide, and transfer to your hotel to get settled in. Relax and enjoy dinner on your own in Managua.
Day 2 Basics of Nicaraguan Cuisine
After breakfast today set out from Managua to Leon. Break up this two hour trip with a stop along the way in the town of Masaya for a culinary adventure!
At renowned restaurant El Filete, take part in a cooking class where you learn to prepare a typical dish called "Quesillo." This dish is quintessentially Nicaraguan, consisting of rice and beans, pico de gallo, sweet or fried plantain, steak, and cheese. Learn the secrets of preparing this delicacy from the chef at El Filete, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch.
Continue on to Leon and settle into your hotel for the night in this historic colonial city.
Day 3 Colonial Leon & Rum Factory
This morning enjoy breakfast at your hotel before setting out on a tour of Colonial Leon. The city is known for its history and beautiful architecture. A variety of architectural styles are represented on Leon's charming streets, from neoclassical to colonial and everything in between. Tour the famous Insigne y Real Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, whose construction began in 1747 and continued for over a century.
Dine at a local restaurant after taking in the highlights of Leon City, and then head to Flor de Cana Rum, the largest spirits distillery in Central America. Take a tour of the facility and learn about the distillation process from start to finish. After the tour, visit the Rum Showroom and taste the varieties of Flor de Cana's magnificent, prize-winning rum.
After brushing up on your rum knowledge, head back to Hotel El Convento for a lesson in mixology. El Convento's experienced bar tender demonstrates how to make Nicaragua's (rum-based, naturally!) national drink, the Macua. Enjoy this acclaimed cocktail before dinner and spend the rest of the evening on your own in Leon.
Day 4 Transfer to Granada | Artisan Market & Masaya Volcano
After breakfast at your hotel, travel two and a half hours to Granada for the next leg of your Nicaraguan adventure. Have lunch in nearby Masaya and continue on to the Masaya Volcano just outside of town. Drive to the top and explore the Santiago crater and surrounding area on foot while taking in stunning vistas of the countryside below. After learning about the area's volcanic activity and development, spend some time meandering through the Masaya market, perusing the craft stalls, and enjoying the artisanal atmosphere.
Proceed to Granada, settle into your hotel, and relax for a spell before heading back to Masaya for an authentic Nicaraguan cultural experience, Jueves de Verbena. This weekly event highlights traditional folkloric dance, music, and cuisine. Food stands and restaurants surround the market venue, and performances begin at 7:30 in the evening, lasting until around midnight. Rub shoulders with local Nicaraguans and bask in the ambience of the Masayan evening before returning to Granada for a well-earned night's rest.
Day 5 Mystic Granada, Cigar Factory & Chocolate Cooking Class
This morning you are introduced to the rich history of Nicaraguan cigar-making at the Dona Elba cigar factory. This facility is family-owned and operated, passing its traditions down through generations. Tour the factory and visit the showroom, getting an up-close look at the process of Nicaraguan cigar-making as well as the history of this popular product.
After the cigar tour, get to know colonial Granada, the oldest European settlement in Central America. Embark on a tour of this magical city in a horse drawn carriage, in keeping with typical colonial fashion! Be transported 500 years into the past as your carriage ride takes you through Granada's historic streets. Highlights of the tour include La Merced, a beautiful 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.
Have lunch at Zaguan, reputed as the best restaurant in town. Zaguan is known for its open-flamed grill and succulent meats, as well as its charming atmosphere complete with dueling mariachis.
Follow your delectable lunch with an afternoon of dessert! Chocolate has been one of the most significant products for Central American cultures throughout history, and Nicaragua boasts some of the finest. Learn about the product's extraordinary history at Granada's Choco Museum. Here follow the production process from beans to bar as you roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine, and mold your own handmade Nicaraguan chocolate. The workshop takes about two hours.
Return to your hotel for dinner after a full day touring Granada.
Day 6 Taste of Nicaraguan Cuisine & Mombacho Volcano
After breakfast today meet the chef at Hotel Dario, Oscar Coronado, and venture together to the local market. Here peruse the stalls and select all of the fresh ingredients needed to create an authentic Nicaraguan meal. Head back to Hotel Dario, roll up your sleeves, and cook alongside Chef Coronado, learning trade secrets and traditions of Nicaraguan cuisine. At the end of class, sit back and enjoy the feast you have prepared.
This afternoon travel with your guide to the Mombacho Volcano Reserve. This area is known as a cloud forest, due to its low-lying cloud layer. It is teeming with tropical vegetation that has been restored to the reserve after centuries of volcanic activity. Drive with your guide about 45 minutes to the base of the volcano and meet up with park keepers who share their vast knowledge of the area with you as you load into a 4x4 and continue on to the summit. Enjoy the ride up through lush flora, passing by stunning views of this unique ecosystem. At the summit, spend about two hours strolling along the trails of the volcano, learning about its history, biodiversity, and ancient inhabitants. Head back down the mountain to Granada for a relaxing evening and dinner in town.
Day 7 Depart Granada
Enjoy your last breakfast in Granada before being transferred back to Managua International Airport for the next leg of your journey.