Grand and Gracious Nicaragua

Nature, history, culture and cuisine of highlands, islands and haciendas
Overview

overview

Enjoy an in-depth exploration of the most distinctive and memorable features of Nicaragua from rich coffee country and iconic volcanoes to graceful Granada, Las Isletas and Lago Nicaragua. Come early to explore historic Leon; add on time to enjoy the sensual twin-domed Ometepe Island or the isolated and inviting  Pacific beaches near San Juan del Sur. 

This is an exciting time to visit Nicaragua. You will enjoy a pervasive, natural, quiet civility. Very friendly locals and your hosts  are delighted and proud that visitors are discovering Nicaragua's great natural features and cultural harmony. Some people say little-visited, long-overlooked Nicaragua is like Costa Rica of 30 years ago (only better)!  There is a growing commitment to preservation of the country's diverse and rich natural environments, and an eco-sensibility that is manifesting itself accommodations, cultural projects and in other fields. While many come for the nature and the outdoor recreation, perhaps one of the best kept secrets is the Nicaraguans' love of poetry, pottery and painting. Your accommodations are comfortable, intimate, and deeply-imbedded in the nature and culture of your locations.  Inviting, safe and friendly paths lead you deep into a welcoming destination.

Tell us about your passions and preferences for food, coffee, birds, art, pottery, hiking geology or meeting great people and we will help enrich and enhance this imaginative itinerary to address your special interests.

 

 

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Managua arrival
    Nicaragua's national bird is the turquoise-browed mot mot

    Arrive at the international airport in Managua, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your convenient wi-fi equipped hotel.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Camino Real
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  • Day 2: Managua / Leon

    North of Managua is the colonial city of Leon. Known for cultural and historical sites, enjoy a nice walking tour this afternoon. With an authentic atmosphere, you'll be able to easily connect with the locals as you explore the narrow colonial streets and architecture, art galleries, museums, restaurants and cafés. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel El Convento
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  • Day 3: Juan Venado Island Nature Reserve

    Juan Venado Natural Reserve is an impressive mangrove sanctuary, and a well kept secret among tourists. Situated 25 minutes from the Colonial city of Leon this area is well-known as a vital coastal wetland region and includes known turtle nesting grounds, a bird nesting region and a nature rich region of the Nicaragua. Separating the coast from the island is an ecologically important mangrove forest or swamp. This marvelous biological zone provides the ideal home for an abundance of animal life - particularly marine creatures. The edge of the Juan Venado Island that faces into the Pacific Ocean possesses a fine estuary and is also a vital nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles. These amazing reptiles come to the small island every year between August and December to lay their eggs. The estuary of Isla Juan Venado is itself home to a diversity of organisms including water birds, Caymans, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and more. Bird watching enthusiasts will find the island a real treat as it is home to 106 bird species. Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve has no people residing in it, so you are guaranteed complete peace and tranquility in beautiful natural surroundings. We will transfer you from your hotel in León to the Pacific bay of Las Peñitas where you will board a motorboat towards the island. Lined with mangrove forest between the island and coast, our captain will find the perfect route through the curvy waterway to the secluded Pacific beach side of the island. Here we will take you for a walk and if you like, have a refreshing dive into the Pacific Ocean (so don't forget your swimming suit!).

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel El Convento
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  • Day 4: Matagalpa
    Welcome to Matagalpa

    After breakfast, you will head for the cool hills of Matagalpa. Matagalpa was once an indigenous village that was referred to as "the pearl of the north." Situated in a narrow valley in the green mountainous north of Nicaragua, it forms the heart of the Nicaraguan coffee production and has a fresh climate that most Nicaraguans characterize as "cold."

    The Spaniards arrived in Matagalpa in 1528 in search of a water passage to the Caribbean Sea. In 1840, gold was discovered in the region, attracting Spaniards, Mestizos, Germans, Americans, and British to the region.

    The city of Matagalpa and the surrounding area has always played a significant role in Nicaraguan history, but above all, the region has a lot to offer those who love being in touch with nature, enjoying vast landscapes, and spectacular flora and fauna. You can expect beautiful lodges, hiking and nature, organic and fair trade coffee farms, and genuine interaction with local  communities.

    You will be the guest on a model coffee farm which also serves as a beautiful ecolodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Selva Negra
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  • Day 5: Peñas Blancas Massif
    Walk the green hills of coffee country

    Encounter crystal clear rivers, water wells, large and small waterfalls, giant trees, and a wide variety of tropical plants as you make your way through the Peñas Blancas Massif Reserve this morning. The fog that seems to be ever present, adds mystery to this magical place. The reserve is inhabited by pumas, jaguars, ocelots, wild boars, deer, paca ́s, sloths, monkeys and birds such as hummingbirds, wranglers and the rare resplendant quetzals.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Selva Negra
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  • Day 6: El Chile village

    Following breakfast, you will transfer to the indigenous community of El Chile for a tour of the village. El Chile is widely known for its woven crafts the local women produce, including bags, purses and backpacks. After enjoying a little workshop and having lunch with a local family, hike up the El Chile hill for an impressive panoramic view of the surrounding area.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Selva Negra
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  • Day 7: Matagalpa / Masaya Volcano / Granada
    Masaya Volcano

    Today you will transfer to Nicaragua's most beautiful city, Granada. Along the way, stop at the Masaya Volcano, located in Nicaragua's first and largest national park. The Masaya Volcano is a shallow shield volcano composed of balsatic leaves and tephras. It is comprised of material that is over 2,500 years old.

    After visiting the volcano, continue on to Granada. Granada was founded in 1524 and is believed to be the second oldest city established in mainland Latin America by the Spanish conquest. The city is characterized by its brightly-colored Spanish-colonial architecure. Take a city tour via horse-drawn carriage to get a sense of the rich history and lively atmosphere.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Plaza Colon
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  • Day 8: Granada
    Granada offers artistic charm and rich history.

    After breakfast, your guide introduces you to Granada's architecturally charming and colorful city center, its lakeshore on Lago Nicaragua, and the old town with fortress and ancient city walls. It's hard to imagine a lovelier, more gracious, town. Tour partly by horse-drawn carriage and partly on foot. (The carriages are not an invention to charm toursits, but reflect a traditional mode of transportation in rural Nicaragua.) Visit San Francisco Church and convent, built in 1529, now museums with an impressive collection of pre-Columbian art. At Merced Church, you will have the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower and take in spectacular views of the city, Lake Nicaragua, and the Mombacho Volcano.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Plaza Colon
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  • Day 9: Mombacho Volcano or Pueblos Blancos
    In Santa Catarina, one of the Pueblos Blancos, note the charming small home-based nurseries.

    Today you will have the choice between two tours: visiting the Pueblos Blancos (white towns), famous for their artisanry, or going to Mombacho for a crater walk among lush tropical forest.

    If you choose to visit the Pueblos Blancos, depart from the hotel early in the morning for the town of Masaya and its handicrafts market where you will see various forms of traditional Nicaraguan artwork from pottery to leather goods and textiles. Enjoy lunch in another of the quaint towns, Catarina, known for its spectacular location  overlooking the huge crater lake of Apoyo as well as for its cottage industry of family-owned flower nurseries. After lunch, visit what is perhaps the most important artisanal town in the country, San Juan de Oriente, famous for its ceramics. Nicaraguan pottery has a tradition dating back thousands of years. The designs combine etching and deeply hued glazes for an effect that is unique to Nicaragua.

    Alternatively, you may choose the hike at Mombacho.  Drive to the top of the volcano in a 4x4 vehicle, visit the scientific station, and walk the well-kept Crater Trail (1.5 km) through rich cloud forest. Stop at some fumaroles and note the escaping gasses. Enjoy breath-taking views overlooking Granada, Las Isletas, Laguna de Apoyo and the Masaya Volcano. Keep an eye out for the howler and white face monkeys, as well as the endemic Mombacho salamander, found nowhere else in the world.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Plaza Colon
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  • Day 10: Las Isletas / Jicaro Island
    Comfortable rooms with verandas are up in the treetops, overlooking the lake.

    Today travel by motor launch on Lake Nicaragua through the archipelago known as Las Isletas to your unique small ecolodge. The 365 small volcanic islands, located only 3 kilometers from Granada, were created when Volcano Mombacho erupted approximately 1.5 million years ago. Many of the islands are home to just one or two families who make their living from fishing.  Monkey Island is a sanctuary for monkeys previously held as pets but now released back into the wild.

    Jicaro Island Ecolodge holds itself to the highest standards of environmental responsibility and also to impeccable standards for client service. The nine guest rooms are set into the landscape with minimum disruption. Private balconies, as well as verandas designed as common space, are perfect for watching the waterbirds, the human acitvity on the lake, and the magnificent sunsets. Food is wonderfully prepared with locally available ingredients. Guests and staff alike feel privileged to be in this remarkable place.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jicaro Island Ecolodge
  • Day 11: Granada / Onward
    The view of Las Isletas from Jicaro

    Depart Jicaro by boat in time to visit the Pedro Nelli school on a nearby island. The school, with support from Jicaro Lodge, has become a model of community involvement. Continue by boat to Granada, to continue your stay in Nicaragua or transfer to the airport for your homeward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Apr 5-15, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,990
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$475
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
2
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
1
optional day hiking

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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