Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes

Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes

Start: Managua Finish: Managua

Visiting: Managua, San Juan, Granada, Leon , Ometepe


Duration: 12 Nights

Physical rating: Medium, Moderate

Special diets catered: Vegans, Vegetarians

Tour code: NIC

Private Available: Request A Private Tour

Tour operator: Explore!

Group size: 4 - 18

Age range: 14-99

Tour operated in: English


From: $2100 $2058

Extra tourhub saving: $42

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Tour Overview

The 'Land of Lakes and Volcanoes' certainly lives up to its name - during this highlights trip, take a boat trip across magnificent Lake Nicaragua to the laid-back volcanic island of Ometepe, discover the birdlife of the lush Selva Negra Cloudforest, and explore Leon and Granada, two colonial towns that are bursting with revolutionary history. Masaya Volcano - Watch the lava swirl in the depths of this impressive active volcano San Ramon homestay - Spend the night with a family and taste the labours of this rural coffee community San Juan del Sur - Relax on the Pacific Coast, and take the opportunity to watch nesting turtles in season (August-January)

Highlights

  • iconMasaya Volcano - Watch the lava swirl in the depths of this impressive active volcano
  • iconSan Juan del Sur - Relax on the Pacific Coast, and take the opportunity to watch nesting turtles in season (August-January)
  • iconSan Ramon homestay - Spend the night with a family and taste the labours of this rural coffee community

Places You'll See

Red-eyed tree frog
Granada's cathedral
Toucans
Masaya Volcano
Ometepe Island
Fiery-throated hummingbird
Leon, Nicaragua
Kayaking at Las Isletas, Granada
Fresh fruit nicaragua
Fiery-billed Aracari, Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur
Managua's cathedral
Fishing boats at San Juan del Sur
Blue jeans dart frog
Running down the Cerro Negro volcano
Ferry to Ometepe
Olive Ridley turtles hatching at San Juan (in season)

Itinerary

icon Day 1: Join trip in Managua

Location: Managua

Accommodation: Mansión Teodolinda

Meals: No Meals

Arrive in Managua, Nicaragua's capital. At the centre of Nicaragua's political and cultural history, this modern capital is known for the volcanoes and lakes which surround it, as well as its lively markets.

For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at approximately 8.30pm for the welcome meeting. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive into Managua at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA), which is a 20 minute drive from our hotel. There are many evening flights into Managua, so if you do miss the meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If you arrive earlier in the day, you may want to visit the city's lakefront, a perfect place for a refreshing drink and a walk.

icon Day 2: Tour of Managua and Leon's highlights

Accommodation: Hotel Los Balcones

Meals: Breakfast

This morning we enjoy a short city tour of Managua by bus, exploring both the historical and modern facets of the city. Our first stop is the Tiscapa Crater Lake for superb views over the entire city. On a clear day, we can see several volcanoes to the north of the city, and we can't miss the large silhouette of the General Sandino statue, the famous revolutionary, that stands overlooking the Tiscapa Crater Lake. Next, we head over to the old city to see the National Palace, the Old Cathedral, the National Theatre and the President's house. We will end this tour at the Malecon Puerto Salvador Allende, Managua's favourite hangout, for a drink.

Leon Viejo is our next stop. The first capital of Nicaragua, Leon Viejo (Old Leon) was founded in 1524 by the Spanish conquistadores, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area suffered frequent volcanic activity, culminating in the huge earthquakes of 1594 and 1610. The damage caused to the infrastructure by the 1610 earthquake caused the settlers to hold a referendum, and a decision was made to relocate the city to its present location, about 20 miles to the west. The old city was gradually buried by the continuous expulsions of ash and volcanic stone coming from Momotombo, and by lake sediments. The ruins of Leon Viejo were discovered in 1967 and today we visit the excavated city.

Finally, we head to Leon where we will have an orientation tour on arrival to discover the rich cultural and political history of one of Nicaragua's oldest and most influential cities. Defined by its graceful Spanish colonial architecture and fascinating political history, we will soon discover why Leon is considered to be Nicaragua's historical, cultural, educational and religious capital. The best way to explore this captivating city is by foot, as much of its charm lies in the narrow colonial streets and architecture, art galleries, museums and cafes. Leon's history is fascinating, like no other town in Central America. The town was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt due to volcanic activities, ransacked (and reconstructed!) by pirates, it won and lost its struggle as the most important city in Nicaragua against Managua, and several presidents were assassinated here. It is the place where famous poets are buried, where the largest cathedral in Central America stands, and is a hotbed for revolutionaries due to the big university located in Leon. In this guided walking tour we will visit revolutionary murals, baroque and neoclassical churches and a surprisingly interesting museum of legends, arts and poetry. After the tour, we can climb to the rooftop of Central America's largest cathedral, recently added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, and enjoy astonishing views over the city and the surrounding Maribios Volcanic Chain.

icon Day 3: Free time to explore Leon or optional Cerro Negro hike

Accommodation: Hotel Los Balcones

Meals: Breakfast

Today is free to explore Leon at your own pace, taking in one of the museums or relaxing at one of the cafe's near the main square. Alternatively, you may choose to enjoy one of the optional excursions available in the area. One option is a hike on the nearby Cerro Negro Volcano - one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. The hike takes approximately 1.5hrs at a moderate pace, and there are stunning views across to the Pacific ocean as well as the surrounding countryside. The fun is in bouncing down the volcano, as we run/jump/walk down through the scree. For something less exertive, a visit to the Isla Juan Venado Mangrove Reserve provides the opportunity to spot wildlife including crocodiles, caiman and iguanas.

icon Day 4: Visit San Jacinto en route to San Ramon homestay

Accommodation: UCA San Ramon

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we leave Leon and visit the mud fields of San Jacinto, en route to San Ramon. San Jacinto is a little town about 20 kilometres northeast of Leon; behind the village is boiling mud holes connected to the Telica Volcano. These volcanic fields serve as breathing holes for the nearby volcanoes, forming the area like a Martian landscape (and, in turn, help to prevent future eruptions). It is extremely hot to walk around and see the holes, which differ in size and colour, where the mud is fiercely boiling. The mud sometimes throws little rocks in the air and steam is continuously emitted from the holes. Local people (especially children) are keen to sell you indigenous ceramics and handmade figurines, made fresh from the hot volcanic mud.

Then we continue our journey to San Ramon. San Ramon is located in the mountainous north of the department of Matagalpa. The area was originally settled by the Sumo and Miskito people of the Atlantic Coast, as well as the Chontales Indians. We will spend the night in a homestay. This experience offers a unique chance to get to know more about the culture and daily life of the coffee producers and their communities. You can participate in the process of coffee making and share their everyday lives by learning how to cook local dishes or produce natural medicine, as well as enjoy various cultural events such as music, drama and crafts. You can also explore the local surroundings by taking a walk to the waterfall of Salto Yasica.

icon Day 5: Search for wildlife in the Selva Negra Cloudforest

Accommodation: Hotel Con Corazon

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we enjoy a cloudforest hike (approximately two hours) in Selva Negra or Black Forest. During the walk we will learn about the importance of the rainforest and discover the flora and fauna. Then we head south 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. During colonial times, Granada saw much unrest as the city was attacked several times by pirates. Nowadays Granada is characterised by bright-coloured Spanish-colonial architecture, visible throughout the city centre. The ambiance is very pleasant and there is a wide array of restaurants and bars, especially along the boulevard from the central park to the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

icon Day 6: Discover Granada, optional boat trip on Lake Nicaragua

Accommodation: Hotel Con Corazon

Meals: Breakfast

In the morning, we will enjoy a city tour of Granada. No visit to Granada is complete without a tour of the city's beautiful historic centre and there is no better way to visit it than on foot. Founded by the Spanish in 1524, Granada is considered to be one of the oldest colonial cities in the Western hemisphere. On this walking tour we will explore the San Francisco Church and neighbouring San Francisco Convent built in 1529 (entry optional). We then continue onto the beautiful Merced Church where we will have the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower and take in the spectacular views over the city, Lake Nicaragua and the Mombacho Volcano. Finally, you will see a glimpse of Nicaraguan daily life at the local market.

This afternoon is free. A recommended optional activity is a boat trip through Las Isletas on Lake Nicaragua. A boat trip through the Isletas of Granada is a great way to explore Lake Cocibolca, also known as Lake Nicaragua. Situated at the foot of the impressive Mombacho Volcano, the area we visit consists of around 360 small volcanic islands which were formed when the Mombacho Volcano erupted about 20,000 years ago. These small islands are inhabited by families who make their living from fishing, while other islands are host to extravagant villas owned by Nicaragua's rich and famous. Along the way, the tour guide will explain a lot about the many birds that can be seen here as well as recalling the history of the area.

icon Day 7: Visit the Masaya Volcano and artisan market

Accommodation: Hotel Con Corazon

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we will explore the Masaya region including the Masaya Volcano and artisan market. The Masaya Volcano is still active and is the only volcano in the western hemisphere where it is possible to drive to the rim and see the smoking crater. If we are lucky, we might encounter the extremely rare green parakeets which, strangely, call the volcano home. After visiting the volcano we will visit Masaya's famous and diverse artisan market, where we can find many products quite unique to Nicaragua.

We'll stop for lunch in the small colonial village of Catarina, known for its 'viveros' or nurseries of potted plants that are sold to households across Nicaragua. Our last stop today is San Juan de Oriente, one of the so called 'Pueblos Blancos' with its eye-catching white colonial architecture. This small town is known for its ceramic production, and we'll be able to visit the house of a local family and learn about the delicate process of this traditional art form.

icon Day 8: Travel to Ometepe Island

Accommodation: Playa Venecia

Meals: Breakfast

Today, we transfer to the port of San Jorge, at the shores of Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca as the locals call it, and take the ferry to Isla de Ometepe. The island of Ometepe is situated in one of the world's largest fresh water lakes, Lake Nicaragua. The two volcanoes on the island, Concepcion and Maderas, offer stunning views when approaching Ometepe by boat from the mainland. Both of the volcanoes have their own climate and unique vegetation and hiking either of them is a great way to enjoy spectacular views of the surroundings. We will take a short walk in the Charco Verde Natural Reserve, a protected area located between Ometepe's two volcanoes. The area consists of a lagoon, a beach, and a forest. The reserve is named Charco Verde (Green Puddle) due to the green colour of the lagoon. Many birds find shelter in this part of the island so birding enthusiasts should keep an eye out. The walk is not strenuous and leads up a hill, from where we will have nice views on the surroundings.

icon Day 9: Free day for optional walks or cooking class at a women's co-operative

Accommodation: Playa Venecia

Meals: Breakfast

Today you are at your leisure to make the most of this laidback island. There is plenty to do here, and we have a range of options from active hikes to San Ramon Waterfall, or up the Maderas or Concepcion Volcanoes, to a classic tour of the whole island with a stop for a traditional lunch. For those who want to learn more about the local Nicaraguan way of life at Ometepe, there is the chance to visit a women's co-operative here on the island. They are strongly focused on sustainable and community-based tourism here, and you will take a tour around the medicinal garden, learning about their homemade hibiscus wine and some of the restorative properties of the plants that are used for healing. Following this, you'll have a cooking class with the women to learn about and taste more of the local Nicaraguan cuisine.

icon Day 10: Travel to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast

Accommodation: Gran Oceano Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Today, we take the ferry back to the mainland and continue to San Juan del Sur, in the southwest. San Juan del Sur is one of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua. It used to be a quiet fishing village and has now emerged into one of the country's leading coast destinations, but has still maintained its charm and unique culture. The beaches are great for surfing almost all year long; also snorkelling or sailing trips are offered along the coast.

icon Day 11: Optional surfing lesson or turtle nesting tour (in season)

Accommodation: Gran Oceano Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Today is a free day. You can choose to simply relax or perhaps try your hand at surfing. La Flor Beach is a must to witness mass arrivals of turtles (during the season, August-January). The beach is a protected wildlife reserve because of the massive arrivals of Olive Ridley turtles that take place every year between August and January. Thousands of turtles arrive during certain nights to lay eggs at this one specific beach. About 50 days later, thousands of eggs hatch and the baby turtles try to make their way to the ocean.

icon Day 12: Return to the capital, Managua

Accommodation: Mansión Teodolinda

Meals: Breakfast

Today we return back to the capital, Managua.

icon Day 13: Trip ends in Managua

Meals: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast this morning in Managua.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Managua at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Augusto C. Sandino Airport (MGA), which is approximately a 20 minute drive from our hotel.

What's Included

  • icon
    All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • icon
    Fully Guided

  • icon
    Accommodation

    1 nights simple homestay 11 nights comfortable hotel

  • icon
    Meals

    Breakfasts:12 Lunches:3 Dinners:1

  • icon
    Airport Transfers at Destination

What's Not Included

  • icon
    Tipping and Gratuities

  • icon
    Country Entry Visas

  • icon
    1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

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Got a question? Check out our Q&As

Ask A Question
Are airport transfers included in this tour?

Yes

Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

Yes

What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

1 nights simple homestay 11 nights comfortable hotel

What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

Moderate

Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

Yes

    What is the maximum group size?

    18

    I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

    Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

    Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

    How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

    Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

    Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

    What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

    What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

    What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

    What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

    Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

    What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

    Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

    Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews

Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
a wonderful trip better than I hoped for a wonderful trip better than I hoped for;
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Christopher

20-Apr-2018

Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
Lovely trip. Great experience of a country that I knew little about. Will definitely recommend it as a destination to visit Lovely trip.

Great experience of a country that I knew little about.

Will definitely recommend it as a destination to visit;
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Mary

14-Apr-2018

Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
Good trip - everything went well and I returned home very relaxed Good trip - everything went well and I returned home very relaxed;
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Marion

02-Aug-2020

Travel, Your Way

Good reasons for travelling privately

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    Personalise your trip

    Make changes to the itinerary, accommodation, or transport method

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    Increased safety during COVID

    Spend the majority of time amongst your group to reduce exposure to others

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    Travel more exclusively

    Your tour guide can focus all their attention on your group

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    Travel for a special occasion

    Celebrate an important event by only travelling with your friends or family

Dates & Availability

Oct 10, 2021

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Oct 22, 2021

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Jan 23, 2022

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