The Best of Nicaragua
"The Land of Lakes & Volcanoes" combines stunning natural beauty with a rich political and cultural history to make Nicaragua one of Central America's most exciting destinations. From the colonial cities of Grenada and Leon to the expansive waters of Lago Cocibolca and twin volcanoes of Ometepe Island; from the rugged Pacific Coast to the tranquil waters of the Caribbean...get off the beaten track and enjoy the complete Nicaragua.
Day 1 Managua/Leon
Reception at Managua Airport and transfer to your accommodation in Leon.
The colonial city of Leon was founded by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in the year 1524 next to Lake Xolotlan and the active Momotombo volcano. The city was actually built next to the town known as Imabite but in the year 1610 it was moved to its current location after being destroyed by a series of earthquakes from the Momotombo volcano and the city was basically buried. The ruins were found in the year 1967 and were recently declared Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Day 2 Leon
Depart this morning on a full day tour of Leon City, Leon Viejo & the volcanic fields of San Jacinto, with all local entries and lunch at Cana Brava restaurant included.
Learn about the early history of the first capital city of Nicaragua in Leon Viejo. On the hill where the fort is buried, enjoy a breathtaking view of the Momotombo volcano and Lake Xolotlan. Continue to the city of Leon to see the main churches including the monumental cathedral, the largest in Central America, located at the main square. See the birdhouse of Ruben Dario, the “Ortiz Gurdian” art gallery and “El Convento” hotel and its colonial architecture. During the walking tour get to know the historic murals of the city and understand the role played by Leon in the social, economic and political development of Nicaragua. Finally, visit the “Hervideros de San Jacinto”, where you’ll see the boiling mud inside the craters and experience the heat coming up from the interior of the earth. Return to Leon this afternoon and overnight.
Day 3 Leon
Day at leisure to relax and explore the city
Day 4 Leon/Granada
After breakfast you will be met at your hotel and transferred by private vehicle to Granada. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore this beautifully preserved colonial city.
Day 5 Granada/Granada
Depart this morning on a half day guided tour of Granada City and Las Isletas, with local entries, your boat trip and lunch at Zaguan restaurant included today.
Visit “La Merced” church, the house of the Zamora family, the famous “Casa de Los Tres Mundos” and the San Francisco convent, where you will see the impressive collection of genuine pre-Columbian sculptures in human and animal shapes. We learn about the history of the city, and the adventures of filibuster William Walker, who invaded the city in the year 1855. Continue to Lake Nicaragua for a relaxing boat ride around some of the islands formed by the impressive Mombacho volcano. See the volcanic evidence and influence of the area and enjoy the beautiful landscape and wildlife. Return to your hotel this afternoon and overnight.
Day 6 Granada/Granada
We depart this morning on a full day tour of Masaya Volcano, Masaya markets and San Juan del Oriente, with National Park entry fees and lunch at El Filete restaurant included.
Drive to the Masaya National Park, the first in the country and home to the beautiful volcanic lake of Laguna Masaya. On arrival into the park, we begin the see the influence of volcanic activity on shaping the landscape. Visit the environmental interpretation centre and learn about the history of this region and the fauna and flora that inhabit it.
Travel by road the the volcanoes summit, and continue by foot the Santiago Crater, active since 1946. Explore the surrounding area, before continuing to the nearby Masaya Markets, where you can shop for handmade hammocks, ceramics, wood carvings and leather souvenirs. Finally, we return to Granada via the city of San Juan del Oriente and the nearby Catarina, famous for their excellent ceramics.
Day 7 Granada/Granada
Day at leisure to relax and explore the city
Day 8 Granada/Ometepe
You will be met at your hotel this morning and be transferred by private vehicle to the city of San Jorge, where you will board a ferry to Moyogalpa, on Ometepe Island. On arrival in Moyogalpa, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation at the Villa Paraiso Hotel, where your lunch is included today.
The twin volcanoes of Concepcion and Maderas rise from the waters of Lake Nicaragua to form Ometepe Island. Volcan Concepcion is still considered active and has the most perfectly formed symmetrical cone in all of Central America, while the heavily forested slopes of the extinct Maderas are home to monkeys, parrots, squirrels and brightly coloured butterflies. The island is steeped in mythological legend and has more folkloric and religious festivals then anywhere else in Nicaragua.
Day 9 Ometepe
Depart this morning on a full day tour of the island, with lunch included. Visit the Museum of Ometepe in the town of Altagracia and learn about the history of the people who live on the island. Continue to Charco Verde Reserve where we hike through the forest and look for troops of monkeys in the tree tops. After lunch, we continue to El Porvenir, a farm with outstanding views and many petroglyhps dotted around the property. Rest under the tropical mango, avocado and palm trees while your guide explains the role of these plants in traditional native celebrations. Return to your hotel and overnight.
Day 10 Ometepe
Depart early from your hotel this morning for a challenging and rewarding hike up the Maderas Volcano, with entry fees and a packed lunch included. This is a moderate hike that demands a reasonable level of fitness; good walking shoes are a must! The ascent takes around four hours, and around 2-3 hours to return.
Along the way, you will see the many species of plants and animals that inhabit the forest, more then anywhere else on the island. At the top of the volcano, your efforts are rewarded with views of the lovely crater lake, which, shrouded in a thin layer of mist and surrounded by thick green forest, is exceptionally beautiful. Return to your hotel after descending the volcano and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day 11 Ometepe
Day at leisure to relax and enjoy the island.
Day 12 Ometepe /San Juan del Sur
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the port of Moyogalpa and assisted in boarding a ferry to San Jorge. From San Jorge, you be transferred by private vehicle to the beach side town of San Juan del Sur and to your accommodation.
Day 13 San Juan del Sur
This morning your rental car will be delivered to your hotel.
The rest of the day is free to explore the Pacific beaches nearby – we recommend Majagual and Brito to the north and El Coco and La Flor to the south of San Juan del Sur.
Day 14 San Juan del Sur
Day at leisure to continue your explorations with the rental car
Day 15 San Juan del Sur
Day at leisure to continue your explorations with the rental car.
Day 16 San Juan del Sur /Managua
Depart this morning with your rental car and drive to the capital of Managua, where you will drop off the rental car and transfer to your accommodation. The afternoon is at leisure to explore this sprawling city.
Day 17 Managua/Corn Islands
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Great Corn Island. On arrival at Corn Island, take a taxi to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
The Corn Islands are two islands 70 kilometers off the Caribbean Coast, across from the city of Bluefields. These two islands offer a superb opportunity to see the Caribbean side of Nicaragua in a beautiful and mostly unexplored environment. The regular “Caribbean” features are all present: turquoise water, white beaches, green palm trees and stunning reefs and marine life.
The islands are a perfect place to undertake adventurous sports like diving or sea fishing, but they are also a great spot to relax, enjoy the beach, and tranquilly explore the surroundings. Temperatures hover around 30oC year-round.
Day 18 Corn Islands
Free day to relax and explore. Talk to hotel staff about renting bicycles or snorkeling gear and check out the beautiful sites, both on the island and underwater!
Day 19 Corn Islands
Free day to relax and explore. Consider catching the ferry to neighbouring Little Corn Island- Located some 15 kilometers northeast of Big Corn, Little Corn Island certainly fits the bill as a little, tropical paradise. The island measures only 2.9 square kilometers and it lacks roads, cars, and TVs. Electricity is only available during certain hours, and most of the island’s surface is covered with forest.
Several hotels and some restaurants are set at different corners of the island. People looking for a tropical getaway from city noise, stress, and worries will definitely find the tranquility they are looking for. Again the white beaches and rich, turquoise water bring great possibilities for sea and beach activities.
Swimming, diving, and snorkeling can all be practiced here. There are also several diving operators at Little Corn Island to hire equipment or obtain PADI certification. Other activities include strolling down the beach, exploring the island, and enjoying the night life in one of the beach bars.
Day 20 Corn Islands
Day at leisure to continue exploring the island
Day 21 Corn Islands/Managua
Catch a taxi back to the airport this morning for your flight to Managua. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation with the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 22 Managua
Depart this morning on a half day tour of Managua City, with local entry fees included. Visit the “National Historic Park Loma de Tiscapa”, where we learn about the often troubled history of Nicaragua, including the legacy of the Somoza dictatorship and the national hero Augusto Cesar Sandino, who gave rise to the revolutionary Sandinista movement.
See the ruins of old presidential palace, destroyed by the earthquake that leveled the city in 1972, and drive down to the old city center to visit the “Park of Peace”, an important symbol of the peace Nicaraguans now enjoy. Visit “El Malecon”, for views of Lake Managua, and see the monument to Simon Bolivar, National Theater Ruben Dario, New Presidential House, Palace of Culture and other important buildings. Return to your hotel this afternoon and overnight.
Day 23 Managua
Transfer to the airport this morning for your onwards flight.
Daily Insurance, petrol and compulsory deposit not included
- 22 nights Superior Tourist Class accommodation with hotel taxes & service charges
- Private transfers to/ from hotels with English-speaking guides
- Tours as indicated with local entry fees included
- Return ferry tickets to Ometepe Island
- 3 days car hire with unlimited kilometres
- Return air tickets Managua/ Corn Island/ Managua
- 22 breakfasts, 4 lunches