2016 Nicaragua Itinerary


Day 1

U.S. / Managua, Nicaragua / Granada

Travel to Nicaragua independently, landing in Managua to begin your Nicaragua tour. You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to Granada, where you have the rest of the day at leisure. Spend the next three nights at Hotel Plaza Colon. (Meals Aloft)

Day 2

Granada: Lake Nicaragua and Pueblos Blancos

This morning enjoy a relaxing boat ride around the islands of Lake Nicaragua, formed by Mombacho Volcano, observing the local bird life and people of the islands. Named after the city Granada in Spain, this atmospheric city features colonial churches clustered around narrow streets and large homes with beautiful patios and tiled roofs. On a guided excursion, your guide will take you back in time as you learn about the city as you walk the main plaza to see La Merced church, Zamora family home, Casa de Los Tres Mundos and the San Francisco convent. At the convent, learn about the mysterious, pre-Columbian idols while your guide tells you about the 1855 invasion by William Walker.

This afternoon, drive south of Granada, enjoying sweeping views of Masaya Volcano and the lush landscape, to the White Cities (Pueblos Blancos) of Catarina and San Juan de Oriente. In Catarina, plants and flowers line the roads like colored ribbons, making Catarina look like a gigantic flower garden. See the Mirador de Catarina, which offers wonderful views of the Apoyo Lagoon, Granada, Lake Nicaragua and the many surrounding volcanoes. San Juan de Oriente is a small town near Catarina and important for local pottery. (B,L,D)


Day 3

Granada: Montibelli Private Reserve

Spend the morning exploring the tropical dry forests of the Montibelli Private Reserve. Montibelli is an award-wining privately owned park and arguably one of the best forest reserves in the Pacific basin for bird watching. 156 species of fauna have been identified here, including endangered species such as mono congo, sahin, guatusa, parrot of the Pacific, and six species of hummingbird. Here we may spot manikins, trogons and Nicaragua’s national bird Guardaborranco – the turquoise browed motmot. The park is also known for an abundance of butterflies. Enjoy an afternoon and evening at leisure to explore Granada on your own. (B,L)


Days 4 

Laguna de Apoyo / San Juan del Sur

Enjoy a morning at Laguna de Apoyo, a lovely, thermally heated lake in the crater of the Apoyo Volcano. The protected tropical humid forests around Laguna de Apoyo are home to colorful birds such as white-throated magpie jay, tropical kingbird, Montezuma oropendula, great kiskadee, aracaris and Guardabarranco — turquoise browed motmot. This forest is also home to a variety of tree species, including kapoks, elephant’s ear trees, Central American cedar, peeling tree and sea almond trees and others. On naturalist-guided hikes, watch for groups of howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, and several species of butterflies, insects and lizards. Continue to San Juan del Sur this afternoon, where we check into the Victoriano Hotel for two nights. (B,L,D)


Day 5

La Flor Reserve

Spend out morning at La Flor Reserve along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. From July through December, more than 100,000 Olive Ridley nests are laid on this beach. The reserve is also an important nesting area for hawksbill, leatherback and green sea turtles. The area is also home to brown pelicans, parrots and magnificent frigatebirds, as well as multiple primate species. The afternoon is at leisure for you to enjoy San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua's most famous beach town. (B,L,D)


Day 6


Drive to Leon and tour this colonial city, first settled in 1524. The city has existed in its current location since 1610, when it was moved after being destroyed during an eruption of Momotombo Volcano. During our tour, see the monumental cathedral, the largest in Central America, located at the main square, the birth place of Ruben Dario and the Ortiz Gurdian art gallery. This walking tour is the perfect time to learn about this city’s historic murals as well as its role in the social, economic and political development of Nicaragua. At Hervideros de San Jacinto, feel the heat rising from the interior of the Earth, and observe the impressive mud boiling inside these craters. Spend tonight at Hotel El Convento. (B,L,D)


Day 7

Juan Venado Island Reserve / Selva Negra Private Reserve

Explore Juan Venado Island Reserve, a protected area forming part of the country’s vital coastal wetland region. From Las Peñitas beach, our naturalist leads a two-hour private boat ride along this barrier island and the mangrove swamps separating it from the coast. This area provides the ideal home for an abundance of animal life, including water birds, caiman, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and more. From May to November, the estuary of Isla Juan Cenado is a vital nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles. Since there is no human population residing on the island, we enjoy the sense of peaceful seclusion. As we explore more of Nicaragua, ecotourism enthusiasts will love our time in the cloud forest at Selva Negra EcoLodge, a sustainable coffee plantation and wildlife preserve. Nestled in the central highlands, we spend two nights in this private reserve. (B,L,D)


Day 8

Selva Negra Private Reserve

Spend the morning strolling on trails through the cloud forest where we hope to spot some of the bird species attracted by the reserve’s fruiting trees. Since the property is situated along the continental divide between the Pacific and Atlantic lowlands, our sightings could include a mix of both Pacific and Atlantic-slope bird species. Later we tour the coffee plantation, learning about the processes harvesting their shade-grown coffee. This extensive tour begins First we go through the wet mill, where you can see the receiving, depulping, fermentation and washing process of the coffee, you can also see the canal for sorting coffee, the pre-drying patio as well as the transporter for the coffee pulp. There is also the pipeline system for the contaminated coffee water (honey water).

Then we will take you to see the installation where the coffee water will be cleaned up (uncontaminated), there are the concrete bins, the biogas system the oxygenation lake and also part of the flower greenhouses. From here we go on a road the leads to the next farms, that are part of Selva Negra coffee plantation to then continue through the pastureland where you will receive an explanation on how the intensive pasture ranching works, the usage of electric fencing with solar energy, the constant rotation to upgrade the small lots of pastureland, the shade planted in the area and why it is useful. During the afternoons, we are back on the trails surrounding the reserve looking for butterflies, howler monkeys, agoutis and over 220 bird species, including keel-billed toucans, blue-winged warblers and hummingbirds. One evening, enjoy an enriching lecture on Nicaragua ecotourism and the local ecological efforts being led by owners of the lodge. (B,L,D Daily)


Day 9

Selva Negra / Managua

Spend another morning on one of the many lovely and well-maintained trails at Selva Negra Reserve. This afternoon drive to Managua in time for lunch and to explore the city.  Discover the capital of Nicaragua as we survey the ruins of the Old Cathedral and Rubén Darío National Theatre, see the National Palace of Culture, home to the National Archive, the National Library and the National Museum. Spend tonight at the distinct Elements Hotel Boutique. (B,L,D)


Day 10

Managua / Depart

Transfer to the airport in Managua to board your independent flight home. (B, Meals Aloft)