Day 1

U.S. / Managua, Nicaragua / Leon

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

Day 2

Juan Venado Island Reserve / Leon

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. Since there is no human population residing on the island, we enjoy the sense of peaceful seclusion. Return 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. (B,L,D)

Day 3

Selva Negra Private Reserve

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. Our afternoon is spent on one of the many trails, 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. (B,L,D)

Days 4 & 5

Selva Negra Private Reserve

Spend the morning strolling on trails through the cloud forest. Later we tour the coffee plantation, learning about the processes harvesting their shade-grown coffee. 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 6

Selva Negra / Granada

Make our way to Granada, on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. 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. You will have the opportunity to walk around the main plaza to see La Merced church, Zamora family home, Casa de Los Tres Mundos and the San Francisco convent. At the convent, we have the opportunity to learn about the mysterious, pre-Columbian idols. While strolling through the city, learn about its colorful history, including the 1855 invasion by William Walker. Spend tonight at the Hotel Dario or Hotel Plaza Colon, our home for the next three nights. (B,L)

Day 7

Montibelli Private Reserve / Chocoyero Reserve

Spend a full day exploring the tropical dry forests of the Montibelli Private Reserve and Chocoyero 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. Spend the afternoon at Chocoyero Reserve, home to hummingbirds, toucans, wrens, deer, agouti and its most famous inhabitant the “Chocoyo Coludo” — or green parakeet. Over 800 of these marvelous birds live and nest on a rocky wall of a waterfall in the park. Search in the lush vegetation of the canopy for howler monkeys and white-faced capuchins, and be on the look-out for small cat species such as tigrillo and gato del monte. (B,L,D)

Day 8

Lake Nicaragua / Masaya Reserve

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. Spend some time browsing in the Masaya Market before continuing on our evening excursion to Masaya Volcano. After gazing across the volcano and surrounding landscape from our vantage point at La Cruz de Bobadilla, observe the green parakeets that roost on the volcano. These birds have adapted to the sulfur smoke and actually live within the crater. As dusk approaches, we also watch as a large numbers of bats depart en masse from their caves. Descend into an underground tunnel formed by lava streams. Equipped with flashlights and helmets, we observe interesting rock formations. Our Nicaragua tour ends with a stop to look inside the crater mouth, seeing the glowing, red lava before our farewell dinner in Masaya. (B,L,D)

Day 9

Granada / U.S.

Transfer to the airport in Managua to board your flights to the U.S. (B, Meals Aloft)