Nicaragua's Wildlife and Nature Exploration | Trip Itinerary

Note:  This tour is a suggested, customized itinerary that is very flexible. We can make changes in hotels, excursions and destinations to suit your travel dates, style and budget.

Day 1:  Arrival to Managua airport. Meet our local representative after you have cleared immigration and customs formalities. Transfer a short distance to your select hotel for an overnight stay. (B)

Day 2: Private transfer to Granada with visits to Masaya Volcano National Park & Masaya Market en-route
After breakfast meet your private guide for your transfer to Granada. Your first stop will be the Masaya Volcano. You drive past old lava flows right up to the top of the volcano. From here it is just a short walk for an up-close view of the Santiago crater, which has been active since 1946. Learn from your local expert how the bird species Aratinga Strenua manages to live in the toxic crater walls as well as the history of the Spanish priests who explored the volcano and the superstitious beliefs held by the natives who inhabited the area.

After enjoying the magnificent Masaya Volcano, you will continue to Masaya Artisan’s Market. Nicaragua is rich in handicrafts, and you’ll have a chance to browse the stalls of this comfortable market as you search for the perfect gifts and souvenirs to remind you of this lovely country. Continue a short distance to the charming town of Granada. Check-in to your select hotel for a 3-night stay. Free evening. (B, L)

Day 3: Granada city tour; Chocolate workshop and boat ride thru Las Isletas.
After Breakfast you will enjoy a city tour of Granada. Granada was founded in 1524, is the oldest European settlement in the Americas. Walk around the main square and admire La Merced church, the famed convent of San Francisco where you’ll have the opportunity to see the mysterious stone idols, made by our Indian ancestors, as well as an impressive collection of genuine pre-Columbian sculptures.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, followed by your afternoon. “Chocolate Cooking Class”
Everybody knows about Belgian, Swiss or French chocolate but have you ever heard about Nicaraguan chocolate? Originally from Central America, this plant has an extraordinary history; it was one of the most important products for the Mayan and Aztec cultures, as well as other Central American cultures. The discovery of America led to the introduction of chocolate in Europe, transforming it into the product we all know today. At Choco Museum we will follow all the processes to make chocolate from fermented organic cacao beans. We will learn how to roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine and mold. At the end of the 2 hours’ workshop, you will leave with a sample of your very own handmade Nicaraguan chocolate. Don’t miss an original opportunity to learn how to prepare Chocolate!

After your chocolate class you will transfer down to the pier on Lake Nicaragua for a leisurely boat ride trip through "Las Isletas" where you can observe local inhabitants going about their daily lives, and observe the many varieties of birds that inhabit the lake.  Late afternoon return to your hotel.  Your evening is free to explore the many restaurants & night life of Granada, and enjoy a stroll in the plaza to shop the handicraft vendors.  (B, L)

Day 4: Mombacho volcano and coffee farm visit.
For our visit, we go first to the foot of the mountain where we meet the park rangers. Then we will switch vehicles and start our way up to the top on a four-wheel drive. The adventure begins on a paved road and right from the start we will be surprised by the biodiversity of this natural reserve. This enormous cloud forest is full of luxurious vegetation which has managed to grow over the centuries since the last volcanic activity.  When we reach the summit—at just over 4400’--we will understand why this ecosystem is a cloud forest. The park keeper will give instructions to everyone so we can enjoy our visit. We will then take the “El Puma” trail, which is about four kilometers long, and it takes an average of 3-4 hours.

This trail is designed for those visitors that want to spend more time in contact with nature in the reserve and that are willing to accept the physical challenge of “El Puma”. (Optional shorter trails of .6 or 1.2 miles are also offered)
The trail enters the virgin area of the cloud forest, it borders the main crater of the volcano which in its center has a fumarole that permanently emits sulfur learn a lot about the flora, the fauna, the ancient people who lived there and the Vulcan logy of the area. If the day is clear enough, we will visit an impressive viewpoint to observe the plain pacific region of Nicaragua, the neighboring city of Granada and the great lake of Nicaragua and its islands. When we return from our walk, we will visit the biological station where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or purchase snacks.  Next is a visit to the “Cutirre” coffee farm located close to the on-site restaurant, followed by lunch. Our guide will let us know when it is time to board the vehicle that will transport us back to the foot of the mountain. **Optional zip-line canopy tour can be added here—must be reserved and paid in advance/with your final payment. We highly recommend the zip line for those that want experience a unique perspective of the area while enjoying this exhilarating experience.

In the late afternoon, return to your Granada hotel.  (B, L)

Day 5: Granada to Rio San Juan/San Carlos. After breakfast depart with your private guide for the overland transfer to San Carlos –about 4 hours. We’ll stop along the way to view any interesting nature and wildlife that presents itself. Arrive to San Carlos in time for lunch at a local restaurant before your private boat transfer of approximately 1.5 hours along the Rio San Juan to El Castillo town.  Check-in to the Luna del Rio Hotel for a 2-night stay.  This evening you’ll experience a Caiman night tour with bilingual local guide.  Enjoy this unique experience of searching caiman under the moonlight and accompanied by only a specialist guide.

In the darkness and melody that Rio San Juan nightlife offers you the opportunity to discover --with just a spotlight--alligators through the color of your eyes, plus all the features of their habitat, plus all the features of their habitat.
Dinner tonight is included at a local restaurant in El Castillo (B, L, D)

Day 6:  Indio Maiz Nature Reserve tour + El Castillo town & fortress
The Indio Maiz Biological Reserve is considered one of the best-preserved natural reserves in Nicaragua. The area is located in the southeast corner of the country, bordering the San Juan River. The reserve encompasses 3,180 km², and it is home to a wide variety of rainforest animals.
Among the animals that live in the forest are hundreds of different bird species, including toucans, hummingbirds, macaws, parrots, and many other spectacular, colorful species. The reserve is also inhabited by beautiful mammals like deer, sloths, wild boars, pumas, jaguars, pacas, foxes, and even one spectacular aquatic mammal: manatees. All of the three monkey species that live in Nicaragua can be found in the Indio Maiz Reserve (Howler, White-Face, and Spider Monkey). Other animal species that can be found in this area include poison dart frogs, snakes, crocodiles, turtles, and iguanas.
Wildlife is spectacular and many tropical animals can be easily seen. Another option is to stay in the boat and go up the Bartola River. The Indio Maíz Reserve is situated right next to this river, and from the boat it is also possible to spot beautiful animals and enjoy the impressive forest. Especially birds can be easily seen when traveling up the river by boat, and it is not uncommon to see dozens of different species during one trip.

Picnic lunch at the Reserve, after lunch back to El Castillo and know the town including the visit to El Castillo Fortress.

El Castillo Tour: Escorted by a guide from the Castillo, you would visit and interact with the people of the zone. The guide will explain about the customs, gastronomy & myths. Visit the historic fortress El Castillo de la Inmaculada Concepcion. It was built by the Spanish on XVIII century for stop the English pirates. 
Enjoy the travel on San Juan River. Keep your eyes open because you will see jumping the great tarpon fish, herons, alligators, cormorant and pink birds (Espatulas Rosadas).  Return to El Castillo town for dinner and overnight. (B, BL, D)

Day 7:  Rio San Juan/San Carlos/Solentiname. Private Unescorted transfer from El Castillo by boat to San Carlos town. Upon arrival into San Carlos pier, you will change boats before continuing to the Solentiname Islands. Check-in to the Cabanas Paraiso on San Fernando Island for a 2-night stay.

After lunch, your local guide will lead you to an afternoon tour to visit the main Islands, local museum and the artist work houses. Today you will witness and learn how from the 1970’s, under the leadership of Ernesto Cardenal, priest, poet and former Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, a group of fishermen and country folk developed a painting school that became known as Escuela Primitivista de Solentiname. This form of art has become world famous, keep your eyes open for the incredible bird life. (B, L, D)

Day 8:  Private half day boat trip to Los Guatuzos Reserve, and afternoon at leisure.
After breakfast you start your trip by boat to Los Guatuzos research center, located on the southern shores of Lake Nicaragua and the western shores of the San Juan River. Most impressive in the reserve is the super-rich bird life, but monkeys; sloth, caiman, iguanas and agouti are also common. Once at the station get ready for your 2 hours trip to enjoy nature and it’s wonder at this primitive forest.  Return to San Fernando Island for lunch, with the rest of the afternoon to explore on your own the surroundings.  Dinner Included. (B, L, D)

Day 9:  Private/unguided transfer to the town of San Carlos and on to the Costa Rican border /Las Tabillas located just south of the town. After border crossing formalities you’ll meet your Costa Rican guide/driver for the next part of your trip.
** Your options here are wide open---you can simply spend one night near the border—Perhaps El Tenorio Lodge—before traveling the next day to the Liberia airport for your flight back home. Or continue to the Pacific Coast to spend a few days at the beach & surroundings. Or explore the area of the  Arenal volcano on your way San Jose. We will work with you to design the prefect “post-Nicaragua” visit. (B)

OR--for and additional cost-return via Granada/Managua for your international flights:
Day 9: Solentiname to Granada. Transfer from Solentiname back to San Carlos where you’ll meet your guide for transfer back north to Granada. Check in to your select hotel for a free afternoon & overnight in Granada. (B)

Day 10:  Transfer to Managua airport.  After breakfast you will meet our private speaking Spanish driver for your transfer to the Managua airport. Travel time is approximately 55 minutes. (B)

B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner


2023 Departures

Daily/ on request


Moderate hotels
4 people/2 rooms
from $1575 p/p
2 people/1 room
from $2195 p/p

Superior hotels
4 people/2 rooms
from $1675 p/p
2 people/1 room
from $2295 p/p

Travel Style
recommended custom itinerary