Illustration Culture et traditions / INFOS

Authentic Nicaragua

Our Suggestion of Itineraries to Discover Nicaragua in 15 days

This 15 day itinerary, accompanied by an English speaking driver, is focused on getting back to basics: taking the time to discovering the flora, fauna, and traditions and ways of life of the country’s population.

You’ll have the opportunity to come into direct contact with locals and their daily lives as you visit different natural reserves throughout the country.

Discover the unmissable wonders of Nicaragua such as the Isletas de Granada or the Laguna de Apoyo… Or take a trip to the the lava lake of the Masaya volcano: observe the depths of the earth and feel it’s strength and energy–one the only place in the world where one can observe this phenomenon so easily!

Accommodations are charming and offer a great opportunity to exchange with locals, especially in the evenings, or to meet with the hotels owners who are committed to respecting and preserving the environment.

Length of stay: 15 days

Kind: Authentic

Fix: simple

Countries visited: Nicaragua

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Day 1 : Managua

Welcome to Nicaragua!

Arrival at Managua International Airport.

Then, your private transfer will drive you to your hotel in Managua.

Note: Plan for $10 in cash per person to pay the entry tax.


Night at hotel Casa Inti.

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Day 2 : Ometepe Island

In the morning, leave  Managua and drive to the port of San Jorge, Rivas. Travel by ferry to the island of Ometepe.

Note: About 2h30 drive and 1h15 crossing.

Charco Verde Park

Arrive in the Charco Verde Park, ocated at the bottom of the Concepcion volcano. Enjoy walking along the Charco Verde lagoon and Lake Nicaragua as you gaze over the Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes. Here, you’ll have the chance to observe monkeys and exotic birds of all kinds.

On your way back, head into the butterfly reserve, where the 1 200m²  rooms can fit more than 3,000 species of butterflies!

Suggestion: Watch the sunset over the lake!

At the end of the day, we recommend a stop at the Punta Maria Jesus. A kilometer strip of land heading into lake, this is the perfect spot  admire the sunset: with the lake on one side, and the Concepcion volcano on the other.

Note: Sunset occurs between 5 and 6 PM.

Night in the community of Puesta del Sol.

Private room in a family house.

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Day 3 : Ometepe Island

San Ramón Waterfall

The San Ramon waterfall is located on the South side of the Maderas volcano, on the Ometepe Island 4kms away from the little village of San Ramon. To reach this waterfall, you’ll have to hike through the wooded part of the volcano. Once arrived, jump in for swim (water level permitting)!

Note: 2 Hour Hike

Note 2: The best season is between March and November, the rainy season.

Local guide included.

Kayak on the Rio Istian

Head out on a guided kayaking adventure down the Rio Istian, an ecosystem located between the two volcanoes of the island.

As you on the largest lake of Nicaragua, observe the different properties that dot the shoreline. As you approach the isthmus, enter a small water current where the vegetation is lush and green. In this mangrove, you’ll be able to admire several birds, caimans and monkeys up close.

On the way back, you will be surrounded by the two majestic volcanoes and a panoramic view of the lake.

Duration: 3 hours.

Night in the community of Puesta del Sol.

Private room in a family house.

Traditional dance show included.

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Day 4 : Granada

Free time on the island of Ometepe. Then head to the port of Moyogalpa to take the ferry to San Jorge, Rivas. Head to your hotel in Granada.

Note 1: About 1 hour by boat and 1h30 on the road.

Free time to discover Granada.

We suggest you to discover this colonial jewel on foot or by horsedrawan carriage. You can visit the Cathedral, the church of La Merced and the Church Xalteva, around which the city of Granada was originally built.

Then, dive into the colorful stalls of central market.

Before continuing your exploration of the city, make a stop at the Central Place to try a traditional Nicaraguan “vigoron” under the shady trees.

In the afternoon continue your tour with a visit to the Polvora fortress, where you can enjoy a magnificent view over the Calle Real. Before you go, we highly recommend you try a delicious cocktail with Flor de Caña on the Calle de Calzada.

Night at hotel La Pergola.

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Day 5 : Granada - Masaya

Discovery of Las Isletas

Half day dedicated to the discovery of the Archipelago de las isletas, set of 365 islands off the coast of Granada.

You will leave by boat to sail between these islets. Today Nicaraguans have established their vacation homes here.

There are nearly 400 basalt (a fine grained volcanic rock) islands! You’ll enjoy an excellent view of the proud Mombacho volcano and  observe many different kinds of wildlife.

 Duration: approximately 2 hours.

Discover the Pueblos Blancos, the small villages around Masaya, famous for their handicrafts.

From pottery and leather goods to hammocks, take in the the colors of the local handicrafts!

Wander between Catarina and San Juan de Oriente to observe these small shops, often situated on the porches of the houses. If you’d like, you can also stop to visit a black ceramic workshop–a specialty of the region!

From Catarina, enjoy the panoramic view of the Laguna de apoyo from the belvedere. Walk down the sides of the lagoon to reach the restaurant El Paso del Tren, located halfway up.

Laguna de Apoyo

You will have the opportunity to relax at the Laguna de Apoyo.

From relaxing and swimming to kayaking, enjoy the calm of this ancient volcanic crater, now filled with fresh water.

Note: Entrance included.

The Masaya Volcano at night!

At 54km² above sea level with 20km of hiking trails, the Masaya Volcan National Park is where you’ll learn what’s been going on under your feet!

Counting 5 craters, the Masaya Volcan is called “Popogatepe” by the indigenous Nahault. It is the most accessible active volcano in the world!

This tour is all about discovering the volcano . Take off at sunset with the end of the day’s light to observe the lave a lake and local wildlife (parrots, bats and more!)

Head back to your hotel.

Note: Entry wait times average minutes.

Note 2: Once you’ve entered the park, you have a total of 15 minutes on site.

Night at hotel La Pergola.

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Day 6 : Granada - Volcan Mombacho

El Crater self-guided hike on the Mombacho volcano.

We suggested you discover the wetlans of the Mombacho Volcano.

Overlooking Granada, the Mobmacho Volcano is composed of four volcanic craters with the highest peak at 1,345 meters!

Head to the entrance of the Mombacho Volcano where hop in a 4×4 truck ride through the hiking trails of the only rain forest on the Pacific coast of Central America.

Explore the hearth of this aytypical ecosystem!

Nearly 150 species of orchids, 50 types of mammals and 120 species of butterflies have been identified here.

Visit a museum to learn more about the volcano’s formation!

Note : 1 hour 30 minute self-guided hike; medium difficulty.

1000m of altitude. The weather is cooler up top, be prepared.

Discover the Secrets of Artisanal Chocolate Making.

Meet with Donald in a community near the Mombacho volcano.

From the cocoa beans to the chocolate we all know and love, you’ll learn all the steps in the process!

Duration: 1 hour workshop. 

Lunch in the community included.

Night at hotel La Pergola.

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Day 7 : Matagalpa - La Dalia

In the morning, departure from Granada to La Dalia, in the North of the country.

Note : 3 hours 30 minute drive.

During your stay at La Sombra Ecolodge, take part in one or several of the following activities:

– Early morning walk (06:00 am) to observe the birdlife on the finca,

– Tour of the Eden waterfall

– Learn process coffee production (depending on the season)

– Discover the coffee plantation and participate in the picking

– Haike on paths Bejuco and Matapalo

– Visit a butterfly greenhouse or the frog vivarium (an area where frogs are raised for research!)

– Hike the Peñas Blancas reserve  (1 hour car ride away)

Night at hotel Sombra Ecolodge.

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Day 8 : Matagalpa - La Dalia

During your stay at La Sombra Ecolodge, take part in one or several of the following activities:

– Early morning walk (06:00 am) to observe the birdlife on the finca,

– Tour of the Eden waterfall

– Learn process coffee production (depending on the season)

– Discover the coffee plantation and participate in the picking

– Haike on paths Bejuco and Matapalo

– Visit a butterfly greenhouse or the frog vivarium (an area where frogs are raised for research!)

– Hike the Peñas Blancas reserve  (1 hour car ride away)

Night at hotel Sombra Ecolodge.

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Day 9 : Esteli - Miraflor

In the morning, leave La Dalia to continue your journey of the Northern lands heading to Matagalpa.

Note : 1 hour drive.

Drive through Matagalpa and as you head North in the direction of Jinotega, then the natural reserve of Miraflor.

Note : 95 km, roughly a 2 hours and 15 minutes drive.

Miraflor is a unique natural reserve situated in approximately 30 kilometers from the city of Estelí, 800 and 1450m above sea level. The park is 254 km² and three different climates are present here: a dry zone in the lower altitudes, an intermediate wet zone and a dominant cold forest zone.

One of the main attractions of this reserve is it’s rich biodiversity. Here you’ll find more than 200 species of orchids!

You’ll also discover the ecological agriculture, the café culture and the exotic flowers. With a little luck, you might meet the famously discret Quetzal! You’ll have the possibility going hiking in this mountainous region and enjoying some of the panoramic views of the Esteli valley or bathing in one of the local waterfalls.

Night in the community.

Rustic comfort.

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Day 10 : Esteli - Miraflor

Hiking day in the Miraflor nature reserve.

In the morning, departure with your local guide to discover the different ecosystems of this still little known reserve!

Start the hike by crossing a tropical rain forest before arriving at a viewpoint.

Then, continue towards an orchid garden where the more adventurous can also climb inside a tree!

Take a picnic lunch at the edge of natural pools and a waterfall, before looping back to your starting via various local plantations.

Return to your hotel at the end of the day.

Night in the community.

Rustic comfort.

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Day 11 : Somoto

From the Miraflor Nature Reserve head northwest towards Somoto.

 Note: 80 km – 2 hours drive approximately.

Somoto Canyon

Located 2 hours north of Esteli, Somoto Canyon was first discovered a few years ago by scientists. Its 4.7km long fault, up to 100m deep, shelters the source of the Rio Coco which flows into the Caribbean Sea.

We suggest you discover this site on an aquatic hike: a combination of hiking and swimming in the canyon!  You’ll end your trip through the canyon by boat.

Equipment and local guide included.

Note : The excursion lasts approximately 3 to 4 hours.

Night in the hotel Los Arcos.

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Day 12 : Esteli - Tisey Estanzuela

The tropical forest of the Tisey Estanzuela Nature Reserve has a rich and abundant flora and fauna, covering more than 9,344 hectares of land. The rural spirit that is present in daily life of the inhabitants as well as its cultural and culinary events are among the largets tourist attractions of the Tisey – Estanzuela Nature Reserve. It is made up of a mountainous territory divided between rivers and valleys. The reserve derives it’s name from  the Le Tisey waterfall and the river Estanzuela, which ends in an impressive waterfall of the same name. You can easily hike or walk through this wet vegetation.

Near the reserve, we suggest you visit the Garnacha community. Here you can visit a goat and worm farm, a cheese workshop, meet the famous stone carver El Zopilote and discover  multitude of other craft activities!

In the morning, departure from the Tisey Estanzuela nature reserve to the colonial city of León.

Note: 2 hours 45 minutes  drive approximately.

On the road, we recommend a stop at Hervideros de San Jacinto.

At the foot of the Telica Volcano, this small village lives according to the moods of the colossus. You will be able to observe different volcanic manifestations, especially the bubbling mud baths where the smell of sulphur is strong! Many legends and myths surround this timeless place.

Note: Entry to be paid on site ($5 per person).

Night at hotel San Juan de Leon.

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Day 13 : León

Sandboard on the slopes of the volcano Cerro Negro!

At 7:30 a.m. your driver will pick you up at your hotel in a 4×4. You’ll head to the famous Cerro Negro volcano.

Formed 150 years ago, the Cerro Negro volcano is the most active volcano in Nicaragua; the last eruption was in 1999! 725m above sea level, it is called the “Black Mountain.” It’s appearance is lunar! The surface is covered with black volcanic stones leading up to it’s summit. The fumaroles and other sulphur emissions this unique change of scenery.

Reach the summit from where you will observe the crater and then sand surf down the slopes!

Thrills guaranteed standing or sitting on your sand surf board!

Return to your hotel.

Note: Moderate difficulty hike, about 1 hour 30 minutes walk.

Free time to discover of León.

As the old capital of the country, León is one of the key cities to visit in Nicaragua. A passionate mix between history and religion, the city’s colonial colors and style will seduce you.

We recommend you to visit some of the must-see sites such as the indigenous neighborhood of Sutiaba and the Ruben Dario’s museum, the famous Nicaraguan poet known as the “Prince of the Castillian letters.” You can’t miss the massive and impressive cathedral which stands in the central park. Climb up to the rooftops to  admire the panoramic view!

As you will walk through the streets of León, keep your eyes open for the city’s hidden revolutionary murals!

Night at hotel San Juan de Leon.

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Day 14 : León - Las Peñitas

Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve

In the morning, meet with your local guide in the small village of Las Peñitas.

The nature reserve of the island Juan Venado is 22km long and 250m wide. Travel by boat to discover through the mangroves in search of turtles, caimans and iguanas.Facing the beach of Las Peñitas, this island is also the refuge of many species of exotic birds.

End your excursion with a swim or walk on the beach.

Duration: about 3 hours.

You’ll have the afternoon free to take advantage of Las Peñitas beach. Rent a board and learn how to surf or enjoy sunbathing on the beach!

Night at hotel San Juan de Leon.

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Day 15 : Managua

Free time to enjoy the city of León, depending on your flight schedule. Three hours before departure, transfer to Managua International Airport for your international flight.

Note : 100 km – A 2 hour drive.

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