This 8-day tour takes us through the districts of Masaya, Granada, and Carazo – unique in Nicaragua for their artisans, European architecture, and preservation of precolonial Nicaraguan culture. A mix of city life and country living, with us, you will get a genuine glimpse of how life is lived in the land of lakes and volcanoes.
First stop, the capital city of Managua. We’ll be waiting at the airport to welcome and show you to your Managua hotel.
Our journey begins. We’ll set off through Managua’s busy streets. For first time visitors and history buffs alike, this city tour will tell the story of civil war, natural disaster, and survival. We’ll visit plazas, statues, and monuments. Our organic timetable may allow us to catch a performance at the Ruben Dario Theater or a traveling art exhibit at one of the museums.
Chocoyero Nature Reserve is a hardwood forest in the midst of pineapple farms–one of which we will visit for a first-hand glimpse into the life of a campesino. We’ll hike the park’s well-maintained path to view its two waterfalls, one of which magically disappears into the earth below. The reserve was named for the incredible number of chocoyos (parakeets) that inhabit the cliff walls surrounding the falls. Perhaps we’ll catch a glimpse of the curious-looking guatuzo.
Ticuantepe is pineapple country. The undulating countryside is prolific. We’ll take you to visit with a local farmer making his living off this sweet fruit. See how life is lived in el campo (the countryside), its challenges and rewards.
MASAYA, CITY OF FLOWERS & LOS PUEBLOS BLANCOS
Volcán Masaya National Park was established in 1979 as Nicaragua’s first national park. We’ll spend time exploring the park’s several volcanoes and craters, including Volcán Masaya, one of the country’s most visibly active volcanoes. Wedged between the volcano cones is the relatively new Santiago crater where, at night, you might catch a glimpse of incandescent rock and glowing magma while peering into its depths.
The steep climb to Coyotepe, built as a fortress in 1893 to protect the land, later used as a prison, now a national landmark, offers a view that gives us some idea of just how much water and how many volcanoes make up this, the largest country in Central America.
We’ll pass through Los Pueblos Blancos on our way to Catarina, where local handicraft makers are famous for their woven fiber ad precious hardwood furniture, hand-turned ceramics, and sweets. In San Juan de Oriente, artists offer pottery-making demonstrations and sell their work alongside the narrow brick streets. In the hillside pueblo of Catarina is the Mirador, a vantage point that allows you to look out over Laguna de Apoyo, Granada, Lake Nicaragua, and the Island of Ometepe in the distance.
Diriamba definitely has its own flavor, with a heavy emphasis on its people’s indigenous roots. In January, we’ll take part in the celebration of the Holy Martyr San Sebastian, which mixes traditional song and dance with colorful costumes that predate the Spanish arrival. Its mix of pre-Columbian ritual and Catholicism is as compelling as the vivid colors and distinctive music. The social satire, El Güegüense, depicts the indigenous peoples’ first impression of the Spanish, and is told through its intricate masks and costumes. Have your camera ready.
GRANADA, COLONIAL JEWEL
We’ll give you time to explore the relaxed colonial city of Granada at your own pace. Granada is both the oldest city on the continent and the most developed tourist destination. Nowhere else in the country will you find such an array of excellent restaurants offering both local and international fare. We’ll show you the highlights, then grab a horse-drawn carriage and ride along the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Walk the colorful streets, tour the market, churches and museums, or Salsa dance at a club.
Nearby, along the shores of Lake Nicaragua, an electric motorboat is waiting to guide us through the many water corridors around Las Isletas, an exotic tropical archipelago of 365 tiny islands of volcanic origin. There is the option, if you’re up for it, to hop in kayaks and paddle our way around. A great way to get up close to the myriad water birds that inhabit the shorelines and the curious spider monkeys that swing from the treetops.
Volcán Mombacho rises nearly 4,400 feet above sea level, its summit hidden in a dense cloud forest. We’ll hike around one of its forest-lined craters through an amazing ecosystem, home to colorful orchids and bromeliads, curious wildlife, fascinating insects, and over 160 species of birds. You'll also get a first-hand look at a shade-grown coffee farm.
In the community of Granadilla, not far from Granada, we’ll spend the morning on a caminata (walking tour) of their farming cooperative. After a hearty homemade lunch we’ll set out on horseback for an alternative perspective of the landscape. Later, a group of young Nicaraguan boys and girls will show us how they make their unique seed jewelry, and you, too, will have the opportunity to create your own.
Spend the afternoon swimming in the thermal, crystalline crater lake waters of Laguna de Apoyo. Spend the night in a private home nestled into the forested crater wall and wake up, well-rested, to the sound of howler monkeys beginning a new day in their extraordinary home.
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Central America and Caribbean Nicaragua Local Culture Cultural Journey National Parks
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