This 8-day tour takes us up and down, through coffee country, tobacco fields and organic farms. We’ll travel from the land of horses and cowboys to the volcanic ground that produces some of the country’s sweetest fruit. You’ll see the land shift right before your eyes, from Nicaragua’s highest undulating green hilltops to the shores of Central America’s largest body of fresh water.
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.
From Managua we’ll head north to coffee country. The city of Matagalpa offers a respite from the bustling capital. The air is clean and crisp. The people are kind and generous. Here, pulperías (corner stores) are at home next to shops selling cowboy hats and horse saddles.
In town, there is a simple but interesting museum dedicated to Carlos Fonseca, founder of the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front). And just on the outskirts hides a humble cacao factory where we can stock up on rum-infused chocolate balls.
We’ll hike the slopes of Cerro Apante for a spectacular view of this mountainous region then come back down through the city’s unabashedly colorful cemetery. Nearby, at Selva Negra, we’ll hike some more, through the rolling green hills of their bird-friendly coffee estate and nature reserve.
November-January we will have an opportunity to see first-hand how the coffee we drink is harvested and processed. A walk around the extremely pleasant, tiny town of San Ramon will give you a good sense of life in el campo (the countryside).
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.
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Central America and Caribbean Nicaragua Nature & Wildlife Ecotourism Cultural Journey
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