Welcome to Nicaragua, the very heart of the Americas. A lush tropical land with its sun-covered beaches, clear lakes, winding mountain rivers, volcanic islands, and by far the friendliest people. Traveling by foot, kayak, carriage, and private vans our group will discover the country’s amazing Spanish towns and villages with their eye-catching architecture, picturesque backdrops, and truly fascinating history.
Facts At A Glance
- Level of Difficulty: Easy paddling each day with lots of breaks for relaxing, wildlife viewing, and exploring.
- Dates: November 21-28, 2015
- Trip Origination: Managua International Airport
- What’s Included: Lodging, kayaks, entrance fees, airport pick up/drop off, all ground transportation during the tour, local Nicaraguan guides, all breakfasts, three dinners, and all day tours.
- What’s Not Included: Flights, lunches, alcoholic beverages, four dinners, and any unscheduled activities.
- Price: $1,200 per person, double occupancy.
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Day 1 — (Saturday) Arrive and meet at Managua International Airport. Once all parties have arrived, our private van will take us to Hotel Terrasol, in the lovely town of Granada. Once everyone is settled in, Greg will make introductions, go over the week’s agenda, and answer any questions regarding the trip. Dinner will be prepared and served by our good friends, Victor and Katya Chamorro. Victor, a former San Francisco Chef, is highly regarded for his innovative cuisine using fresh, local ingredients. Katya worked as a San Francisco Bay area baker before moving to Granada. Expect perfection and celebrate knowing that this wonderful couple will be preparing all of our meals while staying at the Hotel Terrasol.
Day 2 — (Sunday) After a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast, our local guide will take us on a walking/carriage ride tour of the historical town of Grenada. On our tour we will visit:
- the San Francisco Convent and Church The oldest church in Central America and the most striking building in Granada, Iglesia San Francisco boasts a robin’s-egg-blue birthday cake facade and houses one of the best museums in the region. Originally constructed in 1585, pirates burned it to the ground and William Walker rebuilt in it 1868. In 1989, the church was restored to its former glory. The museum’s highlights include top-notch Primitivist art, a scale model of the city, and a group of papier-mâché indigenous people cooking, relaxing in hammocks and swinging on comelazatoaztegams, a sort of 360-degree see-saw.
- The Zapatera statuary The main reason we visit here, are two solemn regiments of black-basalt statues looming above large men and possessed of 10 times their gravity, carved between AD 800 and 1200, then left behind on the ritual island of Zapatera. Most were discovered in the late 1880s and gathered in Granada in the 1920s.
- The Granada cemetery Used between 1876 and 1922, this beautiful cemetery has lots of picturesque mausoleums and tombs, including those of six Nicaraguan presidents. Most people come to see the 1880 neoclassical stone Capilla de Animas (Chapel of Spirits), a scale model of the French chapel of the same name. Close by is another scale model, this time of Notre Dame cathedral.
- La Polvora fort A warehouse built in 1748 to store gunpowder. We will visit its old towers, which give you an amazing view of the city. Xalteva Church and Walls: Here the Spanish met the Xalteva native population, from which the neighborhood gets its name. This is the oldest part of Granada. The church was built during colonial times and because of its location, was used as a military fort.
- Chocolate museum and tour (Hotel Terrasol)
Day 3 — (Monday) Time to get on the water and get some paddling time in. Today we kayak and explore the Isletas of Lake Nicaragua.
When the Mombacho Volcano erupted thousands of years ago, it threw huge rocks into Lake Nicaragua. As a result of this violent eruption 365 islets were formed in front of Granada. The islets differ in size between a hundred square meters and over one hundred hectares. Most of the people living here are fishermen.There are also uninhabited islets with only some palm trees growing on it.
The wild nature, resident birds and visitors and the day-a-day routine of the local families make it an ideal place for kayaking around the lake.
You can slowly pass by the islands and catch a glimpse of the immensity of Lake Nicaragua. The birdlife around the islands is abundant. You can see cormorants, herons, parrots, hawks, vultures, and many other birds. The lake also houses lots of fish. Sweet water shark once crowded the lake, but this unique animal is nowadays threatened with extinction and barely ever seen. You can see the huge Mombacho Volcano arise right next to the lake.(Hotel Terrasol)
Day 4 — (Tuesday) Early morning today, Our private van will be picking us up at 6am. so we can make the ferry over to the amazing Ometepe Island. On the island we will visit:
- Altagracia church with its stone statues.
- Balgue: Finca Magdalena a cooperative that grows organic coffee.
- Santo Domingo: Wonderful beach between the 2 volcanoes. We will lunch at the beachfront with extra time time for relaxing and swimming.
- Charco Verde: Home of the Mythological figure, Chico Largo. You learn about this mysterious legend while walking around the lagoon enjoying the flora and fauna of this ecological reserve.
Our hotel for the evening is Hotel Charco Verde Inn. Considered one of the island’s finest, our hotel is wrapped around a jungle-shrouded, pearl-grey beach at the very entrance to the Charco Verde Ecological Preserve and the newly opened Mariposario. Rooms have attractive locally hand made furniture, polished wood ceilings, private terraces surrounded by lush tropical gardens, and excellent modern bathrooms. Dinner will be prepared and served on the lakefront.
Day 5 — (Wednesday) Start the morning with a swim or a long walk on the loop trail through the nature preserve. Keep an eye out for the howler monkeys. Soon after breakfast we will make our way back to the small village of Moyogalpa to catch our ferry off the island. Keep your cameras handy, The best views of the Volcano Concepcion are on the boat ride away from the island.
Our hotel for the next few days will be the Backpackers Inn. Do not let the name fool you. This is not a youth hostel filled with intoxicated poor college kids who don’t know how to pick up after themselves. Just the opposite. Take a look at http://www.backpackers-inn.com/
Day 6 — (Thursday) Today we will spend the entire day exploring, playing, and relaxing at Reserva Natural Laguna De Apoyo. This natural gem is hidden deep into a richly forested volcanic crater created some 23,000 years ago. The crystal clear sparkling water covers Central America’s lowest point. The clean water is fed by hidden volcanic springs and is saturated with minerals that people believe have amazing therapeutic powers.
The Reserve is home to sloths, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, jaguarundis, and six endemic species of fish. Popular activities include snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, wind surfing, and relaxing on the lakeshore.
Tonight dinner will take place at Zaguan. Known as the best place in Nicaragua for authentic churrascos. This will be our consummate Granada dinning experience. The decor is delightful. What used to be a garage has been transformed into a romantic, festive restaurant.
(Hotel Backpacker inn)
Day 7 — (Friday) Masaya Volcano, just a few miles south-east of Managua, is one of Nicaragua’s most active and unusual volcanoes.
In contrast to most other volcanoes in subduction zones, it has been erupting mainly fluid basaltic lava. At the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, it contained an active lava lake and it is reported that there were attempts to extract the volcano’s molten “gold.”
Masaya is a complex consisting of a 6×11.5 km large caldera with steep, up to 300 m high walls, and a group of young cones at the NW end including Nindirí and Masaya volcano proper. There are multiple summit craters including the currently active Santiago crater, the site of the current activity. See and learn more at: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/masaya.html.
Our group will hike up to the active smoking crater and dormant crater; we will also visit the Park museum.
A short drive will get us to the Mercado de Artesanía. Here we will find traditionally made local ceramics & woodcrafts, hammocks, jewelry, and leather work. At the end of town we can visit the amazing Catarina lookout with its breath taking view of Apoyo Crater Lake.
On our drive back to Grenada we will visit a working pottery studio/school that still employs the same techniques as the early Myan.
Our farewell dinner will be in Granada at the Comidas Tipicas y Mas, the most famous restaurant for traditional Nicaraguan meals. With so much comfort food most everyone will want to walk the few blocks back to our hotel. (Hotel Backpackers Inn)
Day 8 — (Saturday) One last traditional Nicaraguan breakfast and coffee before we say our goodbyes. Greg will happily make any transportation arrangements back to the airport for folks. Everyone is encouraged to continue traveling in Nicaragua and beyond. For folks wanting to stay longer, Greg will be heading out to the Corn Islands for an additional 3 days of kayaking, beach combing, and serious relaxing.
Meals and Accommodations
We will divide our lodging between the amazing Hotel Terrasol and the Backpackers Inn. Both are charming and the backpackers has a great pool. Breakfasts will be provided and served at the hotels, lunches will be out, and dinners will be at the Terrasol or at a local restaurant.
Important! Be sure to download the mandatory Registration forms.