Day 1: Leon
Arrive at Managua international airport and transfer to the nearby colonial city of Leon (1 hr). Overnight at the historic colonial Hotel El Convento, a former convent restored as a peaceful and distinctive boutique hotel representing Nicaraguas rich cultural history.
Day 2: Walking in Leon and Kayaking at Juan Venado
One of the oldest colonial cities in Central America and the intellectual hub of the country, you begin your walking exploration of Leon’s beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture ascending eighty-one steps up the cathedral’s tower, the largest in Central America, for a dazzling view of the city surrounded by eleven volcanoes, four which are still active. You also walk by several old revolutionary murals from the 80’s and visit the Ruben Dario’s Museum-House, the most famous Nicaraguan poet. After exploring the city on foot it's a short drive to Isla Juan Venado National Park, an important coastal wetland reserve and protected site where leather-back and olive-ridley sea turtles nest between August and December. Overnight at Hotel El Convento.
Day 3: Cerro Negro Volcano - Masaya Volcano National Park
Depart early to hike up Cerro Negro Volcano. The trail is an hour ascent with a spectacular view from atop. Those looking for excitement can grab a sand board for a thrilling ride down the volcano; others can run downhill, or walk back down the trail. En-route to Granada you stop at the San Jacinto boiling mud holes and then at the Masaya Volcano National Park, encompassing two impressive volcanoes and five formidable craters. Hike among the lava caves and rock formations always on the lookout for wildlife including coyotes, opossum, deer, iguana, monkeys, and bats. Time permitting sometimes it is possible to peak into the crater mouth of the volcano to observe red, glowing lava, and to visit the bat cave where hundreds of bats emerge at dusk. You then continue on to historical Granada. Overnight at Hotel Plaza Colon set in an elegant antique colonial house restored to its original style and architecture with courtyards and balconies overlooking Central Park and the Cathedral.
Day 4: Granada - Mombacho Volcano - Pueblos Blancos Pottery Workshop
Mombacho Volcano is one of Nicaragua’s most impressive volcanoes, rising like a sleeping giant to 4,626 feet. Often enshrouded in mist, you hike through verdant cloud forest rich in hanging moss and epiphytic plants to the Mombacho Canopy Adventure for an exhilarating zip line ride through the forest canopy. Catch your breath and return to Granada for a hearty lunch. The afternoon is free to explore, on your own or with your guide, the narrow cobblestone streets with many cafes, art studios, and artisan shops, or cool off in the hotel swimming pool. There is also the option to visit Pueblos Blancos (white villages) outside of Granada, quaint rural villages where buildings and streets were constructed from volcanic rock, water, and limestone that gave them all a white-washed color. Here you will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with talented artists whose skills have been passed down through generations and who will be happy to share their talents with you to get your hands muddy on the potter's wheel and learn how to create your own piece. Overnight Hotel Plaza Colon.
Day 5: Granada - Kayaking, Cycling, and Chocolate Workshop
A very short drive from town to the banks of Lake Nicaragua you have a choice to kayak or take an electric-powered boat through the 365 enchanted islets of Granada. This volcanic archipelago, formed 20,000 years ago when Mombacho Volcano blew most of its cone of massive boulders into the lake, is rich in fauna and flora including caiman, turtles, migrating swallows, and a variety of aquatic birds. The San Pablo Fort is an opportunity to learn about colorful stories of marauding pirates attacking the city during the 18th century.
Depending on time and the day of the week, you visit the local La Esperancita School. Here you have an opportunity to interact with children and teachers who commute to school by boat, and to learn how your visit benefits the community. Whether or not the school is in session, there are many ways we can interact with the locals of this fishing community to learn about their daily life. After a lakeside lunch, you return to Granada where you get your helmets and mount bikes to explore the charming cobblestone streets of Granada including the market, Cathedral and the Convent of San Francisco, now a museum with elaborate murals depicting Nicaragua’s history in colorful scenes and a vast collection of pre-Columbian statues and pottery. You conclude this day in a chocolate workshop where you learn how to roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine and mold our own piece of chocolate! Overnight at Hotel Plaza Colon.
Day 6: San Juan del Sur
Leave the city behind and depart for San Juan del Sur, a tranquil fishing and popular vacation retreat where you wind down on a private tropical Pacific beach in the rainforest. On arrival at the coast, say a fond farewell to your guide who returns to Granada. Overnights at Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge, a boutique beach-front property with hilltop ocean views offering luxurious accommodations, spa services, and many activities. Morgan's Rock has a long-standing commitment to the education and welfare of the local community.
Days 7-8: San Juan Del Sur - Beach and Forest Activities
Enjoy two full days relaxing at Morgan's Rock. The spacious, open-air, screened-in luxury cabanas are private and offer king-size beds, comfortable sofa-beds, and large decks with an outdoor rope-swing day bed. Spacious, tiled bathrooms feature two sinks and a natural shower. Bungalows are situated on a hilltop setting and connected to the main lodge, restaurant, and pool area by a hanging foot bridge weaving through the forest canopy. Savor two full days in the rainforest enjoying one onsite activity of choice per day (included). Options include guided nature walks (day and evening), tours of the working hacienda, sunset excursion, horseback riding, opportunities to collect eggs or milk a cow while helping prepare a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast, and assisting with protection and release of baby sea turtle tours (in season). Other activities available at additional cost include surfing lessons, mountain biking, sea kayaking and fishing. Overnights at Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Eco-lodge.
Day 9: Departure
Enjoy one more Nicaraguan sunrise, before returning home. Transfer to Managua International airport for your international flight home or begin post trip extension.