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Day 1: Arrive Managua
Upon arrival in Managua, Nicaragua's capital, we are met and transferred to our hotel. This evening we have our welcome dinner.
Day 2: Managua Sites
Enjoy a tour of the city's main sites, including the palace and cathedral which was destroyed during the 1972 earthquake. The area was devastated and almost abandoned but has seen a revival including a recent lake front development of restaurants and parkland where local families can visit and relax. We will also learn about national hero Augusto Cesar Sandino and the Somoza dictatorship. We will see the ruins of the old presidential palace, also destroyed by the earthquake that leveled the city. We will see the monument to Simon Bolivar, in the avenue of the same name and also the National Theater Ruben Dario, New Presidential House, Palace of Culture and other buildings.
Day 3: Leon - Oldest City in the Americas (est. 1525)
Not only is Leon a beautiful colonial city, it is also the oldest city in the Americas, established in 1525. We will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Momotombo volcano and Lake Xolotlan. We explore several churches and historic buildings and also stop at a wall of murals which depict some of the most important symbols, stories and political statements from Nicaragua's past and present. We will also see the birdhouse of Ruben Dario, the Ortiz Gurdian art gallery and the El Convento hotel and its colonial architecture. During the walking tour get to know the historic murals of the city and understand the role played by Leon in the social, economic and political development of Nicaragua.
Day 4: To Matagalpa, San Jacinto Mudfields
Today we depart for Nicaragua's 'Pearl of the North'. Matalgalpa, with its fresh climate, is in a valley surrounded by mountains and is the center of Nicaragua's coffee production.
Day 5: Matagalpa, Coffee Tour, Indigenous Community, Weaving
What better way to start your day than a coffee tour that obviously comes with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Matagalpa is not only the center of Nicaragua's coffee production, but also a center for indigenous culture. We visit with the indigenous community of El Chile who are known for their beautiful weavings. We visit a weaving workshop where you can buy a bag, purse, bedspread or carpet right from the woman who weaved it. We will also have lunch with a local family. We learn about the history and culture of these fascinating people. We continue our exploration until we reach a viewpoint with a 360 degree panorama of the valley and surrounding mountains.
Day 6: To Granada, Masaya Volcano & Market, Cooking Lesson
We set out for the (still active) Masaya volcano, where we will witness the influence that volcanic activities have had in the shaping of the zone, as well as the flora and fauna of this wildlife refuge. We then visit the pleasant and interesting Masaya market, known for for local ceramics, hammocks, wood and leather souvenirs, before stopping at a local restaurant for a cooking lesson on Nicaraguan specialties. For dinner, we will enjoy some of the cuisine we learned about during our cooking lesson. We continue to the colonial city of Granada where we will have a sightseeing tour by horse carriage and arrive at the main plaza for our walking tour of the surrounding area. You will finish your day with a relaxing boat ride around some of the islands formed by the impressive Mombacho volcano.
Day 7: Granada Sites, Mombacho Volcano Hike, Laguna de Apoyo
This morning we explore the most impressive sites of Granada, arguably Nicaragua's most impressive colonial city. Mombacho volcano is our next stop. We transfer to more powerful trucks as we drive up the steep road to the summit. Notice the drop in temperature and an increase in lush greenery as the top portion of the volcano is often shrouded in mist, creating a cloud forest. If clear, you can see the lake and city below. We can enjoy a moderate 1 hour hike to several viewpoints. We stop for lunch by Laguna de Apoyo, one of the most beautiful lagoons in Nicaragua which has an abundance of flora and fauna. After lunch, we can relax and enjoy the view or cool off with a refreshing dip in the lake.
Day 8: To Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua
After breakfast, we depart Granada as we drive towards Lake Nicaragua. We take a ferry to the heart of Ometepe Island. This stunning island was formed by 2 volcanoes, Conception (1,610m) and Maderas (1,394m). The volcanoes are joined by a low isthmus that form one island in the shape of an hourglass.
Day 9: Ometepe Sites
Sites we visit include a butterfly farm, petroglyphs and even a local church, which has its own indigenous Jesus. We will visit a pre-Colombian Museum where we will learn about the culture of the different ethnic groups or tribes that inhabited the island of Ometepe, and then we will be passing through different rural villages to reach the natural reserve of Charco Verde, a natural lake within the vegetation.
Day 10: To San Juan del Sur, Zipline, Viewpoint
Enjoy a relaxing morning before we depart by ferry for the ocean, leaving this special island behind. On our way, we make a stop and transfer to specially made dirt road buggies (with incredible suspension) and drive to a viewpoint where we can see San Juan del Sur looking westward and Ometepe and Lake Nicaragua if we look towards the east.
Day 11: San Juan del Sur, Turtle Reserve
We continue our drive to a protected beach, La Flor Wildlife refuge, where one can find thousands of turtles that come onto the shore to lay eggs between July and January each year. There are 7 large migrations that happen during this time period and several smaller ones, also during this time.
Day 12: To Managua, Farewell Dinner
After a relaxing morning by the ocean, we drive back to the capital city of Managua. This evening we enjoy our farewell dinner.
Day 13: Depart Managua
Our Central American adventure concludes with a transfer to Managua International Airport for your departure flight.
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