From quaint cities bursting with colonial architecture and a colorful past, to striking volcanoes, where green parakeets live amid the sulfurous smoke of a steaming crater, International Expeditions’ new Nicaragua tour offers a range of natural and cultural delights. And for those who want to take in tropical landscapes and vibrant wildlife in a safe and crowd-free environment, travel to Nicaragua, where you can enjoy a retreat that’s still “undiscovered” by the masses.
IE is thrilled to introduce our newest program spending nine days in Nicaragua’s premier wildlife reserves and the historic towns of León and Granada, all while enjoying grand, colonial accommoda¬tions. Plus, you’ll have the pleasure of traveling with one of Nicaragua’s original naturalists.
Travel to Nicaragua’s Premier Wildlife Reserves
IE’s naturalist-guided Nicaragua tour takes in the country’s premiere wildlife hotspots -- Juan Venado Nature Reserve, Selva Negra Private Reserve, Masaya Volcano National Park, Chocoyero Reserve, Montibelli Private Reserve and Mombacho Reserve. Plus, you’ll spend a morning spotting birdlife and floating peacefully among Lake Nicaragua’s islets.
Could You Create Nicaragua’s First Bird Book?
Be part of creating the first bird book of species in Nicaragua! Ecotourism has the ability to positively impact a country, and IE is giving you the opportunity to help introduce new species to the world. As you traverse the country with our seasoned naturalist guides, you will also have the opportunity to be an active participant in cataloging any newly spotted species to create the Nicaragua’s first bird book — a true treat for nature enthusiasts with a pioneering spirit!
Day 1 – Saturday
U.S. / Managua, Nicaragua / Leon
Travel to Nicaragua independently, landing in Managua to begin your Nicaragua tour. You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to Leon, where you have the rest of the day at leisure. Spend the next two nights at Hotel El Convento. (Meals Aloft)
Day 2 – Sunday
Juan Venado Island Reserve / Leon
Explore Juan Venado Island Reserve, a protected area forming part of the country’s vital coastal wetland region. From Las Peñitas beach, our naturalist leads a two-hour private boat ride along this barrier island and the mangrove swamps separating it from the coast. This area provides the ideal home for an abundance of animal life, including water birds, cayman, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and more. Since there is no human population residing on the island, we enjoy the sense of peaceful seclusion. Return to Leon and tour this colonial city, first settled in 1524. The city has existed in its current location since 1610, when it was moved after being destroyed during an eruption of Momotombo Volcano. During our tour, see the monumental cathedral, the largest in Central America, located at the main square, the birth place of Ruben Dario and the Ortiz Gurdian art gallery. This walking tour is the perfect time to learn about this city’s historic murals as well as its role in the social, economic and political development of Nicaragua. At Hervideros de San Jacinto, feel the heat rising from the interior of the Earth, and observe the impressive mud boiling inside these craters. (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Monday
Selva Negra Private Reserve
As we explore more of Nicaragua, ecotourism enthusiasts will love our time in the cloud forest at Selva Negra EcoLodge, a sustainable coffee plantation and wildlife preserve. Nestled in the central highlands, we spend two nights in this private reserve. Our afternoon is spent on one of the many trails, where we hope to spot some of the bird species attracted by the reserve’s fruiting trees. Since the property is situated along the continental divide between the Pacific and Atlantic lowlands, our sightings could include a mix of both Pacific and Atlantic-slope bird species. (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Tuesday
Selva Negra Private Reserve
Spend the morning strolling on trails through the cloud forest. Later we tour the coffee plantation, learning about the processes harvesting their shade-grown coffee. This afternoon we are back on the trails surrounding the reserve looking for butterflies, howler monkeys, agoutis and other wildlife. Tonight, enjoy an enriching lecture on Nicaragua ecotourism and the local ecological efforts being led by owners of the lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Wednesday
Selva Negra / Granada
Make our way to Granada, on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Named after the city Granada in Spain, this atmospheric city features of colonial churches clustered around narrow streets and large homes with beautiful patios and tiled roofs. You will have the opportunity to walk around the main plaza to see La Merced church, Zamora family home, Casa de Los Tres Mundos and the San Francisco convent. At the convent, we have the opportunity to learn about the mysterious, pre-Columbian idols. While strolling through the city, learn about its colorful history, including the 1855 invasion by William Walker. Spend tonight at the Dario Hotel, our home for the next four nights. (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Thursday
Montibelli Private Reserve / Chocoyero Reserve
Spend a full day exploring the tropical dry forests of the Montibelli Private Reserve and Chocoyero Reserve. Montibelli is an award-wining privately owned park and arguably one of the best forest reserves in the Pacific basin for bird watching. 156 species of fauna have been identified here, including endangered species such as mono congo, sahin, guatusa, parrot of the Pacific, and six species of hummingbird. Here we may spot manikins, trogons and Nicaragua’s national bird Guardaborranco – the turquoise browed motmot. The park is also known for an abundance of butterflies. Spend the afternoon at Chocoyero Reserve, home to hummingbirds, toucans, wrens, deer, agouti and its most famous inhabitant the “Chocoyo Coludo” — or green parakeet. Over 800 of these marvelous birds live and nest on a rocky wall of a waterfall in the park. Search in the lush vegetation of the canopy for howler monkeys and white-faced capuchins, and be on the look-out for small cat species such as tigrillo and gato del monte. (B,L,D)
Day 7 – Friday
Wind past sprawling coffee plantations as we head up Mombacho Volcano and into the cloud forests of Mombacho Reserve, a botanist’s dream with 800 species of plants, including colorful bromeliads and orchids. Hike trails through the forest, observing wildlife including howler and white-faced monkeys, deer, reptiles and vibrant birdlife. If we’re lucky, we may spot the dazzling crimson-breasted, emerald-plumed quetzal as well as the endemic Mombacho butterfly and Mombacho salamander. Park rangers will give an overview of vulcanology and discuss the ancient people who once inhabited the area. On clear days, the reserve offers breathtaking views across the Pacific region, Granada and Lake Nicaragua. Enjoy a cup of local coffee during a visit to the biological station before an evening at leisure to explore Granada independently. (B,L)
Day 8 – Saturday
Lake Nicaragua / Masaya Reserve
This morning enjoy a relaxing boat ride around the islands of Lake Nicaragua, formed by Mombacho Volcano, observing the local bird life and people of the islands. Spend some time browsing in the Masaya Market before continuing on our evening excursion to Masaya Volcano. After gazing across the volcano and surrounding landscape from our vantage point at La Cruz de Bobadilla, observe the green parakeets that roost on the volcano. These birds have adapted to the sulfur smoke and actually live within the crater. As dusk approaches, we also watch as a large numbers of bats depart en masse from their caves. Descend into an underground tunnel formed by lava streams. Equipped with flashlights and helmets, we observe interesting rock formations. Our Nicaragua tour ends with a stop to look inside the crater mouth, seeing the glowing, red lava before our farewell dinner in Masaya. (B,L,D)
Day 9 – Sunday
Granada / U.S.
Transfer to the airport in Managua to board your flights to the U.S. (B, Meals Aloft)
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.