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Highlights Nicaragua & Costa Rica

Managua - León Viejo - Juan Venado Reserve - Estelí - Selva Negra - Masaya - Granada - Catarina - Ometepe Island - Arenal Volcano - Tortuguero National Park - San José (15 days / 14 nts)  From $N/A

Granada, Main Square

Day 1: Arrival Managua - Hotel Transfer
Arrival at Managua International Airport and shuttle bus to your hotel.

Included meals: None
Accommodation: Hotel Camino Real**** or similar

Day 2: Managua City Tour - León Viejo - Juan Venado Reserve - Las Peñitas - León
After breakfast we will drive to ?Loma de Tiscapa, a small volcanic hill where Somoza‘s presidential house was strategically situated. Today Sandino‘s black metal silhouette rules over the hill and you can enjoy excellent views on old and new Managua from here. Afterwards we will drive along Lake Managua towards the ruins of ?León Viejo, first capital of Nicaragua which succumbed to the violent eruption of Momotombo volcano and a destructive earthquake. Here you will have the chance to learn about interesting colonial time episodes of this UNESCO site and understand why the first Spanish conquistadors settled Leon Viejo in this ferocious land. Then we will drive to the Pacific coast and will embark for a boat tour into the Reserve of Juan Venado, famous for its mangroves and wildlife. At Las Peñitas, on the way back to the cultural town Leon, we will admire a beautiful sunset (if the weather permits).

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Austria*** or similar

Day 3: Tuesday León City Tour - Cerro Negro Volcano (OPTIONAL) - León:
This morning, we will begin with the visit of the old looking Cathedral ?La Asuncion, considered the largest in Central America and sheltering the remains of Nicaragua‘s greatest poet ?Ruben Dario. We will also ascend to the roof of the temple to enjoy spectacular views of the city. Then we will visit the archive-museum house of Ruben Dario as well as the art museum of Ortiz-Gurdian Foundation which contains an impressive collection of European and Latin American art. As we walk through the city we still can see some of the old revolutionaries murals painted during the civil war. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to travel 25 kilometers east from Leon to the black Volcano Cerro Negro, regarded as the youngest volcano in Central America and formed in 1850 (OPTIONAL TOUR), driving by unique rural sceneries areas where traditional crops as cassava, sugar cane, peanuts, corn, and others are grown. This fascinating hiking trail will take us to the summit of this ?black hill and enjoy impressive view over the ?Maribios volcanic chain, nicely constituted by the active cones of San Cristobal and Telica. After descending on the sandy slopes of the volcano we drive back to León.

Note: The excursion to the Volcano Cerro Negro can be booked while in León. The price is USD 40.,- per person and has to be paid to the guide directly. Minimum 2 people.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Austria*** or similar

Day 4: León - San Jacinto Hot Springs - Estelí: cigar factory - Selva Negra:
After breakfast we will drive to San Jacinto Hot Springs, a unique phenomenon of this volcanic region where internal vents eject hot gasses, water and mud. Afterwards we will drive from the volcanic fertile soils of the Nicaraguan pacific basin to the north central region of Estelí, known for its top quality cigars. As we drive we will have the chance to pass by tobacco fields and then visit one of the many cigar factories in this area. Here we will learn about the painstaking process of selecting the best tobacco leaves, drying, rolling and packing. Then we will drive back to the highlands of Matagalpa, also known as the coffee hub. After taking our rooms at Selva Negra Lodge, we will go for a nature walk into the primary tropical forest to explore the lush vegetation and try to discover the elusive birdlife of the region.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Selva Negra Lodge** or similar

Day 5: Selva Negra - Chocolate factory - Masaya Volcano National Park - “Verbenas” - Granada
This morning after breakfast we will drive through the ?Selva Negra farm to learn very important facts about the sustainability of the farm, coffee and cheese production, cattle and pig raising, social projects, environmental protection and treatment of animal waste. After this interesting experience, we will drive to Matagalpa and visit a small chocolate factory producing 100% Nicaraguan chocolate. Here you will learn about the history of the cocoa bean, varieties, roasting and grinding and mixing. Then we will drive from the highlands on the Pan-American Highway descending on the pacific lowlands to reach our next destination, Masaya‘s Volcano National Park. This is a great opportunity to discover one of the most impressive active volcanoes in the ?Pacific Ring of Fire. Here you will have the chance to observe ancient lava flows, outstanding landscapes, lava incandescence, bat caves, an absolutely wonderful experience. In the dark we will drive to town Masaya and enjoy a folkloric event while we take our typical dinner. After this we will then drive into the charming colonial city of Granada.

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Patio del Malinche*** or similar

Day 6: Granada City Tour - San Juan de Oriente - Catarina - Masaya market - Boat Trip Las Isletas - Granada
After breakfast we will begin a city tour of the oldest colonial settlement in the Americas. We will visit the historical building of Convent San Francisco housing the local museum of Granada, displaying the most important pre-Hispanic totem collection in Nicaragua. We will also visit the historical center of the city where we can observe the Bishop Palace, Cathedral, Palace of Culture, City Hall and other remarkable monuments.
Then we will drive to the ?Pueblos Blancos, where we will visit the colorful town of San Juan de Oriente, renowned by its high quality pottery. Afterwards we will drive to a view point where we can enjoy breathtaking views of ?Lake Apoyo, known as the largest and deepest volcanic Crater Lake in the country. We will then head to Masaya‘s market where you can find a wide variety of fine quality handmade products such as hammocks, shoes, wallets, jewelry, clothes, etc…
Before we reach our hotel we will embark on a natural excursion on the Lake Nicaragua - a boat tour along some of the volcanic islands, generally known as ?Las Isletas.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Patio del Malinche*** or similar

Day 7: Granada - San Jorge - Charco Verde - Playa Santo Domingo
After breakfast we will drive south on the Pan-American highway, passing by several sugarcane and rice fields, as well as plantations of bananas, papayas, water melons and passion fruits. We then reach the small town of San Jorge where we take the ferry on the Lake Nicaragua to the volcanic island of Ometepe. Reaching Moyogalpa, one of the two main towns of the Island, we drive around the active volcano of Concepcion to visit ?Charco Verde, known for its dark green lake, lush surrounding vegetation, birdlife and howler monkeys. Then we continue on to Playa Santo Domingo where you can relax at the end of the day with a refreshing dive into the lake.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Villa Paraíso **(*) or similar

Day 8: Ometepe Island - Moyogalpa - San Jorge - Peñas Blancas / Costa Rica - La Fortuna
After breakfast, we leave the hotel and drive back to Moyogalpa to take the ferry to San Jorge. Back on the mainland, you head southward to Peñas Blancas, border town to Costa Rica. After the usual immigration formalities your dirver will bring you to La Fortuna, located at the foot of the active and impressive Arenal Volcano.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Mountain Paradise **** or similar

Day 9: Relaxing day in your hotel - Hotsprings - Arenal Volcano
Today you have the opportunity to relax at the swimming pool of this nice hotel, before getting to know the highlights of Costa Rica. In La Fortuna you can rent bikes or horses on your own, discover a beautiful waterfall or decide for one of the other tours offered by the hotel. Your Nicaraguan tour guide will leave you in the morning; in the afternoon you will meet the other participants and your new tour guide for the part in Costa Rica. In the late afternoon we will visit Ecotermales La Fortuna (or if fully booked Baldí Thermals) and enjoy the hot water surrounded by pure nature. The hot springs also offer a bar, and dinner will be served in the restaurant. Return to the hotel and overnight.

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Mountain Paradise **** or similar

Day 10: La Fortuna - Lava Field Hike - La Quinta de Sarapiquí - Pineapple Plantation - Plant A Tree
Today you will enjoy allot of activities. We start with a short drive to Arenal Volcano National Park, from where we start a nice 1½ hour walk. The first part will lead over an ash trail and we later reach an old lava flow, which we will cross on a rocky path. From here you can not only see the impressive power of a volcano, but also enjoy a beautiful view over the Lake Arenal and the surrounding soft hills. We continue our journey via Muelle and Aguas Zarcas and drive along huge fruit plantations. Oranges, coconut, yucca, macadamia nuts, papaya and pineapple are mainly cultivated here. We then reach La Quinta de Sarapiquí Lodge, a small, cozy and clean country hotel near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. They practice an ecological and sustainable way of tourism, and you will soon see, what that means. Then we drive to one of the huge pineapple plantations of this area. One of the local professionals will then explain all the details about the history of pineapple and about the secrets of production. You will first visit the field and the factory, where the fruits are washed and packed. We finish our visit with a quick stop at a plantation, where pineapple is grown as an ornamental plant. You will then have the opportunity to plant a tree. Up from 6 persons, there will be a small cultural event on your schedule.

Note: Should the hotel be fully booked in isolated cases, we are not able to guarantee the optional activity of planting a tree at La Quinta de Sarapiquí.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel La Quinta de Sarapiquí ***, Superior, or similar

Day 11: Visit of the Station for Tropical Studies - Small Rainforest Hike - Chocolate Tour
This morning around 9am you will arrive at the station for tropical studies in Sarapiquí. Here a small hike will take place across the safe hiking trails. You may observe the forest and our local guide will explain and show us the impacts that can be detected in relation to climate changes. A small interactive discussion about the balance in the tropical forests will be the end of today‘s visit.
After midday we continue our journey to the Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve, where you first will enjoy a short walk through the lush vegetation. With a bit of luck, you will be able to see some mammals here, mainly monkeys, sloths, coatis and also allot of different species of birds. After that experience you will learn everything about chocolate. The cacao tree originally comes from South and Central America. A local guide will explain the whole process from the cacao bean to delicious chocolate, which you of course will be able to taste at the end. The tour guide might change the order of today‘s itinerary due to weather conditions or any other operational reason.

Included meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel La Quinta de Sarapiquí ***, Superior, or similar

Day 12: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí - Guápiles - Tortuguero
After a quick coffee, we continue our journey via Horquetas to Guápiles, where we reach the main road connecting San José with Limón. Here, you will enjoy a typical Costarican breakfast, before we continue to the area of La Pavona or Caño Blanco. This area is important for banana production and you will see huge plantations here. Your guide will tell you about advantages and disadvantages of the yellow fruit. Near Matina we will then continue by boat and you will cruise on rivers and channels along the beautiful nature to Tortuguero. Check-in at a comfortable lodge and late lunch. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore the surroundings of this beautiful place; eg. for an optional visit to the Tortuguero Village and the Turtle Conservation Center (entrance fee aprox. USD 2,- per person, not included). It is important to point out, that the local people used to earn their incoming with killing the sea turtles and sell meat and eggs to the markets in San José. Thanks to many years of education and voluntary efforts of nature activists, almost the whole population lives from tourism and protect nature. Return to the lodge. After dinner and from July to September, you have the possibility to book an optional night tour to the beach of Tortuguero, where the endangered Green Sea Turtles lay their eggs into the sand (not included, costs approx. USD 30,- per person).

Info 1: Together with our group, there are also other participants on the Tortuguero Tour days 12, 13 and 14. Even on private operation basis, the transfer to Tortuguero is on seat-in basis. This can’t be changed.

Info 2: The luggage is limited to 12 kg per person. We recommend to pack the things you need for days 15 to 17 into a smaller bag and send the main luggage with the driver to San José. It will be stored in your hotel in San José for you.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Mawamba Lodge ***, Standard, or similar

Day 13: Tortuguero National Park
Today during early morning hours as well as later the day, we will discover the canals of Tortuguero on two included boat trips. If you are lucky, you will be able to observe crocodiles, monkeys, turtles, sloths, bats, iguanas and of course allot birds. After lunch back at the lodge, we will again enjoy nature, this time on a walk through the rainforest. Thanks to many years of education and voluntary efforts of nature activists, almost the whole population of Tortuguero lives from tourism and protect nature. Return to the lodge. Dinner will be served in the restaurant after dawn.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Mawamba Lodge ***, Standard, or similar

Day 14: Tortuguero - San José
After breakfast we start our journey back to San José. Once again we will have the possibility to observe many birds and plants, before we change from water to land transportation, close to La Pavona or Caño Blanco. We will pass the Braulio Carillo National Park and will arrive to San José at around 5:00 p.m. Check-in at your hotel. The evening is at your leisure.

Info: Even on private operation basis, the transfer to San José is on seat-in basis. This can’t be changed.

Included meals:Breakfast, lunch
Accommodation:Hotel Tryp Sabana ***(*) or similar

Day 15: Transfer to the airport or extension
Transfer to Juan Santamaría Airport, check-in and end of our services. You can also book an extension program.
Included meals: breakfast

Included:
- All transfers and transportation during the roundtrip in comfortable vehicles with a/c (except on Ometepe Island, where vehicles generally do not provide a/c), and by boat according to programme
Bus sizes:

Nicaragua: 2-3 Pax Minibus, 4-7 Pax Microbus Typ Hiace for 16 passengers, 8-14 Pax Sprinter for 19 passengers, 15-18 Pax Coaster for 25 passengers
Costa Rica: 2-3 Pax 4x4 car, 4-6 Pax Bus with 12 seats, 7-15 Pax Bus with 19-22 seats, 16-24 Pax Bus with 24-27 seats, 25-40 Pax Bus with 42 seats - Accommodation at the mentioned hotel categories in standard rooms with private bathrooms incl. taxes
- Meals as per description
- English-speaking tour guide up from day 2. Tour guides change per country.
- All entrance fees for the mentioned excursions and activities (except Volcano Cerro Negro) Travel documentation with useful information (the program itself has to be provided by the travel agent)

 

- Not included:
- Tourist card upon entering Nicaragua, currently USD 10,- per person
- Border fee Nicaragua / Costa Rica, currently USD 3,- per person
- Airport departure tax Costa Rica, currently USD 28,- per person
- Volcano Cerro Negro (USD 40,- p.p., has to be booked while in León)
- Beverages
- Additional meals
- All extras in the hotels