Heart of Nicaragua
November 18-25, 2017 (El Baile de Negras)
8 days, 7 nights
If you want to know what's in the heart of Nicaragua this tour is for you. Looking on any map of Nicaragua, it's clear why it is called the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes but it's also a land of rich culture, complex history, and resilient people who know how to turn very little into a bounty.
Nicaragua is a land of rich culture, complex history, and resilient people who know how to turn very little into a bounty. There is no other time of year in which this is showcased more spectacularly than the annual celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Purísima for short. Both in León and Granada we will join the Nicaraguans in the city streets as they participate in ten days of non-stop processions, music and fireworks. The air is charged with alegría, and their faith and hopefulness is nothing short of contagious.
Arrive early. Our journey begins in the capital city. We’ll set off through Managua’s busy streets. For first time visitors and history buffs alike, this city tour will tell the story of civil war, natural disaster, and survival. We’ll visit plazas, statues, and
Viva León Jodido!
The city of León is a living reminder of the revolution. Vivid murals appear around every corner depicting deeply felt sentiment and national heroes. During our walk about town you will have a chance to talk to some of the men who were in the middle of the action and hear their personal stories. From the top of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the León Cathedral, you will be able to see Nicaragua’s chain of volcanoes from Volcano San Cristóbal (the highest in Nicaragua) south to Volcano Momotombo, the clean and tidy local market will impress as will the sophisticated art museums, showcasing a noteworthy collection of regional and international art.
A short drive west from the ctiy lies the Pacific Ocean. Juan Venado Island separates the salt water from the mangroves. It will be a leisurely boat ride from the local fishing village to the thinnest strip of land where we will cross on foot to where the mighty waves roll in. Our captain will share with you how the local community is doing their part to protect this important ecosystem.
Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s national rum, continues to gain international recognition. We’ll visit the heart of the operation in Chichigalpa and taste 18-year perfection.
Nicaragua is the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes. Active volcanoes. None as active and young as Cerro Negro. A hike up in the late afternoon will offer a spectacular view of the sun setting over the volcanic chain. Then choose your decent - suited up riding a wooden sand board or an easy “run” back down to the bottom.
Masaya, The Cradle of Folklore
We head south to pineapple country. The undulating countryside is prolific. We’ll take you to visit with a local farmer making his living off this sweet fruit. See how life is lived in el campo (the countryside), its challenges and rewards.
Volcán Masaya National Park was established in 1979 as Nicaragua’s first national park. We’ll spend time exploring the park’s several craters, peering into one of the country’s most visibly active volcanoes.
The steep climb to Coyotepe, built as a fortress in 1893 to protect Masaya, later used as a prison, now a national landmark maintained by the Boy Scouts, offers a spectacular view that gives us a good idea for the landscape that makes up the largest country in Central America.
We’ll pass through Los Pueblos Blancos on our way to Catarina, where local handicraft makers are famous for their woven fiber ad precious hardwood furniture, hand-turned ceramics, and sweets. In San Juan de Oriente, artists offer pottery-making demonstrations and sell their work alongside the narrow village streets. In the hillside pueblo of Catarina is the Mirador, a vantage point that allows you to look out over Laguna de Apoyo, Granada, Lake Nicaragua, and the Island of Ometepe in the distance.
On Sundays during October and November, in celebration of Masaya’s Paton Saint, San Jerónimo, dancers take to the streets and to the homes of friends and relatives to perfrom El Baile de Negras. They show off in elegant costumes, bedazzled footwear and hand painted mesh masks to hide their identity. Most notably all the female personas are men.
Granada, Colonial Jewel
We’ll give you time to explore the relaxed colonial city of Granada at your own pace. Granada is both the oldest city on the continent and the most developed tourist destination. Nowhere else in the country will you find such an array of excellent restaurants offering both local and international fare. We’ll show you the highlights, walk the colorful streets, tour the market, churches and museums.
Nearby, along the shores of Lake Nicaragua, a boat is waiting to guide us through the many water corridors around Las Isletas, an exotic tropical archipelago of 365 tiny islands of volcanic origin. A great way to get up close to myriad water birds that inhabit the shoreline and the curious spider monkeys that swing from the treetops. We will also debark to visit a local family who makes their living fishing the sweet waters.
Volcán Mombacho rises nearly 4,400 feet above sea level, its summit hidden in a dense cloud forest. We’ll hike around one of its forest-lined craters through an amazing ecosystem, home to colorful orchids and bromeliads, curious wildlife, fascinating insects, and over 160 species of birds. You’ll also get a first-hand look at a shade-grown coffee farm and processing plant.
Rounding out your visit, you will spend the afternoon swimming/floating in the thermal, crystalline crater lake waters of Laguna de Apoyo or opt to kayak along the shoreline. However you choose to use your time, it will be well spent!
What is included
Group is limited to eight (8) participants so reserve your place early. If you are a group with at least 6 people and would like to arrange your own travel dates, please contact us. Tour cost is for double occupancy. Single room supplement is $325.
Additional travel extension packages are available. Come early or stay late and really get to know Nicaragua! Ask us!
NOTE: The conditions on this tour can be difficult due to the nature of the developing world. While accommodations are upscale for Nicaragua, there may still be issues with electricity, water, access to the internet, and Nicaraguan culture continues to run on its own schedule - that's why we adore it!