Although only a small country, Nicaragua packs in a lot of variety. On this eleven day tour, learn about the country's sustainability efforts while enjoying cultural experiences and fun outdoor excursions. Hike a volcano in the middle of a lake, visit an organic farm, and try your hand at pottery, weaving, and traditional cooking in a series of local-led workshops.

Highlights

  • Spend time with local people at the Los Chiles community visit
  • Hike up a volcano located in a lake at Ometepe
  • Take guided nature tours and learn about sustainable farming
  • Visit the historic city of Granada, with its colorful buildings

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Managua Managua
Day 2 Transfer to Jinotega; At leisure Jinotega
Day 3 Tour Jinotega Jinotega
Day 4 Tour of Matagalpa Nature reserve in Matagalpa
Day 5 Los Chiles community visit Matagalpa
Day 6 Optional activities in San Ramón Community homestay in San Ramon
Day 7 Ferry to Ometepe Island Ometepe
Day 8 Nature tour and Puesta del Sol Cooperative, Ometepe Ometepe
Day 9 Transfer to Granada, via Mombacho Granada
Day 10 Catarina and White Villages Granada
Day 11 Transfer Managua Airport  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Managua, Nicaragua's capital city

Managua

Welcome to Nicaragua! You'll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Managua, Nicaragua's capital. Depending on your time of arrival you can check out the city's restaurants and bars, as well as Roberto Huembes Market, an authentic Nicaraguan street market selling well-made souvenirs and handicrafts.

Day 2: Transfer to Jinotega; Afternoon at leisure

Jinotega

Today you are transferred to the city of Jinotega, a scenic 2.5-hour drive from Managua.

Afternoon at leisure, to explore Jinotega as you wish. Jinotega is located at 3280 feet (1000 m) above sea level, in a valley surrounded by mountains and trees. It is sometimes referred to as "Ciudad de las Brumas" (City of Mists). The city is home to many hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs, as well as interesting historical sites, rural villages, coffee plantations, and spectacular nature.

Day 3: Explore Jinotega

Jinotega

Today, enjoy a cultural tour of Jinotega. Begin with a visit to the charming village of San Rafael. Afterwards, stroll through the quiet streets of Jinotega, with its wall paintings and one of the most popular black pottery workshops in the region. Here you have the opportunity to learn how to use the wheel and mold the clay. End the tour with a cup of coffee in El Disparate de Potter, which has one of the most amazing viewpoints over the mountains.

Day 4: Transfer to Matagalpa; Tour of Matagalpa

Matagalpa Cathedral

Travel to Matagalpa (about 45 minutes away).

The city of Matagalpa is located in the north of Nicaragua and has been called the pearl of the north. It has quite a fresh climate as it is situated in a valley, surrounded by mountains. Matagalpa has a long history, and is now the center of Nicaragua's coffee production. Matagalpa has many restaurants and bars, as well as museums and other cultural attractions. Coffee farms, picturesque villages, and the waterfalls of the Santa Emilia River are nearby, and there are spectacular flora and fauna in the surroundings.

After arrival, you will be taken on a sustainable farm tour in Selva Negra. This place is recognized for pioneering innovative and sustainable farming methods. You can witness some of the methods used to build Selva Negras' sustainable reputation, visit the organic laboratory, cheese factory, greenhouses, chicken coops, and stables. You will learn about the meals that are served in the restaurant, and about the cattle and pastures. You are led past the coffee plantations and compost heap, where you can see how organic material is reduced, reused, and recycled.

Overnight in a hotel in the middle of a nature reserve.

Day 5: Los Chiles Community Visit

Hand-woven items

Today you'll get a chance to join a weaving workshop at Telares El Chile. The indigenous community of El Chile is widely known for its woven crafts. The local women make a large variety of products, such as bags, purses, and backpacks. The indigenous community of El Chile is a living example of the struggle for cultural and historic preservation. Telares El Chile is a weaving workshop, the women of which have become ambassadors of their community traditions. Take a walk in the community, where other groups of artisans also produce fabrics with ancient techniques. You may buy a product directly from the woman who made it! 

After enjoying a little workshop and having lunch with a local family, hike up the El Chile hill for a panoramic view over the surrounding area.

Day 6: Optional activities in San Ramón

San Ramon

Arrive in San Ramón, where you'll be staying at a homestay within the community. San Ramón is located in the mountainous north of Matagalpa. Enjoy a traditional lunch, followed by an introduction to the family you will be staying with.

Afterwards, you can choose to do a couple of the following optional activities: tour a coffee farm, forest, gold mine, agro-ecological gardens, and/or participate in a tortilla-making workshop before an early dinner. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour to an abandoned gold mine called "La Reina", to the "La Lima" waterfalls, or to the "Cerro de la Cruz" to learn about the politics and history of the native people.

Day 7: Transfer to Ometepe Island by ferry

Ometepe

After breakfast, transfer to San Jorge port, in the south of Nicaragua, which is about 3.5 hours' drive. Then, take the ferry to Ometepe Island, a journey of about an hour.

The island of Ometepe is situated in one of the world's largest freshwater lakes, Lake Nicaragua. Ometepe has served as home to indigenous tribes and cultures for many centuries, of which the many pre-Columbian petroglyphs are silent witnesses. The two volcanoes on the island, Concepción and Maderas, offer stunning views when approaching Ometepe by boat from the mainland. Both volcanoes have their own climate and unique vegetation and hiking either of them is a great way to enjoy spectacular views of the surroundings. Concepción is the larger of the two, at 5,282 feet (1610 m), and Nicaragua's second-largest volcano. The volcano is covered in tropical dry forest and can be climbed during a guided day tour.

Day 8: Nature tour and Puesta del Sol Cooperative

Cooking workshop

Start today's tour of Ometepe's natural treasures at Peña Inculta, a reserve where groups of white-faced and howler monkeys live. Other species found here are agoutis, squirrels, iguanas, and tropical birds such as trogons, wrens, and parrots.

Visit a local community where you can participate in a cooking workshop with the locals. Afterwards, visit the historical coffee hacienda Finca Magdalena, which was constructed in 1888. Here you will get an insight into the process of organic coffee cultivation. You can also take a short hike to some petroglyphs in the midst of nature. Have lunch overlooking the beach and continue to Ojo de Agua, a natural pool, where you can relax before heading back.

Day 9: Transfer to Granada via Mombacho

Mombacho

Today you will head to the old colonial city of Granada, via Mombacho.

Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve is a cloud forest with a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife. A truck will take you to the top of the volcano. After a short stop at the research station, explore the impressive natural surroundings on a guided hike. The well-maintained crater trail (1 mile / 1.6 km.) traverses dense cloud forest around the crater. You can enjoy views of Granada, Las Isletas, the Apoyo Lagoon, and the Masaya volcano. Be sure to keep an eye out for the howler and white-faced monkeys, sloths, and the endemic Mombacho salamander.

Continue onward to Granada. The city was founded in 1524, and is believed to be the second oldest city established in mainland Latin America by Spanish conquest. During colonial times, Granada saw much unrest as the city was attacked several times by pirates. Nowadays, Granada is characterized by colorful Spanish colonial architecture, visible throughout the city center. The ambiance is very pleasant, and there are many popular restaurants and bars, especially along the boulevard from the central park to the shores of Lake Nicaragua.

Day 10: Catarina and White Villages

Granada

Begin today's tour with a tasty lunch served at Catarina, at the top of Apoyo Lagoon. Then head to San Juan de Oriente, one of the so-called White Villages, where you visit a pottery workshop. Here you can witness local craftsmen produce fine ceramics out of clay. You will learn how to make clay objects and even have a go yourself.

Day 11: Depart from Managua Airport

Managua

Transfer to Managua Airport, a journey of about an hour. Goodbye Nicaragua!