Those on group flights will arrive in the evening and be transferred (40 minutes) from the airport to the beautiful colonial city of Granada. Those on land only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel. Located on the shore of Lake Nicaragua, Granada is Nicaragua's fourth largest city, with a rich heritage and culture Accommodation: Hotel con Corazon or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
After breakfast we venture into Granada for a walking tour taking in the cobbled streets and striking colonial buildings. Our city tour will include the main cathedral and markets as well as the beautiful San Francisco Church, from which we’ll have an exceptional view of the city. Granada is highly regarded for its traditional craftsmanship and manufacturing of local products. Spend the early afternoon wondering the quant streets and exploring the local markets. Or if chocolate is your go to then spend the afternoon learning about the history of cocoa and how to make your very own chocolate bar in Granada’s chocolate museum. In the late afternoon we take a peaceful boat tour around Las Isletas, a cluster of islands within Lake Nicaragua. These volcanic islands were created when Mombacho Volcano erupted more than twenty thousand years ago. They are now a haven for wildlife and some are now permanently inhabited by people living in private residences alongside restaurants and guesthouses. Accommodation: Hotel con Corazon or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
We start early to visit the Mombacho Volcano Reserve. The last eruption of Mombacho was over five hundred years ago and now the slopes are covered with pristine cloud forest where a wide array of unique, and in some cases endemic, species can be found. We'll walk through the forest on well-marked trails to the summit of the volcano, from where there are remarkable views of Granada and Lake Nicaragua. This is a moderate hike although it can be slippery in places. On the slopes half way up the volcano is Las Flores café farm, our destination for this afternoon. After lunch at the farm, we take a guided tour to watch the process of producing sustainably harvested shade grown coffee. All of the coffee produced by Las Flores is certified by the Rainforest Alliance - after our tour we'll have the opportunity to taste the different varieties of coffee and buy some as a souvenir. Accommodation: Hotel con Corazon or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
In the morning we head to the enchanted Laguna de Apoyo. The Laguna de Apoyo was created over 20,000 years ago when a giant volcano imploded, creating a huge crater which filled with water. It is one of Nicaragua’s most stunning natural wonders. The rest of the day is free to spend swimming, kayaking or relaxing in the warm clear waters of this crater lagoon. At dusk to head up to the crater of the very active Masaya Volcano where we can see the glow from lava in the crater as night falls. Accommodation: Hotel con Corazon or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
This morning you are free to relax and enjoy Granada at your own pace. In the late morning we transfer to the charming seaside town of San Juan del Sur, about two hours south west of Granada. This sleepy fishing community is nestled within a tranquil bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean. To the north and south of San Juan del Sur there are pristine beaches and wonderful calm bays for swimming. There are also some great surfing beaches in the area. During turtle nesting season (July to January), there will be an optional 4WD excursion to visit La Flor Reserve in the evening. La Flor is a protected nesting ground for endangered sea turtles such as the Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtle. Covering more than 3,000 hectares, nesting turtles visit the shores of this reserve to lay their eggs. Leatherback turtles tend to arrive alone whereas Olive Ridley turtles arrive en masse - a spectacular sight! These tend to be tied into the phases of the moon but as this is nature it is unpredictable. Accommodation: Hotel Victoriano or similar *Standard Hotel*
Today is free for you to enjoy the Pacific beaches of the San Juan region. We offer a number of optional excursions to help you explore the area, including fishing and sailing. Accommodation: Hotel Victoriano or similar *Standard Hotel*
We transfer to Rivas where we board a ferry for the one-hour journey across Lake Nicaragua to Ometepe Island. The volcanoes of Concepion and Maderas characterise Ometepe, their majestic peaks connected by a small strip of land to make an hourglass shaped island. Ometepe means 'two peaks' in the traditional náhuatl language spoken by indigenous ancestors. At 276 square kilometres, it is home to a vibrant population, many who survive principally by farming and fishing. Ometepe has a rich archaeological background due to the mix of tribes and cultures that inhabited the island, with petroglphys found in some parts. This afternoon we visit the museum of Ometepe then enjoy a late afternoon stroll through the Charcoverde area, looking at the wildlife and beautiful landscape of the area. Accommodation: Finca San Juan dela Isla or similar *Standard Hotel*
Today we hike through agricultural land and cloud forest within the Maderas Volcano Reserve to a lookout point from where there are spectacular views over the lake and the island. Please be aware that the trails here can be muddy and aren't always well maintained. On return we pass through Ojas de Agua, small natural spring pools perfect for swimming and relaxing after the morning hike. Accommodation: Finca San Juan dela Isla or similar *Standard Hotel*
This morning we depart the island of Ometepe and move onward to the colonial city of Leon, visiting the Masaya market and the charming white towns of Los Pueblos Blancos on route. At the market, one of Nicaragua's greatest, you'll be able to find a wealth of traditional Nicaraguan handicrafts and foods from all over the country. Our next stop will be the town of San Juan De Oriente, which is famous for its tradition of pottery making. We visit the home and workshop of one the town’s greatest potters to learn about and watch the process of traditional pottery making and we each have the opportunity to try it for ourselves. We continue onwards to the colonial town of Leon for the evening. Accommodation: La Perla Hotel or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
León’s history will be brought to life this morning as we take a walking tour around the centre, visiting the cathedral (recently classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), art galleries, street murals, a museum dedicated to the famous poet Ruben Dario and the site where the brutal dictator Somoza was shot. After lunch in the Central Park, the afternoon can be spent relaxing or exploring this colonial city. For a more active afternoon the optional tour of an off road drive to the active Telica volcano, a 45 minute hike goes to the summit of the crater for sunset over the Pacific Ocean. After a hike back down the volcano we enjoy a local dinner in a small community of houses situated on the side of the volcano. This is a real chance to interact with the local culture of Nicaragua. Accommodation: La Perla Hotel or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
We leave early this morning to explore one of León's greatest attractions - the Cerro Negro Volcano, Central America's youngest active volcano, where we hike to the summit (approx. 45 minutes) and peer straight into the crater. Cerro Negro is part of the Maribios volcanic chain and from the summit there are incredible panoramic views of the chain as well as León in the distance. On a very clear day the view extends to the Pacific Ocean. From here we return to León for lunch. In the afternoon we say goodbye to León and head on to Managua. En route we stop to try a Nicaraguan delicacy called a Quesillo, a local soft cheese wrapped in a corn tortilla topped with cream and pickled onion - try it! Once in Managua we will visit some interesting spots of Nicaragua's capital then we'll head out for a farewell meal. Accommodation: Los Pinos or similar *Standard Hotel*
Those on group flights will depart today for Managua International Airport. Land-only passengers, the trip ends after breakfast.
* 6 nights comfortable hotels and 5 nights standard hotels in a variety of colonial and modern properties, all with en suite rooms * Travel by private minibus and 4WD * Boat and local ferries used
Food is included as per the day to day descriptions on the itinerary. Nicaraguan cuisine tends to be dominated by meat (principally beef) accompanied with rice and beans, a staple dish known as gallo pinto and found throughout the country. Hotel breakfasts are usually buffet style and consist of fruit, cereals, eggs, toast, gallo pinto, juice and tea/coffee. Vegetarians are generally well catered for although please be sure to advise us of any specific dietary requirements before departure.
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