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London – Miami - Managua
Fly from London in the morning to meet your evening flight from Miami bound for Nicaragua. You’ll arrive in Managua in the evening and be taken to your boutique hotel, just a short walk from some of Managua’s most fashionable restaurants, cafés and shops.
Stay: One night in a double room at Los Robles.
Just 90 minutes from Managua lies the handsome old capital city of Leon, with its historic centre and colonial architecture. The first of two half day tours will reveal Leon’s political, military, cultural, and religious history and you won’t fail to notice the strong Spanish influence on the city’s streets, classic buildings, churches, and monuments – especially the Metropolitan Cathedral with its breath-taking views over the old town and volcanic skyline.
Your second tour takes you to Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve – part of Nicaragua’s impressive national parks system and an important coastal wetland region. From Las Peñitas beach you’ll take a two hour boat ride to gain a different perspective on this wildlife-rich area.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at El Convento.
A drive of about three hours through luxuriant countryside brings you to Matagalpa where you’ll be staying on a coffee plantation which is virtually self- sustainable. It’s a fascinating little ‘country within a country’ nestling in the picturesque hills of Selva Negra in the highlands of Central Nicaragua – the perfect place for hiking across photogenic countryside, riding horses along trails through the cloud forest, watching the rich local birdlife and learning about the production of coffee and cacao.
Stay: Two nights in a bungalow at Selva Negra Ecolodge.
Today you set off for Granada – another major ancient city – stopping on the way for lunch and to take in the exceptional views from Masaya Volcano. You’ll be able to visit Masaya Lagoon – a beautiful volcanic lake – and learn about tectonic plates, volcanic action and the flora and fauna of the region. At the summit of the active Santiago Crater you’ll discover more about the area and see the astonishing birds living on the toxic crater walls.
In Granada the oldest continuously occupied city in the Americas will be revealed by a walking tour that shows you the cathedral of Granada, La Casa de los Tres Mundos, El Convento San Francisco, the churches La Merced and Xalteva and a parade of colonial buildings. Another trip to a volcano is also on the cards; at Mombacho you’ll see how a volcano can be home to many species of animals and plants, including more than 80 varieties of orchids. At the summit you can walk around the crater to the steam vents and explore three hiking paths.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at the Plaza Colon.
Now a change of scenery awaits as you exchange active volcanoes for a tranquil lake. A short boat ride takes you to across Lake Nicaragua to Jicaro Island where you’ll be staying in an eco-lodge that specialises in activities like nature discovery, hiking around the island, kayaking and bird watching. Not to mention indulging in fine food, lazing in over-size hammocks, swimming in the infinity pool and enjoying relaxing massages.
Stay: Two nights in a casita at Jicaro Island Lodge.
Your next stop is Ometepe Island which is known for its prodigious birdlife, its howler monkeys and fireflies dancing in the banana trees. A tour of this wonderful droplet of unspoiled nature includes learning about the ethnic inhabitants of the island at the Numismatic & Pre-Columbian Museum, and a trip through various rural villages to reach the natural reserve of Charco Verde. Here you’ll see colourful birds, mammals, reptiles, plants, breath-taking landscapes and Charco Verde Lake. You’ll lunch the on shores of Lake Nicaragua before moving on to Ojo de Agua.
The next day will be a little more strenuous as you hike on Volcan Maderas, through a cloud forest full of howler and capuchin monkeys, exotic birds, butterflies and amazing orchids, and learn about the region’s five different eco-systems. You can swim in the crater’s lagoon which is surrounded by steeply banked forest and often shrouded in an eerie mist; an unforgettable experience.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at San Juan de la Isla.
You’ll find your next destination aptly named. The Emerald Coast stretches between Tola and El Astillero and is lined with sandy beaches and tumbling surf, set against a backdrop of verdant forest-cloaked hills. The place is a beach-lover’s nirvana and you’ll be staying in one of the most luxurious resorts on the entire coast. So you’ll be able to indulge yourself in a relaxing spa, play golf on a beautiful but challenging course, take nature walks along four kilometres of coastline, set off on boat trips to visit remote islands, go snorkelling, try water sports in the warm sea and take a relaxing yoga class. You could even become involved in the local rum tasting sessions.
Stay: Three nights in an ocean view Bohio bungalow at the Mukul Resort.
Managua – Miami - London
You transfer back to Managua Airport to board your early afternoon flight to Miami where you’ll connect with your overnight flight to London. You’ll land at Heathrow the following morning.
It was a great experience and now I have dipped my toes in the Ultimate waters I shall be back for more.- JE, October