Also great as a private trip. Call for details

Exploring the Cloud Forests and Pacific Coast of Nicaragua

We'll visit t Granada and San Juan del Sur, including the North – Jinotega, Estelí and Madriz.  This area is like traveling back in time with friendly local people, delicious traditional foods, and a relaxed life style that is quickly disappearing in other destinations.  Mixed in with this relaxed/tranquila area, are spectacular cloud forests, incredible canyons, a bustling coffee production area, dramatic Pacific coast and sea turtles!  We think the mix of activities and the warmth of the local people will make this a memorable experience.


Hiking, wildlife viewing, sea kayak, swim, snorkel & river floating.


  • Hike in protected cloud forest and learn about sustainable agriculture while looking for Quetzales
  • Explore a hidden gem, the spectacular Somoto Canyon while floating and swimming through the 1,000ft & cliffs of the canyon.
  • Sea-Kayak,snorkel and explore the hidden beaches of La Flor Wildlife refuge

Duration: 10 days Start Location: Managua End Location: Managua

Download Detailed Itinerary
  • Los_robles
    Day 1 : Arrive in Managua and transfer to Selva Negra

    You will be greeted upon your arrival in Managua and transferred to Selva Negra Mountain Resort,about 2 hours drive from Managua. We leave the heat of the central valley and climb into the pine-oak habitat of the central mountains. During coffee season (Dec. – Feb.) the region is bustling with activity as local producers prepare their harvests for market. We will have a brief orientation dinner at our lodge nestled under the cloud forest. 

    INCLUDED MEALS: Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Selva Negra - Matagalpa, Nicaragua
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    Day 2 : Selva Negra


    Birding is outstanding at Selva Negra.  Whenever our schedule permits we will always offer the optional morning nature walk - waking up a little earlier and take a short hike looking for rare birds and learn about the magic of the forest. We ease into our first day with a finca tour.  The Mountain Resort has an impressive effort in sustainability, not only on their tourism activities but also the coffee production, fair labor, bird friendly organic coffee... and the list goes on. In the afternoon we will visit the town of Matagalpa and we will indulge in a quick visit to a chocolate factory, which uses exclusively Nicaraguan cacao in a tasty combination of organic treats!

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Selva Negra - Matagalpa, Nicaragua
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    Day 3 : Arenal Nature Reserve & La Bastilla Ecolodge

    This will be our first serious day of cloud forest exploration as we hike to the heights of Selva Negra and descend into the adjoining El Arenal Nature Reserve. This will be about a 4 hours excursion finished off with a visit to a local restaurant for a delicious comida tipica (typical lunch).  After lunch we will transfer to La Bastilla Ecolodge which is perched high in the shade grown coffee fields of Natural Reserve Datanlí-El Diablo just below the lush cloud forests. We will be serenaded by bellbirds and hike the trails for sightings of the Resplendant Quetzals.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Bastilla Ecolodge - Datanli-EL Diablo Nature Reserve
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    Day 4 : Day-long exploration of Datanli-El Diablo.

    We will have a daylong exploration of Datanli-El Diablo. The nature reserve is bounding with biodiversity with over 170 species of orchids, 200 species of birds, and more than 70 species of land snails! No matter your interest, as long as its nature related, you will find the old-growth forests of Datanli a rewarding visit. We will experience real campesino cuisine with lunch in the local community of El Gobiado at Restaurante Buena Vista.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Bastilla Ecolodge - Datanli-EL Diablo Nature Reserve
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    Day 5 : Visit the Women's Cooperative Las Cuerñas and the town of San Rafael del Norte & Estelí

    We transition from the breathtaking natural attractions of the region and immerse ourselves in the rich local culture on our transfer to the town of Estelí. We begin with a visit to Lake Apanas where we can go kayaking on an interpretive aquatic trail. Then we visit a local women’s cooperative that have continued the tradition of black pottery, dating back to pre-Columbian times. Then we have lunch in the small town of San Rafael del Norte. After lunch we descend to the town of Estelí and visit a cigar factory, made famous from the seeds of Cuban tobacco. In the evening we have a savory meal at a famous local restaurant El Rincón Pinareño.

    Optional Activity: Feel the rush of a Zip line Tour in La Brellera, 11 Platforms full of adventure and fun.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Hotel Los Arcos Estelí - Estelí, Nicaragua
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    Day 6 : Cañón del Somoto

    Cañón de Somoto!  This hidden gem is a great adventure - exploring the Somoto Canyon.  We will use boats, inner-tubes and swim our way through the towering cliffs and warm waters of the Rio Coco.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Hotel Los Arcos Estelí - Estelí, Nicaragua
  • Day 7 : The Pacific Coast

    In the morning we head toward the beaches south of San Juan del Sur. Since it is a long journey we will break up the drive visiting the incredible Masaya Volcano which offers a “drive-up” smoldering crater. We will walk near the edge of the crater and take a look inside of the smoky caldera that was consider the mouth of hell by the early Spaniards. We will also have a quick stop in one of the Pueblos Blancos, small towns full of art, colorful flowers and outstanding views. Upon arrival we will have the remainder of the afternoon off to relax and enjoy the beach.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
    LODGING: Hotel El Coco - Parque Maritimo EL Coco
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    Day 8 : The Pacific Coast, Kayak & Snorkel

    In the morning we head toward the beaches south of San Juan del Sur. We have a full day to explore the Pacific coast and dry forests surrounding La Flor Wildlife Refuge.  We will have a kayaking trip along the dramatic coast.  A beach lunch and then snorkeling with sea turtles in the afternoon.  We wrap this day up with an evening observing a spectacle of nature – the arrival of thousand of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.  La Flor is one of only seven beaches worldwide that have major arribadas – Spanish for the nesting strategy of thousands of sea turtles laying their eggs at the same time.  Depending on a multitude of factors, anywhere from several dozen to 5,000 turtles arrive in one night!  We also have the treat of watching the hatchling turtles make their inspiring journey from earlier nests to the ocean.  A once in a life-time experience. Tonight dinner is on your own.

    NOTE: Arribadas peak between September – December.  Trips scheduled between February – July will not experience Arribadas.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch
    LODGING: Hotel El Coco - Parque Maritimo EL Coco
  • Day 9 : To Granada

    This is not to be missed. We will be transferred to the colonial city of Granada, a base of the Nicaragua history and, nowadays, the capital of tourism.  We will keep an open schedule with options for kayaking on Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca) and city tour.  Granada has many shops and restaurants and a pedestrian-only promenade.  Today lunch is on your own.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Dinner
    LODGING: Plaza Colón - Granada
  • Day 10 : Depart

    Morning transfer to the international airport in Managua (45 minutes) to connect with your outbound flight.

    INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast
Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: January - February, November - December Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.



$3,495 (4 to 10 members)
$4,095 (2 to 3 members)
$550 single supplement


Bring the Kids!

  • Plaza Colón

    Hotel Plaza Colon is located right in front of Parque Colón, known as Parque Central in the historical city of Granada. The hotel is set in an elegant antique colonial house that has been restored to its original style and architecture, with interior courtyards and balconies overlooking Central Park and the Cathedral.

    Granada has a cheerful night life full of bars and lounges; at the Hotel you can visit El Bar and enjoy your welcome cocktail “El Macua”, the national drink of Nicaragua. Right at the front of the Hotel you can take a horse drawn carriage and tour the city around.  Lilly's Cafe, just aside from the Hotel, will offer you a taste of the best Nicaraguan coffee.

  • Hotel Los Arcos Estelí
    Estelí, Nicaragua

    Estelí, 120 km north of Managua, the capital, on the Pan American Highway, is a fresh and welcoming village. By its position plays an important role as a commercial center. It is also dedicated to agriculture and especially to snuff that has become the basis of its economy and is considered one of the most valued in the world

  • Bastilla Ecolodge
    Datanli-EL Diablo Nature Reserve

    Located in the stunning Datanli-El Diablo nature reserve, at a height of 1200 msnm, La Bastilla Ecolodge, which was founded at the end of 2009, is a hidden gem in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua. At the ecolodge you can enjoy favourable weather, a primary forest, marvellous panoramic views from the facilities and hiking trails, coffee tours, exotic birds, crystalline streams – simply…nature!

    In addition to its spectacular surroundings, what truly distinguishes La Bastilla Ecolodge are its social and educational objectives, which you can support by volunteering with us - whilst improving your linguistic skills through Spanish classes. As the principal business of La Bastilla Agricultural Technical School, all profits from the ecolodge are invested in the education of students from low-income families, offering new generations opportunities to reduce poverty.

  • Hotel El Coco
    Parque Maritimo EL Coco

    Just 18 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur is situated Parque Marítimo el Coco, a resort specially conceived to allow our visitors to relax in a peaceful environment, in direct contact with nature. The resort - of category III - offers lodging in houses of different design).

  • Selva Negra
    Matagalpa, Nicaragua

    Selva Negra is an eco-resort and nature reserve, located at the base of the cloud forest. Surrounding the lodge is an organic farm and plantation that produces one of the most celebrated coffees in the world, and a rich abundance of pure food. Selva Negra -- a, coffee plantation, organic farm, scientific research station, wedding chapel and conference center is nestled in the mountains of Nicaragua and united by a philosophy of living in harmony with nature.

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.

  • Mark Willuhn

    Mark Willuhn has been leading tours in Mesoamerica since 1996, and his enthusiasm for ancient Maya culture and tropical ecosystems has taken him through southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Mark is passionate about sharing his knowledge of the region, and believes the best way to understand its culture and natural wonders is firsthand, by hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. His dedication to the area's rich natural and cultural heritage means he works with local guides, operators and conservation organizations. Mark has an undergraduate degree in forestry from Colorado State University and an MBA from San Francisco State University. He has guest lectured at the graduate level at Colorado State University, participated and presented at numerous workshops relating to micro-enterprise development and sustainable tourism, and facilitated numerous planning workshops. Mark's vast knowledge and knack for storytelling makes this area's culture and history come alive.

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Activity Ratings


Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.


More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.


Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.


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