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: ManaguaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Managua
You will be greeted upon your arrival in Managua and transferred to our hotel. Most international arrivals (currently) are in the evening, between 7:30 and 9:00 PM. We will have a brief orientation dinner.
Day 2 : Selva Negra
We leave the heat of the central valley and climb into the pine-oak habitat of the central mountains. During coffee season the region is bustling with activity as local producers prepare their harvests for market. But before we dive into the coffee culture, we will indulge in a quick visit to a chocolate factory which uses exclusively Nicaraguan cacao in a tasty combination of organic treats!
We will spend two nights at the highland resort of Selva Negra. This is an impressive effort in sustainability, not only on their tourism efforts but also the coffee production, fair labor, bird friendly organic coffee..and the list goes on.
We will arrive at Selva Negra late morning and have lunch along the small lake nestled in the cloud forests and shade coffee. Birding is outstanding. After lunch we will have a short hike and then tour of the integrated sustainable systems of Selva Negra.
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 6 hours excursion finished off with a visit to a local restaurant for a delicious typical lunch Nica style. We will return to Selva Negra late afternoon. We transfer to our next site in the Datanli-El Diablo Nature Reserve to the La Bastilla Ecolodge. La Bastilla is perched high in the shade grown coffee fields of Datanli just below the lush cloud forests. We will be serenaded by bellbirds and hike the trails for sightings of the Resplendent Quetzals.
Day 4 : Day-long exploration of Datanli-El Diablo.
We transfer to our next site in the Datanli-El Diablo Nature Reserve to the La Bastilla Ecolodge. La Bastilla is perched high in the shade grown coffee fields of Datanli just below the lush cloud forests. We will be serenaded by bellbirds and hike the trails for sightings of the Resplendant Quetzals.
Day 5 : Visit the town of Estelí & San Rafael del Norte
We will have two options for our day-long exploration of Datanli-El Diablo, on foot or on horseback. 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. Both groups will meet up for lunch in the local community of El Gobiado for a fantastic lunch at Restaurante Buena Vista.
Day 6 : Estelí & San Rafael del Norte
We take a break 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.
Day 7 : 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.
Day 8 : To Granada
We say good bye to Estelí and head toward to the colonial city of León. We will have an impressive experience visiting the youngest volcano in Central America, Cerro Negro. Its name due to it is covered with black sand and rocks. Sandboarding Cerro Negro is a unique activity! After lunch we will break up the drive with an overnight in the charming colonial town of Granada. Our hotel is located on the central plaza and we will be able to explore the little shops and historic architecture of the one of the first cities established in the country.
Day 9 : 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. NOTE: Arribadas peak between September – December. Trips scheduled between February – July will not experience Arribadas.
Day 10 : Depart
Morning transfer to Managua and connect with your outbound flights.
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.
Bring the Kids!
Hotel Los Robles
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 EstelíEstelí, 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 EcolodgeDatanli-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.
Selva NegraMatagalpa, 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.
Hotel El CocoParque 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).
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 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.