The best of Nicaragua—a hiking, kayaking, & wildlife adventure tour
Awarded Outside magazine's 2007 "Trip of the Year" for the Bahamas, Mexico and Central America!
Nicaragua is a hot new destination for ecotourism, with its huge freshwater lakes, river systems, abundant wildlife, and the second largest rainforest in the Americas-all framed by a beautiful backdrop of some 40 mysterious volcanoes. On this adventure you'll explore its diverse habitats in a variety of modes: kayak and swim in large freshwater caldera lakes (including Lake Nicaragua-so vast you can't see across it!); hike on volcanoes draped in misty cloud forest; explore the lush rainforests of the Río San Juan; and marvel at fascinating pre-Columbian artifacts at Zapatera—an island volcano, now extinct.
You'll also visit local rainforest communities, the historic colonial town of Granada, and the vibrant markets and artists' studios of Catarina. Throughout, you'll be in the company of local conservation leaders and expert naturalist guides who will introduce you to the wonders of this fantastic destination.
3 days easy to moderate hiking, 3 days lake kayaking (no previous experience required), easy touring
- Hike through cloud forests on Volcan Mombacho and on Zapatera Island National Park, filled with pre-Columbian artifacts
- Kayak through hundreds of islands of Las Isletas on Lake Nicaragua
- Great wildlife viewing-spider and howler monkeys, toucans, and scarlet and great green macaws
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Managua End Location: ManaguaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Managua – Laguna de Apoyo
Arrive in Managua, Nicaragua, and transfer to an eco-resort on the banks of Apoyo Lagoon.
Day 2 : Volcan Mombacho – Catarina
Morning hike through the cloud forest of Volcan Mombacho with a local naturalist guide. Visit the artisan markets of Catarina, one of many pueblos blancos ("white villages") of the area, and enjoy a private tour of artists' studios. Return to the lodge to swim in the lagoon; kayaks and small sailboats are also available for exploring.
Day 3 : Granada – Las Isletas
After an early morning birding excursion, transfer to Granada, a town on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, then head to the lake for a day of kayaking through a beautiful archipelago of more than 300 islands.
Day 4 : Zapatera National Park
Take a boat to Zapatera National Park, an island that's an extinct volcano in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, where you'll explore several important archaeological sites rich in pre-Columbian artifacts. Optional hike to the summit of Zapatera Volcano (2,063') through lush tropical forests abounding in wildlife.
Day 5 : Transfer to Sabalos Lodge
Fly to the rainforests of the Río San Juan, on the southeastern border, a Conservation International Mega-Diversity Hotspot for wildlife.
Day 6 : El Castillo – Río San Juan
Explore the area by kayak, canoe, raft, motorized boat, and on foot, including a hike into the nearby Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve. Chance for nighttime spotting of caimans!
Day 7 : Río San Juan
We will have a number of different activity options today. After a full day in the rainforest we’ll have an optional trip to spot caimans at night near the lodge.
Day 8 : Return to Managua
Optional birding in the morning, followed by a flight back to Managua. Afternoon tour of some of Managua's museums and art galleries.
Day 9 : Departure
DATES: Best time to go: January - February, September - December Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
Hotel Los Robles
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.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
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.
Marvin Tórrez Gutiérrez
Marvin Tórrez Gutiérrez was born and raised in Nicaragua. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, along with specialized training in biodiversity conservation and natural resources management. His passion for natural history, animal behavior and relationships, have prompted his involvement in a USAID/Nicaragua project and conservation and sustainable tourism in critical watersheds. An enthusiast birder, Marvin has become known, in a very short time, as a charismatic naturalist guide. He combines his knowledge in tropical ecosystems and cultural heritage, giving participants a very joyful experience.