Best of Nicaragua Tour

Nicaragua – Best of Nicaragua Tour – a 13 day Small Group Tour

Nicaragua is a country haunted by years under the rule of particularly nasty US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. A revolutionary struggle by the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front, led by Daniel Ortega, finally liberated the country in 1979. In 1984 Ortega was elected president thus heralding a new anti-Sandinista struggle by ‘Contras’, rebels armed and trained by the US. Funding of this insurgency was facilitated by a bizarre arrangement in which US secretly sold arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It’d be hard to make this stuff up.

Though ousted in later elections by US-financed political opponents, Ortega is now once more president. However, his military fatigues have been replaced by Armani suits, his Russian jeep has morphed into a black Mercedes, and his wife, Rosario, is Vice-President.

Nothing about Nicaragua is ever black or white.

This tour visits UNESCO World Heritage cities, incredible landscapes of towering volcanic peaks, immense lakes populated by hundreds of islands, and plantations that produce some of the world’s best coffee.

Visitors are increasingly drawn to its wonderfully unspoilt landscapes, where the bucolic tranquillity of countryside little changed over the centuries has as its counterpoint seething volcanoes and the legacy of earthquakes in times gone by.

Here you will find a couple of the continent’s finest Spanish colonial cities, Granada and Léon. Spruced up now, with their central Spanish cores faithfully restored, they have a real historical atmosphere, with lovely old mansions, baroque churches and cobbled lanes. And in Leon we will stay with a local family, an ideal opportunity to meet the friendly Nicaraguan people. Next stop will be the Selva Negra Cloudforest where we will learn about coffee production. And then we continue to Lake Nicaragua and the quiet island of Ometepe, whose isolation has protected it from the political upheavals of the past, and held back modern development. Finally, the trip ends with a relaxing stay at San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast.

For a small country Nicaragua has some big stories. Visit yourself to hear them first-hand.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


(approx. driving time today: 35 min)

On arrival at Nicaragua International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight Los Robles Hotel or similar. No meals are included today.

(approx. driving time today: 3 hours)

This morning we enjoy a short city tour of Managua. We will explore both the historical and modern facets of the city. Our first stop is Tiscapa Crater Lake where you have superb views over the entire city. On a clear day, you will be able to see several volcanoes to the north of the city. You can’t miss the large silhouette of the famous revolutionary General Sandino statue that stands overlooking the Tiscapa Crater Lake. Next, we head over to the old city and the National Palace, the Old Cathedral, the National Theatre, the President’s house. We also stop at Salvador Allende Port and to Malecon, Managua’s favourite place for a lakeside drink. Continue to the Old Leon Ruins, a UNESCO world heritage site, before heading to Leon. On arrival we explore numerous colonial buildings, among them Nicaragua´s first university. In addition, you can climb to the rooftop of Central America´s largest cathedral, recently added to UNESCO´s list of World Heritage sites, and enjoy astonishing views over the city and the surrounding Maribios Volcanic Chain. Overnight Hotel Austria or similar. (BL)

Early this morning you will have the option to join an excursion to hike to the top of the Cerro Negro Volcano. At approximately 7am, transfer for about one hour to the base of the volcano where you begin the ascent on foot from the north side, reaching the main crater after approximately one and a half to two hours. You hike first on trails and later on a kind of black dune created by former lava. As you reach the foot of the volcano you begin an easy climb up to the first of two active and vibrant craters. From here follow the edge of the crater to get to the second crater and highest point of the volcano. Standing on top of Cerro Negro, you have an unforgettable view stretching right over the volcanic chain. Spend approximately one hour around the main crater before returning at your hotel at approximately midday. The afternoon is at leisure. Overnight Hotel Austria or similar. (B)

Note: You should have a good level of physical fitness in order to undertake the climb to the top of the Cerro Negro. Alternatively, you can remain in Leon and take a short boat tour of the Juan Venado island in the morning.

(approx. driving time today: 3 hours)

After breakfast we head to Hervideros de San Jacinto, a surprising area full of small volcanic craters, with boiling mud and water vapor. It is possible to walk on this hot surface around the craters. We continue to Selva Negra Cloud Forest where you can explore the property on your own. Overnight Selva Negra Hotel or similar. (B)

After breakfast we take a walking coffee tour. Learn about the whole process of coffee. History, location, climate, topography, sustainable use of bi-products and the social programmes are among the many aspects you will learn. We will get a chance to visit the nurseries, and plantations. After our coffee tour we will visit a local farm. We will witness many sustainable farming methods and pass by the organic laboratory, the worker’s housing, the greenhouses, cheese house, chicken coops, and stables. Overnight Selva Negra Hotel or similar. (B)

(approx. driving time today: 3 hours)

Today we head south to the colonial city of Granada. On arrival we take a city tour by horse-drawn carriage obtaining a good sense of the rich history and authenticity of Spanish-colonial Granada. This afternoon we continue to Lake Nicaragua for a relaxing boat ride around some of the islands formed by the impressive Mombacho volcano. A boat trip through the Isletas of Granada is a great way to explore Lake Cocibolca, also known as Lake Nicaragua. These small islands are inhabited by families who make their living from fishing, while other islands are host to extravagant villas owned by Nicaragua’s rich and famous. Along the way the guide will point out some of the prolific birdlife to be found on the lake as well as explaining about the history of the area. Overnight Colonial Hotel or similar. (BL)

After breakfast, we travel to San Juan de Oriente, one of the so called ‘Pueblos Blancos’ where we will see its white colonial architecture. Here we will find beautiful arts and crafts as well as nurseries with beautiful flowers. We continue to Catarina and its viewpoint which offers amazing views over the area and then arrive at the bottom of the Masaya Volcano National Park. The Masaya Volcano is still active and is the only volcano in the western hemisphere where it is possible to drive to the rim and see the smoking crater. If we are lucky, we might encounter rare green parakeets which make their home at the volcano. From there, we embark another vehicle which takes us to the summit of the crater Santiago, notorious for displaying a gaseous activity and an incandescent lava lake in its interior. We take an opportunity to see inside the crater of the volcano, observing the red and glowing lava before to return to Granada. Overnight Colonial Hotel or similar. (BL)

We start the day with a visit to Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve to hike the Crater Trail. Suitable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness we will hike for around 2 hours and learn about the flora and fauna of the area. If conditions are clear we will visit an impressive viewpoint to take in wide vistas of the country’s pacific region, the neighbouring city of Granada, and the great lake of Nicaragua and its islands. After the hike, return to Granada and the rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight Colonial Hotel or similar. (B)

Note: If you do not wish to do the hike, you can remain in Granada and enjoy a full day at your own leisure.

(1.45-hour ferry crossing)

Today, we transfer to the port of San Jorge, at the shores of Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca as the locals call it, and take the ferry to Isla de Ometepe. On arrival, transfer to the hotel and the afternoon is at leisure. There are many activities that you can arrange directly with your hotel. Overnight San Juan de la Isla Lodge or similar. (BL)

Enjoy today a tour of the island, including the visit to Ojo de Agua, a small sculpture park of pre-Colombian ceramics, and the Museo de Ometepehas containing local ethnographic and environmental themes. Overnight San Juan de la Isla Lodge or similar. (B)

(1-hour ferry crossing; approx. driving time today: 2 hours)

Today, we take the ferry back to the mainland and continue to San Juan del Sur, in the south west. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight Victoriano Hotel or similar. (B)

Today is a leisure day. You can choose to simply relax at the nice hotel or perhaps try your hand at surfing. Another option is to go to Flor Beach to witness mass arrivals of turtles (during the season, August-January). The beach is a protected wildlife reserve because of the seasonal presence of Olive Ridley turtles that take place every year between August and January. Thousands of turtles arrive during certain nights to lay eggs at this one specific beach. About 50 days later, thousands of eggs hatch and the baby turtles try to make their way to the Pacific. Overnight Victoriano Hotel or similar. (B)

(approx. driving time today: 3 hours)

This morning we return to the capital and we transfer to the Managua International Airport where our tour ends. Your flight should not depart before 13:00. (B)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 3 travellers.

Single Supplement £555.

Return flights from London to Managua start from around £495. Please contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Extra night accommodation pre tour costs from £74 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £123 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Post tour accommodation costs from £50 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £78 per person, per night in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

Mapped itinerary.

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Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Nicaragua - Best of Nicaragua Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • All accommodation
  • Ground Transportation
  • Regular ferry tickets to / from Ometepe Island
  • Services of an English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Any airport taxes
  • Optional activities on Days 9 and 11
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa if applicable
  • Drinks
  • Tips (discretionary)

Nicaragua is a great mix of culture, history and nature. I loved the variety on this tour and the hotels and guesthouses that we stayed in had a wonderful local flavour.

Adam Steel, UK