Itinerary for one week.
Arrival at the international airport and transfer to your hotel.
Day 1: Visit to the colonial city of Granada including a boat ride on the little Islands of Granada at Lake Nicaragua.
Day 2: Day trip to the city of Masaya, visiting the first national park of Nicaragua Masaya Volcano, Masaya art craft market, Catarina view point, San Juan de Oriente pottery town and canopy tour at Mombacho volcano.
Day 3: Transfer to Ometepe Island. Lunch at Moyogalpa and later walking tour in charco Verde. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon in your hotel.
Day 4: Full day trip on the island visiting Finca Magdalena, Finca El Porvenir, Playa santo domingo la piedra inculta trail, Altagracia y el ojo de agua. Or hike one of the two volcanoes Maderas volcano or Concepcion volcano. Or hike at San Ramon Waterfall.
Day 5 and 6: Transfer to San Juan Del Sur and enjoy of the beach.
Day 7: Transfer back to Managua airport.
Now to transport your self to Granada you can get in touch with shuttle services as Paxeos is one of the many shuttle services in Nicaragua there are many others as Adelante express or Iskra travel but they are located in SJDS.
if need more help will be my pleasure to give you a hand
Thanks for the info, Byron. A couple of follow up questions: is SJDS too much of a generic surf town to get a real Nicaraguan feel and would be better to check out someplace else? What's the transportation situation to Isla? I've heard it's better to to go to San Jorge than to take a ferry from Granada. Thanks!
In SJDS you will find a good mix of locals and foreigners by far is a surf area there are not good breaks there surfers has to go another places as marsella, maderas to do surfing, if want to go to different restaurants and cafes SJDS is a good spot to stay, as soon as you get the island you will see many people offering transportation to any place on the island you decide if is a shared one or a private the price will depend on the hotel that you are going and yes the best way to get to the island is via San Jorge on Rivas the ferry or wood lanchas run evry hour, becuase from Granada there are only 2 days monday and thursday that goes to the island about 03:00pm and arrive at altagracia about 07:00am
Central America is one of our favorite destinations, and we've been to Costa Rica / Mexico seven times. Friends recommended Nicaragua: "It's like Costa Rica was 15 years ago, before all of the touristas arrived!" So we booked our first trip in April of 2012. It was fabulous!
Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in the Americas, however, after Haiti -- so we expected things to be rougher. What a surprise! We were pleased to find that almosts everyone we met was Nicaraguan, very friendly and helpful Granada was very nice and the restaurants, shops and museums we visited were the equal of Costa Rica. The tap water in Granada is even safe to drink!
The country is also comparatively safe, despite the history of civil war. Safer than Mexico (and even Costa Rica) -- where the narco cartels have gained power. We spent hours walking around Granada, with no problem. (You wouldn't want to stroll around Granada's beach area at night, however -- just like Boston and NYC.)
A few recommendations:
> Volcan Masaya, a few miles outside Granada: Your can walk right up to the edge of the roaring caldera, with lava bubling hundreds of feet below, belching steam and gas. At night, the red lake of lava is visible. Our hotel (Jicaro Lodge) arranged a driver / guide to take us there.
> Volcan Mochambo: After a drive to the summit, there is a nice (but a bit strenuous) hike around the top -- with a surprising view of steam venting from the 'hidden' side, and a great view of the circle of islands in Lago Nicaragua -- which were created by Volcan Mochambo when it blew up, a few hundred thousand years ago.
> If you have the time and $$ and want to kick back, Jicaro Lodge is a great place to relax -- an ecolodge on an island in Lago Nicaragua, about 15 minutes by water taxi from Granada. Just nine casitas, all at water's edge, with a great restaurant, service to match, and spectacular views. Many of the islands are still home to families who fish in the lake. Ask for the new 'national drink', the Maqua. This was truly a slice of paradise!
> If you visit Granada, the central square and the Chocolate and Archaeology Museums are good stops -- if you like this sort of thing. The central 'walking street' and nearby streets in Granada also have a number of shops and good restaurants. Everything is in walking distance for most people.
> After our flight arrived late in the evening, we stayed at the Hilton in Managua (very nice) - then headed straight to Jicaro Lodge in Lago Nicaragua, with a driver they arranged.
I hope this is helpful!
The above suggestions are great! One place to avoid, however, is Galeria Ubago. This quaint downtown gallery of beautiful local art runs a tourist scam. They will sell you art at discounted prices with an offer to ship for free (and you can include your other purchases, such as hammocks, etc). However, the purchase is never shipped and money never refunded. Check other travel sites for verification of this scam. Don't be fooled by the gracious, friendly demeanor of the sales staff & Silvio Ubago, the owner. This is nothing more than robbery, conducted in a professional manner. Let them know you have been warned. Take your business elsewhere!
Señor Mark Hays
This is the things that people really like to hear about Nicaragua, is a safe country and I have been telling people about it, even I have been the only one writing down things about it of course supported by the local government of US and the Uk government offices because there are many traveler that they don´t travel if is not approved by their government, maybe because of insurance papers or just common safety , but is a nice place to visit, one of the poorest places but one of the safest in the area.
And let me tell you, the safest because on the islands there is no crime and a beautiful spot to stay, Miss Karen got an idea that few people had and is working out so good, that´s why you got such a beautiful time in Nicaragua.
they do not sell any local art or anything and is good you mentioning this
We enjoyed our travels in Nicaragua - especially San Juan del Oriente with the ceramic arts and Ometepe Island. We relaxed on Ometepe at a guest house on the beach in Santa Cruz - very lovely place wtih helpful hosts so we had great information and help organizing the activities nearby and restaurants. They even helped with taxi drivers on and off the island.
LTSmash has already arrived and we all hope that he/she/they have a really great time.
One of the posts bothered me in this thread, as I live in Costa Rica (travel often to Nicaragua) and we have had a small flood of expats leave, a number of those who miss the good old days before everything became expensive and the Ticos started to realize the value of their time...and began to charge for it. You can still get your yard cleaned in San Jose by a Nicaraguan laborer for $4.00US for the day, or you do the right thing, and offer a living wage, and fair pay for work done. That's respect, the expats call it unnecessary.
So to those who choose to stay at the Hilton and the overpriced lake resorts, with of course a smattering of cute tours (don't forget the air con transfer, things are so much better), to those I say please don't come back unless you want to improve where you leave a footprint or share in the true experience of being Nicaraguan. Imagine drinkable water in town, and by the way, it was a Cold War, a "Revolucion of Spirit", and nothing civil about it. No grays and blues.
Believe me, change is coming, as the government is determined to encourage sustainable tourism, less than a living wage doesn't work, then where will you go?
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