Nicaragua Birds, Nature & Culture Holiday

Discover Nicaragua's colonial towns, gorgeous scenery, volcanos, wildlife and abundant bird species

Nicaragua Birds, Nature & Culture Holiday

This suggested Birds, Nature & Culture itinerary has been carefully tailored to showcase the best of Nicaragua and offers a unique journey into a land full of ancestral culture, legendary traditions and rich biodiversity. You will discover splendid historical colonial towns such as Granada, spectacular active volcanoes like Masaya, and natural reserves sheltering a wide range of ecosystems that include thousands of flora and fauna species. Nicaragua’s wildlife list is fascinating and abundant, with 750 species of birds, 150 species of mammals and 300 species of amphibians.

ACTIVITIES

  • Culture

  • Wildlife

  • Caribbean & Latin America Birdwatching

DETAILED ITINERARY

 

Day 1: Arrival at Managua Airport – Hotel in Managua

Arrival at Managua International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Managua. The rest of the day is free to rest and acclimatise after your flight.

Accommodation: Hotel Camino Real**** / or similar

Meals: None. 

Day 2: Granada City tour & Isletas – Granada 

This morning, you will depart from Managua to the city of Granada, the oldest city in the western hemisphere of the Americas. Granada was founded in 1524 by the conquistador Hernández de Cordoba. Once the business and shipping capital for the entire region, today Granada proudly remains one of the last truly colonial cities: an undiscovered jewel. On this first sightseeing tour, you will visit the Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent and its Museum, with its vast collection of pre-Columbian statutes and pottery, the colourful market, the charming cobblestone streets, and numerous architecturally significant churches and monuments.

Following a delicious lunch in the city, you’ll embark on a boat tour of Granada’s famous Isletas, an archipelago of inhabited islands formed by an ancient volcanic explosion, just off the shore of Lake Nicaragua. We will then return to your hotel in Granada.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio El Malinche*** / or similar

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3: Granada – Mombacho – San Juan de Oriente – Catarina – Laguna de Apoyo – Granada

Today you will head to the Mombacho Volcano, known as the guard of the colonial city of Granada. The highest point measures over 1,300 meters and has a unique microclimate for the region, because of its altitude and frequent thick cloud covered forest. This impressive forest is protected and since 1999 part of the Natural Reserves of Nicaragua. The drive will take you from the savannah dry region at the volcano’s base, up through coffee farms, into humid cloud forest conditions. Arriving at the top, the self-guided tour will bring you onto the 2.5 km path with descriptive information panels about the area, the fauna and flora, and the volcanic activities. Along this path you will discover an unusual collection of orchids, ferns, butterflies, birds, and when the weather’s right, you will enjoy fantastic views of Granada and the surrounding countryside.

After this tour, continue to San Juan de Oriente, a municipality famous for its various craft workshops, in which there is an active and diverse production of attractive clay and ceramics pieces. Throughout the town of San Juan de Oriente, workshops can be found offering decorative or practical crafts. After this, we will continue to the charming town of Catarina, where many plant nurseries are found and crowned by its attractive viewpoint, from where we will have an amazing view of the Apoyo Lagoon and Granada city. There are also several artisan shops here, including the Villa de las Artesanía, which brings together a collection of handicrafts shops. We will then continue to Laguna de Apoyo, which is one of the oldest lakes in Nicaragua. It was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago, following a volcanic eruption, whose open cone was gradually filled with water. Today, the lagoon is surrounded by green hills covered with trees. The water is sky blue and its temperature is always ideal for swimming, so you will have the chance to enjoy a nice swim in its clear water. After this, return to Granada city.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio El Malinche*** / or similar

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch 

Day 4: Granada – Volcán Masaya – Chocoyero Natural Walk – Montibelli 

The day will begin by visiting the Masaya Volcano National Park, with the stunning and active Santiago crater. It’s one of the few places in the world where such an active volcano can be observed up close. Then continue to the Chocoyero Nature reserve, which is famous for its large population of “Chocoyos” (green parrots), thousands of which live in the surrounding walls of the mountains. The path through this well-preserved forest will bring you to the impressive waterfalls, Chocoyero and El Brujo. After visiting Chocoyero, continue to Montibelli Reserve, an area that has abundant bird species. Not only can you find woodpeckers, hummingbirds, parrots, vultures, hawks, golden orioles and Motmots, the national bird, and the reserve is also inhabited by an impressive population of trogons. These colourful birds are rare in Nicaragua and Montibelli is one of the few places where you can easily see them.

Accommodation: Montibelli Reserve

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner.

Day 5: Montibelli Walk and Bird Watching 

Today you will enjoy a bird watching tour in the tropical forest of the Montibelli Reserve. You will have the opportunity to observe the very rich birdlife, including woodpeckers, hummingbirds, parrots, vultures, hawks, golden orioles, trogons, and motmots). You can also find mammals, including howler monkeys, reptiles, and many other animals. The rest of the afternoon will be free to enjoy the lodge and surroundings.

Accommodation: Montibelli Reserve

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner.

Day 6: Montibelli Natural History Tour – El Jaguar Natural Reserve 

Today you will have the opportunity to enjoy a Natural History tour along one of the trails of the Reserve. Accompanied by a local naturalist guide, this unforgettable experience combines a walking tour in the forest with observation of the local flora and fauna. From this experience, you will learn all about the sustainable use of the natural resources.

Later, you will leave Montibelli, travelling north to El Jaguar. This is a private, family run farm that produces high quality organic coffee in perfect harmony with the community and the surrounding ecosystem. The giant oak and fern trees within the forest here, provide perfect shelter for a large diversity of plant and animal life, 70 acres of protected cloud forest and 35 acres of managed woods surround the farm. Within these woods can be found rare orchids and giant ferns trees dating back to Jurassic times.

Accommodation: Jaguar Reserve

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner. 

Day 7: El Jaguar Activities, Walk in the Forest and Bird Watching

El Jaguar is located at a height of 1,150 meters above sea level, within a tropical cloud forest that offers its visitors the opportunity to rejuvenate in the cool mountain climate, to observe 290 species of birds (migratory and local) and a great variety of flora and fauna, as well as hiking in its many trails. Today you will enjoy a bird watching tour in this sanctuary, looking for a large number of both migratory and resident birds. Youwill also have the opportunity to explore the reserve while doing the El Jaguar tour with your local guide, when you will walk along the trails, observing the flora and fauna. The rest of the day will be at your disposal to explore the forest and enjoy this natural environment.

Accommodation: Jaguar Reserve

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner. 

Day 8: El Jaguar Reserve – Managua – San Carlos – San Juan River – Refugio Bartola

Leave the nature reserve of El Jaguar, driving to the capital city, from where you will take a local flight to San Carlos located at the exact starting point of the San Juan River in Lake Nicaragua. From here there will be private water transportation to Refugio Bartola, but first you will travel along this amazing river. Today, large areas of this river that connects the great Lake of Nicaragua (or Cocibolca) with the Caribbean Sea are Wildlife Refuges where you can easily see numerous species of tropical flora and fauna. Previously, this area was highly sought after by powerful countries, was attacked and trafficked by pirates and defended by heroes. After your boat ride along the Rio San Juan river, you will reach Refugio Bartola where you will check-in to your room.

Accommodation: Refugio Bartola

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner.

Note: The Local flight from Managua to San Carlos operates on Thursday and Sundays only.  

Day 9: Bartola Walk into the Forest & River Bartola Tour

Today you will have an excursion to the Bartola forest, which will bring you close to the wildlife of Nicaragua, while walking through the jungle near the lodge with a local guide. You will be able to see more than 400 wonderful bird species, as well as some mammals and amphibians. You will also enjoy a river tour in the afternoon, when you will truly appreciate this incredible place, which is perfect for nature lovers.

Accommodation: Refugio Bartola

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner. 

Day 10: Refugio Bartola – Aguas Frescas Tour – Refugio Bartola

You will begin exploring the impressive Indio-Maiz Reserve today, on the Agua Fresca trail. This is an unforgettable tour that brings you in direct contact with nature, as the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve is considered one of the best preserved natural reserves in Nicaragua. It is located in the southeast corner of the country, bordering the San Juan River. This natural reserve is home to a wide variety of jungle animals. Among them are hundreds of species of birds, including toucans, macaws, hummingbirds and parrots. There are also mammals in the area, such as deer, wild boar, puma, jaguar, foxes and even manatees, as well as the three species of monkeys that live in the country (mongoose, white face and spider monkey). You can also find poison dart frogs, snakes, crocodiles, turtles and iguanas.

Accommodation: Refugio Bartola

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner.

Day 11: Bartola – El Castillo – San Carlos – Island Bird – Solentiname 

Today you will depart by private boat from Bartola to the town of El Castillo, which is located on the banks of the San Juan River, at the height of the El Diablo rapids. In the town stands the Castle of the Immaculate Conception, built by the Spaniards between 1673 and 1675 to prevent the incursions of pirates who went up the San Juan River to access Lake Cocibolca and from there attack the city of Granada. After the visit to El Castillo you will take public water transportation to San Carlos where you will make a stop, changing to private water transportation and continuing to Bird Island, located in the archipelago of Solentiname. This unique archipelago is a group of 36 islands and islets of various sizes covered by tropical vegetation and hosting many bird species. The main islands, due to their size and number of inhabitants, are the islands of Mancarrón, Mancarroncito, “San Fernando” and “La Venada”. On Bird Island, you will observe thousands of birds of different species, both resident and migratory (herons, pink spatulas, Cormorants etc). Later, you will arrive at your lodge, located on San Fernando Island in Solentiname.

Accommodation: Hotel Cabañas Paraiso** (*) / or similar

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and Dinner.

Day 12: Solentiname – San Carlos – Managua

Continue by private water transportation to San Carlos, where your private land transport will pick you up and take you directly to your hotel in Managua.

Accommodation: Hotel Camino Real**** / or similar

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 13: Managua – Managua International Airport

Today you will have your private transport to the international Airport in Managua for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast. 

Day 14: Arrive home