Nicaragua is a great place to discover on your own. This route shows the best of Nicaragua, alternating volcanoes with countryside roads, mountains, islands, colonial towns, dirt road, or Pan-American Highway. Even if most of the roads are in good condition, we recommend using a pick-up vehicle during the whole year. We highly recommend the use of a 4X4 vehicle.
Upon arrival to Managua airport, you will be transferred to your city hotel.
Overnight at the Contempo Boutique Hotel in Managua.
After breakfast, a representative of the rental car company will pick you up at your Hotel for the usual rental car formalities( Daihatsu Terios 4x4 Jeep). Then you will begin with a City Tour of Nicaragua's main City: Managua, where one third of the whole population lives. We recommend you to drive to Loma de Tiscapa, a small volcanic hill where Somoza's presidential house was strategically situated. Today Sandino's black metal silhouette rules over the hill and you can enjoy excellent views on old and new Managua from here. Afterwards you will drive along Lake Managua towards the ruins of Leon Viejo, first capital of Nicaragua which succumbed to the violent eruption of Momotombo volcano and a destructive earthquake. Here you will have the chance to learn about interesting colonial time episodes of this UNESCO site and understand why the first Spanish conquistadors settled Leon Viejo in this ferocious land. Then we recommend you to drive to the Pacific coast and embark for a boat tour into the Reserve of Juan Venado, famous for its mangroves and wildlife. At Las Penitas, on the way back to the cultural town Leon, you might be able admire a beautiful sunset (if weather permits).
Lodging at Hotel El Convento Hotel in León.
After breakfast take the road towards San Jacinto Hot Springs, a unique phenomenon of this volcanic region where internal vents eject hot gasses, water and mud. Afterwards you will drive from the volcanic fertile soils of the Nicaraguan pacific basin to the north central region of Estel, known for its top quality cigars As you drive you will have the chance to pass by tobacco fields and then visit one of the many cigar factories in this area. Here we will learn about the painstaking process of selecting the best tobacco leaves, drying, rolling and packing. Then you will drive back to the highlands of Matagalpa, also known as the coffee hub. After taking your rooms at Selva Negra Lodge, feel free to go for a nature walk into the primary tropical forest to explore the lush vegetation and try to discover the elusive birdlife of the region.
Lodging at the Selva Negra Lodge in Matagalpa.
After breakfast you will start driving back to the Pacific Region and reach Masaya Volcano National Park. Here you will drive up hill and arrive just at the border of crater Santiago and observe the impressive activity of this volcano. At visitor center you can learn about volcanoes and seismology in Central America. Up next to the town of Masaya where you will have the opportunity to get immersed in the daily life of the Nicaraguan people, visiting the popular market of Masaya. Shopping is tremendous here. You can find all traditional handicrafts Nicaragua at very reasonable prices. Before arriving to our hotel in the colonial town of Granada, we recommend stop by the town of Catarina best known for specializing in growing ornamental plants. You will also enjoy the unique view over Apoyo Lagoon and the whole region.
Lodging at the Hotel Grand Francia in Granada.
After our breakfast feel free to start for a walk through the historic center of Granada, the oldest town in America´s mainland, visiting the most important monuments like the Cathedral, San Francisco convent and its Pre-Columbian statue collection, the Merced Church and the famous Casa de Los Leones. In the afternoon, you have the option to drive to the Great Lake Nicaragua and hire a little boat and tour the famous Islands,an archipelago of 350 little islands just offshore Granada. After this refreshing boat tour enjoying also the tropical vegetation and bird life, return to Granada. The night is free at your disposal to enjoy one of the famous bars with the Latino flavour on your own.
Lodging at the Hotel Grand Francia in Granada.
After breakfast, you will drive south on the Pan-American highway, passing by several sugarcane and rice fields, as well as banana plantations, papaya, water melon and passion fruit. Then you will reach the small town of San Jorge where you and your vehicle will aboard the ferry and navigate on great Lake Nicaragua to the volcanic island of Ometepe. After about one hour ferry ride, you will reach Ometepe main town Moyogalpa. From here, you will drive along a unique route, passing several villages. On your way we recommend you to stop by Charco Verde Protected Area , known for its dark green lake, lush surrounding vegetation, birdlife and howler monkeys, here you can make a short hike through the tropical forest. Then you will reach Playa Santo Domingo where you will take your rooms for the coming night. In the afternoon, we recommend continue driving through several banana plantations and traditional villages to Finca El Porvenir located on the flank of Maderas volcano. Here, you can enjoy lunch with view on Lake Nicaragua and the impressive Concepcion volcano forming part of the island. Afterwards, you can start for a walk through the Finca and discover some of the Petro Glyphs testimony of the strong Indio activities in the past. Return to Playa Santo Domingo.
Lodging at San Juan de la Isla in Ometepe
Today you will drive around Concepción Volcano until you reach Moyogalpa, the main town. There, you’ll take the ferry back to the mainland port. From there, you’ll drive back to Managua, where you’ll return the car.
(Approximate driving time: 3 hours and 15 minutes; distance: 165 km or 103 miles).
Lodging at the Contempo Boutique Hotel in Managua.
You’ll be transferred to the airport.
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