Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua
14 & 19 days
Central America’s magnificent cerulean seas, lush forests, ancient Maya ruins, and fiery volcanoes combine to create a genuinely awe-inspiring tropical paradise. Explore Mayan history at impressive archaeological ruins and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan World, with expert-guided tours.
El Salvador is a small but mighty travel destination that entices adventure seekers looking to escape the typical Central American tourist circuit. Nicaragua is a hidden gem brimming with natural beauty waiting for travelers. The country’s lush jungles are teeming with an incredible diversity of plant and animal life, making it an ideal destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
Mayan Ruins, Guatemala
Suchitoto, El Salvador
Colonial town, Nicaragua
Experience the wonders of Mayan culture by taking a boat trip across the breathtaking Lake Atitlan. Enjoy Antigua Guatemala’s impressive architecture, picture-perfect venues, local cuisine, volcano views, and dreamy weather while strolling on its colorful cobblestone streets. While walking through Tikal’s causeways, you’ll marvel at the towering temples rising steeply into the jungle surroundings. Explore Suchitoto’s rich history and breathtaking views of Lake Suchitlan. Leon and Granada provide a distinctive combination of historical significance, cultural richness, and stunning natural scenery.
Upon your arrival at Guatemala City International Airport (GUA), a representative will greet you and provide transportation to Panajachel, located on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is renowned for its stunning volcanoes, Mayan culture, and natural beauty, making it one of the world’s most awe-inspiring destinations.
The majestic Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro volcanoes provide a stunning backdrop for the lake. The surrounding villages are home to the vibrant Maya culture, where traditional dresses are still worn.
The Western Highlands is home to colorful and charming mountain towns, lakes, forests, and most of the Mayan indigenous inhabitants of Guatemala. This district is the area most tourists who are aware of Guatemala think about when daydreaming of a tour of this magnificent country.
Two nights in Lake Atitlan.
Today, you will embark on a boat tour of Lake Atitlan, where you can witness its surrounding villages’ vibrant colors and rich local culture. You will explore the most stunning lake in Latin America, recognized as one of the world’s natural wonders. During the tour, you will be amazed by the breathtaking views of its three volcanoes and learn about the fascinating Mayan culture that still thrives in the area.
During the tour, you will have the opportunity to visit several indigenous towns situated on the shores of the lake. This is a fantastic way to experience the beauty and diversity of the Maya living culture. As part of the tour, you will be visiting the following Maya villages:
1. The Painted town of Santa Catarina Palopo.
In later years, the cooperative Painting Change began painting the village houses with brilliant colors and long-established Maya drawings as preferred by the families of each home. Today, the town pops with life. Maya art has acted as a tool for positive change. All from the brilliant colors, the women – with their lively purple and blue traditional dresses – and the community, everything contributes to the charisma of this village.
2. San Juan La Laguna.
This town has an exceptional atmosphere, where Maya art cooperatives and handicraft shops outnumber cafes and pubs. Moreover, it boasts stunning views of the lake, steep mountains, and towering volcanoes.
San Juan is the predominant heart for unique Mayan art, handicrafts, and weaving. Several collectives provide opportunities for women to earn a living through these programs. San Juan is also surrounded by coffee plantations, making it one of the best places to enjoy a cup of the finest organic coffee in the world. During your visit to San Juan, your guide will take you to a coffee farm, where you can learn all about Guatemalan coffee production and taste some of the world’s best coffee.
3. Santiago Atitlan
Santiago Atitlan is in a bay between two imposing volcanoes, surrounded by forest-covered mountains. Everywhere you turn in this town, you will see a volcano. The indigenous inhabitants of Santiago go about their daily lives, and it is hard not to notice how they all wear their traditional clothes, including men. The inhabitants are friendly, and you will see them smiling contagiously at each other. Explore this place’s natural beauty and traditional culture and learn more about the indigenous way of life.
You will fall so much in love with Lake Atitlan that you will never want to travel anywhere else.
Today, you have two activity options to choose from. The first is a hike to the Mayan Face mountain, which offers an exhilarating outdoor adventure opportunity for those who enjoy hiking. The second option is the Maya market and cooking class, which are excellent alternatives for those not interested in hiking. When it comes to hiking up this mountain, you have two options to choose from.
Sunrise hike: Join us for a sunrise hike, where we’ll take a boat to San Clara and then hike for about an hour to reach the summit. The breathtaking sunrise and stunning views are worth the early wake-up call at 4 a.m.
Regular hike: During this hike, you can view the volcanoes, mountains, and surrounding villages. This option is perfect if you enjoy hiking and are okay with a good workout. The mountain’s summit is over 2,200 meters (7,217 feet) above sea level, which makes it a challenging climb. The hike lasts approximately 3 hours and takes you to the summit.
Local market and cooking class: If hiking isn’t your thing, don’t worry. We have an excellent alternative: join a cooking class taught by a local Mayan cook and learn how to prepare authentic Guatemalan food.
We start with a small excursion to the local market to purchase ingredients and to talk to local vendors. Later, we go to a cozy kitchen terrace overlooking the lake. After the class, we will have lunch together. After that, we will visit a women’s weaving cooperative just below the kitchen.
Today, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a comprehensive city tour of Antigua Guatemala. During this tour, you will explore the UNESCO-recognized ruins, plazas, churches, museums, and many other exciting places that tourists often overlook. It’s a great way to get to know the city and its rich history and culture.
During this guided tour, you will have the chance to explore the charming Antigua Guatemala, the most beautiful colonial city in the Americas. You will visit the central plaza, adorned with jacaranda trees, and wander through the cobblestone streets of brightly colored colonial buildings. Additionally, you’ll see some 16th-century ruins that are truly breathtaking. The majestic backdrop of the triple ascent of the volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango further enhances the city’s beauty.
Later, you will attend a mini-chocolate workshop to learn to make chocolates according to your preferences. You will receive a brief and straightforward explanation of the chocolate-making process. You can make chocolate with dark chocolate or milk and add various condiments. Finally, you will leave the workshop with your handmade chocolates.
Two nights in Antigua Guatemala.
Volcano Pacaya offers a unique adventure that you will enjoy. Hike the volcano, see stony ashes and dried lava, walk through lush forests, and witness red-hot flowing lava. Depending on the volcano’s activity, you may even have the chance to witness small eruptions and flowing lava firsthand.
After descending from the volcano, enjoy lunch and relax in the 12 soaking pools, 25 steam baths, and three Kawilal Hot Springs hydrotherapy baths.
If you’re not interested in hiking, we can take you on an excursion to explore the nearby colonial towns instead. These towns and plantations around Antigua Guatemala are fascinating. This excursion will give you a deeper comprehension of the region’s history, economy, and culture.
The first stop is San Juan del Obispo, where you will visit the monastery of Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala’s first bishop. The upcoming town on the route is Ciudad Vieja, once Guatemala’s second colonial capital. However, in 1541, it was destroyed by the mudflows of Volcano de Agua, resulting in a tragic history.
Next, the Valhalla Macadamia Organic Farm awaits, where you can discover the crucial role in promoting sustainable agriculture. The macadamia nut farm cultivates and harvests these amazing nuts and uses them to create natural products that promote healthy skin. Visitors can enjoy a wholesome meal and unwind with a soothing facial massage using macadamia oil.
Discover the local cooperative market located in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The market is renowned for its beautiful handicrafts, which you can appreciate and even purchase. To wrap up the tour, you will visit a jade factory where you can learn about jade’s historical and contemporary uses.
The journey begins with a flight from Guatemala City to Flores Island. Upon arrival at Flores, a local guide will escort you to the secluded Mayan ruins of Yaxha, Guatemala’s third largest Mayan site. Despite its significance, Yaxha is relatively less crowded due to its limited space, making it an ideal location for visitors who wish to explore the area without the presence of other tourists.
One of the most remarkable things about Yaxha is its proximity to a lagoon, which provides breathtaking views. The site’s name, Yaxha, meaning ‘Green Water,’ is derived from the lagoon. You can climb to the top of Pyramid 216, the tallest structure on the site, and enjoy stunning vistas of the ancient ruins, the lush jungle canopy, and the lagoon.
Later, when we return to Flores Island, we can take a sunset boat tour on Lake Peten, weather permitting. We will visit the Mayan site of Tayazal, situated on a peninsula on the lake. You can enjoy stunning views of the lake and the island from the top of the pyramids.
Two nights on Flores Island.
Today, you will have an expedition to the magic Mayan City of Tikal. Experience these must-see ruins. A captivating introduction to the monumental jungle temples, this expedition treats you to an archaeology guide and countless wildlife viewing chances.
You will visit the magnificent temples that tower over the dense jungle, and your guide will teach you about the city’s role as a vital scientific, political, and religious hub for 1,500 years. The jungle canopy surrounding the site is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including spider and howler monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots, jaguars, and many others.
The cacophony of birds and monkeys surrounds the path through the jungle. It leads to a spectacular view of the massive Mayan ruins, which are almost a millennium old. Hike through the jungle to reach the highest temple and witness an incredible sight: an overwhelming sea of trees, with the tips of the Mayan temples of Tikal jutting out like rock boats.
A driver will take you to the Airport Mundo Maya (FRS) for your flight to El Salvador. Another driver will be waiting for you for the transfer from El Salvador International Airport (SAL) to Suchitoto.
Two nights in Suchitoto.
Suchitoto is renowned for its cobblestone streets and picturesque view of Lake Suchitlan. During a city tour, you’ll learn about the local history and culture against the stunning backdrop of the Guazapa volcano. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Suchitlan, Suchitoto is one of the most charming towns in El Salvador, boasting a blend of ancient cobblestones and well-preserved colonial architecture.
Discover the lively cultural center of El Salvador. Appreciate the historic center’s colonial buildings and cobbled streets; see the brilliant white Santa Lucia Church; and visit art galleries, handicraft shops, and markets.
We’ll visit the Los Tercios waterfall later. The waterfall may be less impressive during the dry season. However, the unique rock formations and the hike are still fascinating enough to make the trip worthwhile. To reach the ten-meter waterfall, visitors must trek through crumbling rock formations, which adds an exciting element of adventure to the experience. Additionally, guests can enjoy the breathtaking view of Lake Suchitlan from the top.
Today, you will be leaving El Salvador. Our driver will take you to the international airport for your flight to Managua, Nicaragua. Once you arrive, another driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in Leon – the second-largest city in Nicaragua. Leon is famous for its many historic Spanish colonial houses and churches.
One night in Leon.
Leon is the intellectual hub of the country. Your guide will take you to the city’s most beautiful places. These include the cathedral, the murals of the revolution, Museum Ruben Dario, and Gallery Ortiz. The collection at Gallery Ortiz features work from European masters, such as Picasso and Chagall, and a stunning array of Latin American art.
During your tour, you will visit the Basilica de la Asuncion, the largest cathedral in Central America. You will also discover the cathedral’s mysterious secrets and climb to its roof to enjoy a scenic view of the city. You can hike around Leon Central Plaza and explore the nearby buildings. Later, you will visit the Ruins of Leon Viejo, the city’s original location and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you will learn about the history and conflicts between the conquerors and the native population. Additionally, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the Momotombo volcano rising on the banks of Lake Xolotlan.
Afterward, you’ll drive to the colonial city of Granada.
Three nights in Granada.
Today, you will drive to San Jorge to catch the ferry to Ometepe Island. This island is the largest freshwater island in the world, and it features two majestic volcanoes connected through a short strip of land. Ometepe Island is a popular destination among local and international travelers, thanks to its stunning landscapes, volcanoes, rich archaeological history, and relaxing beaches.
During your tour, you will visit the following places:
– Ojo de Agua: This natural spring is known for its cold, crystal-clear waters that have rejuvenating properties for your skin. This farm has rustic facilities like pools, hiking trails, and thatch-roof huts.
– Charco Verde: This ecological reserve covers 20 hectares of tropical forest and is home to many animal species. The lagoon of Charco Verde is famous for its emerald-green waters. You can enjoy the peaceful surroundings of this unspoiled woodland area.
– Santo Domingo Beach: This 4-kilometer-long beach features grey sand, and the warm and shallow waters of the lake make it ideal for bathing and swimming. Relax in the constant onshore breeze or walk along the beach, framed by forest.
At the end of the tour, we will take the ferry back to San Jorge and drive to Granada.
Granada has cultural and historical significance, which has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The city boasts exquisite beauty, with palm trees rising between red-tiled roofs amidst volcanoes and lake shores.
The city’s natural beauty has inspired poets, artists, and writers. The locals’ laid-back air and happy disposition make it one of the most relaxed cities in Central America, where culture and nature blend seamlessly.
Granada is a city that stands out for its distinctive charm, which is showcased by its colonial architecture, use of horse-drawn carriages, and friendly locals. The city has a rich history dating back to the Spanish conquistadors. The churches of San Francisco, La Merced, and the neoclassical cathedral are must-visits. During your city tour through colonial Granada, you’ll visit an ancient fortress and a cemetery with over 400-year-old tombs to experience the city’s rich history.
This adventure concludes with a transfer to Managua International Airport (MGA) for your departure.
Upon your arrival at Guatemala City International Airport (GUA), a designated representative will be present to welcome and escort you to your hotel. You will be provided transportation to your hotel, ensuring a smooth and comfortable transition from the airport to your accommodation.
Overnight in Guatemala City.
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Lake Atitlan. The breathtaking turquoise lake, nestled amidst majestic volcanoes and vibrant towns, is an awe-inspiring destination.
As we set out to explore Santa Catarina Palopo, also known as the Blue Town, we are welcomed by a sea of brightly painted blue buildings adorned with geometric patterns.
The town’s enchanting ambiance can be attributed to the dedicated efforts of Pintando el Cambio. This non-profit organization painted over 850 buildings and homes with nuanced shades of blue, purple, and green. The organization’s meticulous approach has breathed new life into the town’s architecture and has effectively enhanced its aesthetic appeal. Their extensive work has undoubtedly contributed to the town’s sustained growth as a popular tourist destination.
As we stroll through the town, we see local women creating beautiful textiles on traditional backstrap looms dressed in rich purple headdresses. The intricate geometric patterns that adorn the buildings are a testament to the skill and dedication of the town’s artists.
Two nights in Lake Atitlan.
Start your day with an unforgettable village tour to experience the magic of Lake Atitlan. Discover the hidden gems known only to the locals and immerse yourself in the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Discovering the small Maya villages scattered along the shores provides a unique opportunity for cultural immersion, and one may gain insight into the art, history, and customs of Guatemala’s Indigenous communities.
The shores of Atitlan are home to several Indigenous Maya villages, which you can explore during a private boat tour. Each stop offers the chance to discover the local markets, shops, and cafes, where you can learn about the Maya culture and traditions firsthand from the locals.
During the tour, we will visit Santiago Atitlan, a renowned destination for its artisanal crafts. The town is also home to the Weaving Center and Museum of Cojolya, which the Maya Women Weavers Association of Cojolya established.
Our next stop will be at San Juan La Laguna, an indigenous community on the lake’s western shore. Here, you will experience a vibrant and colorful town. The weaving cooperatives run by women are the main attraction, selling traditional textiles and artwork that make excellent souvenirs. San Juan La Laguna is a small, authentic Guatemalan community that tourists often overlook.
Finally, we will visit San Marcos La Laguna, one of the prettiest villages on the lake. The community mainly consists of Maya people, who occupy the higher ground. Ex-pats and visitors, on the other hand, occupy a flat jungly patch towards the shoreline. The town boasts one of the best views of the lake’s volcanoes and several excellent restaurants and coffee shops.
The Iximche Mayan ruins in Guatemala represent a significant ceremonial and political center that flourished during the late Postclassic period of Mayan civilization. This site, discovered in the 16th century and later partially restored, offers a glimpse into the ancient Mayan people’s intricate cultural and political systems. You can explore the site’s numerous temples, ball courts, and plazas, which reflect the Mayans’ sophisticated architectural and artistic skills. A visit to Iximche is a unique opportunity to experience this fascinating civilization’s rich history and cultural heritage.
The palaces and temples are modest in scale but nestled in a serene, park-like environment, providing a tranquil atmosphere for exploration and discovery. After the ruins, we’ll drive to Antigua Guatemala.
Nestled near the vibrant former capital of Guatemala, Antigua Guatemala is a haven for travelers seeking a truly inspiring experience. With its selection of colonial, boutique, and luxury hotels, guests can indulge in first-rate amenities and immerse themselves in a captivating environment that will leave them feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Two nights in Antigua Guatemala.
We’ll start the day with a taste of the best coffee in the world at a local plantation. During your visit, you will learn about the entire coffee-making process, from the seed to the cup. After enjoying a delicious hot cup of this local drink, we will take a walking tour of Antigua Guatemala. We’ll visit the city’s lookout point, which offers a breathtaking view of the city and the neighboring volcanoes and mountains.
You’ll immerse yourself in this captivating Central American city’s rich history and vibrant culture. With its stunning Baroque architecture and bustling textile scene, it’s no wonder it remains a top destination. Wander the picturesque cobbled streets, taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes, and treat yourself to an array of modern delights, from farm-fresh cuisine to contemporary art and design.
Antigua Guatemala, a city with a rich architectural heritage, has become one of the most alluring destinations in Latin America. The city boasts a Baroque architectural style characterized by decorative stucco ornamentation and low bell towers designed to withstand earthquakes.
Antigua is also renowned for its vibrantly patterned traditional textiles, made using natural dyeing techniques. These textiles are sold at workshops and bustling open-air markets, contributing to the city’s cultural diversity and charm. The towering volcanoes, which challenging day hikes can access, offer a breathtaking panoramic vista of the surroundings.
Antigua embodies the essence of history, culture, and natural beauty. It is an ideal destination for those seeking to explore and immerse themselves in Guatemala’s rich cultural heritage. With a booming coffee scene and a plethora of boutique hotels, Antigua is an inspiring destination that captivates the hearts of its visitors.
Early in the morning, we will drive for an hour to Guatemala City’s airport (GUA) to catch a domestic flight that will take us to Flores Island. Once we arrive, we’ll go to the Mayan ruins of Yaxha.
Guatemala is home to thousands of archeological Mayan ruins, and there are over 60,000 hidden structures that experts have yet to discover. Despite their deep location within the jungle, these ruins offer a glimpse into an incredible civilization that existed long ago.
Yaxha National Park is an example of these hidden ruins, which played a significant role in Mayan civilization. The park boasts three astonishing archeological complexes to explore: Yaxha, El Naranjo, and Nakum. Yaxha, located between two stunning lagoons – Yaxha and Sacnab- provides a breathtaking view of its towering pyramids, well-preserved buildings, and the lush jungle surrounding it.
Two nights on Tikal.
Embrace the magic of the jungle as you start your day before the sunrise. With your guide, you’ll journey through the lush greenery to reach Temple IV, the highest in Tikal. From this stunning viewpoint, the sun will rise over the Mayan ruins, casting a golden glow over the ancient temples. As you explore the vast ruins of Tikal, the sounds of the jungle will engulf you, igniting a sense of wonder and inspiration within you.
The Jungle Lodge is situated just a three-minute walk from the Tikal entrance. You will trek through the dark jungle canopy with only flashlights or headlamps to light your way. Apart from an occasional speech from our guide, the jungle surroundings will be serene and pitch-dark. You can switch off your headlamps and gaze up at the sky, adorned with numerous stars. On a clear night, it’s hard to match the number of stars you’ll see here.
After the sunrise tour, you will return to your jungle lodge for breakfast and a break. Afterward, you can continue exploring the incredible Mayan city.
We will set off on a five-hour drive to Rio Dulce. Once we arrive, we will embark on a boat excursion that will take us through the river to Livingston. The distance from Rio Dulce to Livingston is roughly 32 kilometers. Along the way, you will pass through a conservation area that boasts rainforests and diverse species. The journey from Rio Dulce to Livingston on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast will take about an hour.
As you embark on this journey, be prepared to witness the stunning Castle of San Felipe de Lara and the vibrant bird islands, bustling with life and eco-friendly communities.
As you approach Livingston, a breathtaking sight awaits you as the river gradually narrows. The final stretch to the Caribbean Ocean has long, steep rock walls enveloped in lush tropical vegetation. The boat ride is an incredible experience, with towering limestone walls up to 100 meters high and the canyon walls draped in tropical jungle. Upon reaching Livingston Harbor, many pelicans who had made their homes in the abandoned boats will greet you.
Livingston is a town that remains disconnected from the rest of the country due to the absence of connecting roads. Despite this, the town’s rich history, enigmatic location, Garifuna culture, and delectable cuisine render it an enticing destination for visitors. With its captivating past, Livingston offers an opportunity for travelers to explore a unique culture steeped in tradition and charm. Furthermore, the town’s remote location and lack of connectivity provide a sanctuary for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Livingston’s attraction is the town’s unique cultural heritage, off-beat Caribbean vibe, and proximity to some of the most scenic and evocative destinations. Your hotel is in front of the Caribbean.
One night in Livingston.
Today, you will experience the beautiful boat ride again, this time from Livingston to Rio Dulce. After that, we will visit the Mayan ruins of Quirigua and drive to Copan, Honduras.
Quirigua, a remarkable archaeological site from the Classic Maya period, is an awe-inspiring testament to the creative genius of our ancestors. Nestled near the Motagua River in Guatemala, this once-thriving city was a hub of trade for jade and obsidian. Today, the magnificent pyramids, stairways, and terraces that still stand and the intricately carved sandstone stelae that adorn this sacred site inspire awe and wonder. The tallest Maya stela, a remarkable feat of artistry and engineering, was found here. Quirigua’s cultural significance is undeniable, and its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List is a testament to its enduring legacy.
Two nights in Copan.
Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring world of the ancient Mayan civilization as you explore the Mayan Ruins of Copan. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, nestled in the stunning landscape of western Honduras, is a testament to the unparalleled artistic expression of the Maya people, who left behind a legacy that continues to inspire and captivate us today.
Experience the grandeur of Copan through its remarkable monuments. The towering 20m-high Hieroglyphic Stairway brings to life the stories of the city’s rulers and the significant events during their reigns through over 2000 glyphs. The Ball Court, a well-preserved court from that era, is a testament to the past, displaying ornamental grandeur and prominence. The Great Plaza, once a hub of social gatherings, remains a source of inspiration, with its 15 stelae representing the kings who ruled over Copan.
Later, you can take your time to wander around Copan, a delightful hillside town with enchanting cobblestone streets, welcoming locals, and exceptional coffee shops and restaurants.
Today’s itinerary includes traveling to Suchitoto, a picturesque colonial town atop a hill boasting a magnificent view of Lake Suchitlan. This place is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and architectural marvels showcasing the town’s history. After the drive from Copan, you will have free time to explore the town independently.
Three nights in Suchitoto.
Today, you’ll enjoy a boat tour of Lake Suchitlan and a city tour of Suchitoto. You can choose between three options to make the most of your day:
A. Birding boat tour from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, followed by a city tour after breakfast.
B. Boat tour that includes the history of the lake starting at 11:00 am, followed by a city tour of Suchitoto.
C. The city tour starts at 9:00 am, and the birding sunset boat tour departs at 4:45 pm.
We will drive 1.5 hours away to Joya de Ceren, El Salvador’s only UNESCO World Heritage site, which is a good compliment after visiting Mayan sites in Guatemala and Honduras. Joya de Ceren is an exceptional archaeological site, often called the ‘Pompei of the Americas’ for its unique features. A volcanic eruption of the nearby Caldera Volcano buried the site around 590 AD and has been remarkably well-preserved since then.
Unlike other Mayan ruins, Joya de Ceren is a farming settlement offering a rare glimpse into the daily lives of the Mayan people. This characteristic makes it an invaluable discovery for scholars in archaeology and history. The discovery of Joya de Ceren provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the daily routines and habits of the Mayan people. The village is a farming settlement, not a ceremonial site, highlighting its uniqueness.
Subsequently, we shall relish our midday meal while admiring the picturesque vista of Lake Coatepeque, protected by a collapsed volcano crater. The most striking feature of the lake lies in its breathtaking hues, which transition from deep, vibrant blues to bright turquoise, varying with the day’s progression.
We plan to embark on an afternoon 45-minute hike to Cerro Verde. On days with clear weather conditions, this elevated vantage point offers breathtaking views of the two other volcanoes, Izalco and Santa Ana, and the lake. Following our hike, we will indulge in some excellent coffee and dessert before returning to Suchitoto.
Today, a designated driver will transport you to the International Airport of El Salvador (SAL) to board your flight to Nicaragua (not included in the price). Upon your arrival at the destination airport, the International Airport of Managua (MGA), a driver will be present at the exit doors to escort you to the esteemed colonial city of Leon, located in the northern reaches of Nicaragua. You will have the remainder of the day to rest and explore the city of Leon at your leisure.
Two nights in Leon.
In the morning, embark on an informative city tour of Leon, taking you to several notable locations. During this tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the roofs of the cathedral – a UNESCO heritage site – the Ortiz-Gurdian Arts Museum, the churches of La Recoleccion and El Calvario, the church square located in the indigenous Subtiava neighborhood, and the local market. After the tour, you’ll have lunch in the city before returning to your hotel for rest.
At 3 pm, we will depart for Cerro Negro by 4×4. From the entrance, we will climb 350 meters on foot to reach the top. The climb takes about an hour, during which we can admire some solfatars and the spectacular 360° view around the volcano and the whole volcanic mountain range of Los Maribios. Finally, we will witness the sunset on the plain of the Pacific.
To descend from the volcano, we can either jump or walk in a gigantic flow of loose, soft, and deep ashes that cushion our feet like snow, creating a jocular sensation that we will never forget.
After the descent, we will have dinner consisting of a typical ‘caballo bayo‘ in the colonial center of Leon, followed by our second night in Leon.
Our departure for the lost city of Leon Viejo, an esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site near Lake Xolotlan, is scheduled for the early hours. This ancient city had been lost for centuries, with its location only being rediscovered twice, first in 1931 and later in 1967. Since then, identifying buildings, tombs of bishops and conquerors, plazas, and remnants of walls has proven vital in illustrating and locating significant events in Nicaraguan history.
To continue this eventful day, we will drive to the port of San Jorge, where we may board a ferry to Ometepe Island, home to two awe-inspiring volcanoes – Concepcion and Maderas. These natural wonders are a significant attraction for tourists and researchers alike, as they offer unique opportunities to study volcanic activity and geology. The island’s topography, characterized by the two towering peaks, has also significantly shaped the local culture and economy.
We will be at a community of women who have organized a sustainable community tourism project called ‘village-hotel.‘ We will share dinner and spend the night with a family in their home. It will be a unique experience, providing us with a glimpse of the daily lives of the local community.
We will stay in rural housing that boasts tiled roofs, thoughtfully hosted by local families in the charming village of La Paloma. This clustered, rural settlement is located near Moyogalpa. It features small, lightly wooded gardens that evoke a sense of tranquility and peacefulness.
Our hosts will give us an overview of their sustainable projects and activities. Following this, we will participate in a practical cooking workshop, where we will prepare our dinner locally. To conclude the evening, we will have the pleasure of tasting a Jamaican wine produced by the community.
Note: today, all meals are included.
Overnight in Ometepe with a host family.
Our first destination today is the Magdalena coffee farm, where we will venture onto a trail adorned with pre-Columbian petroglyphs of an enigmatic and artistic nature. These petroglyphs are engraved on basalt blocks scattered among coffee and banana plantations.
After exploring the trail, we will proceed to our next destination, Ojo de Agua, where we will enjoy lunch. This location is renowned for its natural spring of pure volcanic waters, where guests can indulge in a refreshing dip.
Subsequently, we will leave the island, take the ferry, and drive to the Masaya Volcano National Park. Here, we will ascend to the highest crater of the volcano to behold a splendid view of the volcanic complex as the sun sets behind the column of gases emanating from the crater. As night falls, we will descend to the active crater’s rim to witness a mesmerizing lava lake-like fountain with perpetually boiling waves.
Overnight in Granada.
You’ll have a city tour of Granada, starting with a visit to the traditional fruit and spice market within the vibrant and bustling colonial center. A climb up the bell tower of La Merced church affords us a panoramic view of the city. We then stop at Café de la Sonrisa, enjoying a refreshing fruit smoothie.
The itinerary includes lunch at a restaurant and an afternoon of leisure to explore the city until 4 pm. Subsequently, we will embark on a boat ride to visit the Isletas de Granada, an archipelago comprising more than 300 little islands that boast a serene paradise of water and jungle. This excursion concludes with the sunset behind the neighboring volcano.
Meals included: breakfast and lunch
Overnight in Granada
Sadly, our remarkable journey across Central America concludes today. A chauffeur will transport you to the Managua International Airport (MGA) for your scheduled flight back to your place of origin.
map, expenses & price
Central America Trip
-Professional certified guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
Copan Ruinas is one of Central America’s most impressive Mayan ruins. The mesmerizing temples, intricate carvings, and ancient ruins nestled deep within the verdant jungle. And as you gaze upon this magnificent spectacle, you may be fortunate enough to witness the vibrant parrots soaring amidst the lush tree canopies. The Copan Ruinas archaeological site stands proudly next to a modern and charming town of the same name, inspiring awe and wonder in visitors worldwide. Despite not having the grandeur of Tikal’s architecture, this city has left us with remarkable sculptures and hieroglyphics that continue to inspire us today.
La Ruta de Las Flores (The Flower Route) winds through the breathtaking Apaneca mountain range, which is not only the largest coffee-growing region in El Salvador but also a place of natural beauty. This journey takes you through small mountain towns surrounded by volcanoes, coffee plantations, and nature. Experience the locals’ traditions, culture, food, and customs. Ataco is a true embodiment of vibrancy and colorfulness. Its stunning cobblestone streets, diverse shops and galleries, and beautiful murals testify to the town’s rich cultural heritage. Juayua is known for its weekend food festival, a must-visit for every food lover.