Wildlife and Nature in Nicaragua
Go through immaculate lush forests, discover awesome volcanoes, and float down peaceful waterways, getting a unique glimpse into the wilderness of Nicaragua. Throughout your journey, get close and intimate with the exotic animal life of Nicaragua.
Finding singular types of birds and monkeys, as well as more species including manatee, tapir, jaguar, and cayman. See the colonial city of Granada, Solentiname, and Castillo (The Castle) as you discover the many angles of the particular landscape of Nicaragua.
Masaya National Park
Little islands, Lake Nicaragua
Go on various hikes throughout the territory to see wildlife. Enjoy astonishing views as you hike to the peak of Mombacho Volcano. Explore with your guide the charming colonial city of Granada. Discover the Indio Maiz Reserve home to the exclusive tropical wetlands.
Day 1. Arrival
Upon your arrival in Managua, meet with your guide and driver from the airport to Montibelli Private Nature Reserve, which is located only 30 minutes from Managua. The nature reserve is made up of approximately 400 acres of lush dry forest in the highlands of the mountains of Managua. Montibelli has a variety of rare animal and plant life, offering travelers an up-close vantage point from which to appreciate this mountainous landscape.
The recently-remodeled lodge is situated on the reserve. Tropical vegetables and fruits are cultivated onsite and used to make mouth-watering trustworthy fare at the lodge restaurant. The facilities are great for bird watching, boasting a multitude of bright species including hummingbirds, golden orioles, parrots, and the National bird of Nicaragua, the motmot. It is also one of the only places in the country where rare trogons can be seen.
Go on an afternoon nature walk around the lodge and then enjoy the evening in this peaceful, natural landscape after your long trip.
Day 2. Montibelli and Chocoyero
Get up early for a bird-watching tour around the lodge and come back for breakfast. After breakfast go to the farm on the onsite plantations where an array of produce is sustainably planted.
After animating an appetite touring the Montibelli, eat some fruits of the plantations for lunch before going to the road to Chocoyero Reserve, an area overflowing with wildlife and tropical vegetation. Various trails wind around the reserve, allowing you to spot howler and white-face monkeys as well as a host of colorful birds. The reserve is well known for its green parakeets, chocoyos, that nest along the side of waterfalls and entertain travelers with their daily activities.
After this activity, drive to Granada, check into your hotel and have the rest of the evening free to have dinner and relax.
Day 3. Masaya Volcano and Granada
Go on a city tour of colonial Granada. Granada is treated as a historic and cultural monument. The activity takes you through the charming streets of Granada, boasting its beautiful churches, homes, and patios. See La Merced, an impressive baroque cathedral that offers fascinating views of the city from its towering rooftop, and the famed convent of San Francisco, with its astonishing, epochal blue facade.
After discovering Granada on foot, go on a relaxing boat trip on Lake Nicaragua. The boat tour lasts approximately an hour, wandering around little islands formed by the many volcanoes of the area. Rest and take the breathtaking lake-scape from this awesome vantage point. Eat lunch in Granada before driving half an hour to the first national park in Nicaragua. Settled in 1979, Masaya National Park is named for the charming Masaya volcano. At the environmental informative center, learn about the history of the volcano as well as the flora and fauna of the neighboring refuge of wildlife.
Go on with your guided drive up to the peak of Masaya, where you can explore the crater of Santiago. Learn about the volcanic patterns, the acclaimed Aratinga Strenua, a bird that makes its home in the toxic walls of the crater, as well as the history of the Spanish travelers and local inhabitants of the area. After the volcano adventure, drive 15 minutes to visit the Masaya market of crafts and arts which has locally-made hammocks, ceramics, and wood and leather products. Return to Granada and enjoy the rest of the evening on your own.
Day 4. Mombacho Volcano
Today you will have a tour of the monumental Mombacho volcano. The tour starts with a 45-minute drive up the slopes of nearby Mombacho. The neighboring cloud forest is full of tropical vegetation that has grown since the volcano was last active. At the foot of the volcano meet with park keepers and switch vehicles for the ascent to the peak. Along the way, you will have astonishing views and learn about the biodiversity of the region. Upon reaching the peak, get ready for a gentle hike along the trails of the volcano.
All over the hike learn about the wildlife of Mombacho, geothermal history, and ancient inhabitants. If the day is clear, the hike offers incredible views of the plain Pacific region, surrounding Granada, as well as dazzling Lake Nicaragua. The hike takes approximately two hours, after which you will be driven back down the mountains and have a traditional Nicaraguan lunch at the Mombacho Nature Reserve. The remainder of the day is free to wander through delightful Granada.
Day 5. Solentiname Archipelago
Take a private transfer to San Carlos (about 5 hours). Here you will meet with your local guide, taxi to the pier, and take a boat transfer to the exquisite Solentiname Archipelago (about 1.5 hours).
After having dinner and settling into your hotel, go on a tour of the main island of Solentiname. Absorb the gorgeous surroundings as you explore the artist workshops and the local museum. The island is acclaimed for its School Primitivista de Solentiname, a painting school settled in the 70s by a group of local fishermen. The art made by this modest school is known and applauded all through the world.
Day 6. Research Center
This morning you will go toward The Castle, making a stop on the southern shores of Lake Nicaragua for a visit to the captivating Los Guatuzos Research Center. The reserve has affluent wildlife, hosting many species of unusual birds, monkeys, iguanas, sloths, amongst other rainforest-dwellers. The tour will take you approximately 5 miles inland on the river of Papaturro to observe the banks from the boat and then get out and discover the rainforest shortly on foot.
After this excursion, continue to The Castle along river San Juan, making a stop to have lunch and transfer boats in San Carlos. This part of the expedition is historically referred to as the Gold Route as it was an essential thoroughfare for fortune-hunters in the gold rush in Central America of the 1850s. Upon arrival in The Castle, settle into your hotel and get ready for the adventures of the evening.
This evening your local guide will take you on an excursion especially planned to highlight the uncommon caiman that inhabits the region. Keep your eyes peeled for these small crocodilians as you float along the calm riverbank. The activity will take approximately an hour and a half, after which you will be driven back to The Castle for dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7. Cacao Community
Following breakfast today you will go two miles downstream to the convergence of river San Juan and river Bartola which marks the Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve. This lush wetland is unique in the country and the reserve is dedicated to the conservancy and research of the many species it hosts. Start with a boat excursion of the area and then disembark for a hike up the Bartola trail.
Animals you could see during your exploration of the reserve include manatee, jaguar, tapir, harpy eagle, green limpet, sawfish, spider monkey, and even crocodile. Enjoy a picnic at the reserve before going to the Cacao Community. Visit with the eight families in the community who make a living through cacao making. Explore the cacao fields and be invited into the homes of the families to learn the mystery behind delightful cacao drinks and tortillas. Later, go back to The Castle to have dinner and relax.
Day 8. Drive to Managua
Enjoy your last breakfast in The Castle before going by boat back to San Carlos Pier. Have a traditional lunch in San Carlos and continue to Managua with your guide. The drive takes approximately 5 hours through largely uninhabited land. You may also choose to spend an extra night in this area and catch the domestic flight back to Managua the next day. Upon arrival in Managua, relax and rest at your hotel.
Day 9. Return home
You will be transferred to the international airport for the next part of your journey. To extend your Nicaraguan wildlife adventure, go to Selva Negra for a three-day stint at this coffee plantation. Or volunteer with the Padre Ramos Turtle Conservation program on the Pacific Coast. Live and volunteer together with biologists and volunteers as you learn about this crucial hawksbill turtle habitat. This trip is available from mid-April to September, contact us for more information.
map, expenses & price
Wildlife and Nature of Nicaragua
-All private transportation.
-Eight nights of hotel accommodations.
-Professional certified guides.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-All park entrance fees.
Per person starting at $1,900