Day 1: Managua, Nicaragua / Granada
Welcome to Nicaragua. Upon arrival in Managua, you proceed through Immigration and Customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where a representative from Big Five will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to the colonial city of Granada. Founded in the year 1524, the town grew up along the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Named after the city of Granada, Spain, it echoes of another time with its colonial church architecture, narrow streets and large, colorful homes constructed around beautiful indoor patios. You are transferred to your private island lodge via a short boat ride. Your home for the next three nights, this top nature eco resort sits on a private island in the Granada Isletas of Lake Nicaragua. One of Nicaragua's best, it has just nine private luxury casitas that provide the perfect setting for romantic escapes, honeymoons, or just an elegant escape. Activities include wellness and yoga retreats. Jicaro Island Ecolodge - Bungalow (L,D)
Day 2: Granada
This morning, you explore the colorful Masaya arts and crafts market for local handmade hammocks, wood and leather goods as well as ceramics. Before heading to the next stop, enjoy lunch at Catarina overlooking the Apoyo Lagoon. In San Juan de Oriente, one of the Pueblos Blancos, White Villages, you see the fine ceramic artwork carried on through the master artisans. Return to the city to tour Granada's historic center. Founded by the Spanish in 1524, Granada is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas. You explore the oldest part of the city by foot and in a traditional horse-drawn carriage The oldest part of the city is home to the Xalteva Church and the old city walls. Pirates burned down the convent 1665. Today the convent-cum-museum is noted for its ancient catacombs beneath the convent and church. Priests and other citizens of Granada have been buried here since 1546. An estimated 75,000 people have been buried in the catacombs’ walls. UNESCO is considering listing Granada as a Heritage of Mankind Site.
In the late afternoon you visit Volcano Masaya National Park, Nicaragua’s first national park established in 1979. The park includes a beautiful volcanic lake, Masaya Lagoon. You will note the influence that volcanic activities have had in the shaping of the area. Only ten minutes from the entrance is the environmental interpretation center, a museum where you can see a model of the park, paintings by Nicaraguan artists that depict the history of the volcano. Learn about tectonic plates and the effect they have on volcanic regions of the planet. Continue your trip to the summit of this volcano to see the Santiago Crater, active since 1946. The Masaya is very active at the moment, and presents a unique opportunity to get close to see an active volcano with boiling lava inside the crater, which is especially dramatic at night. Wildlife is very active at night as well with diurnal animals looking for a place to sleep, and nocturnal animals waking up. You might even see green parakeets returning to their nests inside the crater. Please note that because of the volcanic activity, it is possible that circumstances do not allow you up the volcano and that the park is temporarily closed down. Jicaro Island Ecolodge - Bungalow (B,L,D)
Note: We ask those guests who are interested to bring school supplies to donate to a hammock workshop that employs deaf and mute residents. Local children who cannot afford school supplies bring plastic bags that they have picked up and collected, which they deposit in a plastic bank in exchange for school supplies (which you have donated). The plastic bags are woven into a "Neverending" plastic hammock that hangs from the ceiling as art. The goal is to make the world's largest hammock while benefitting local students.
Day 3: Granada - Mombacho Volcano
Today, you head to Mombacho Volcano for a nature walk around the dormant volcano's crater. You drive to the foot of the mountain and meet the park keepers. Then, you switch to a four-wheel-drive vehicle to explore the volcano, passing through cloud forest surrounded by exuberant vegetation and offering breathtaking views. You hike trails and learn more about the geology and people of the area. The afternoon is at leisure. Jicaro Island Ecolodge - Bungalow (B,L,D)
Day 4: Granada / San Juan del Sur
This morning, you are privately driven about two and a half to San Juan Del Sur, one of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua. Once a quiet fishing village, San Juan del Sur has emerged into one of the country´s major beach destinations. Fortunately the town has maintained its charm and laid back atmosphere. It is home to many hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs and offers great nightlife. The beaches are great for surfing almost year round; other activities include snorkeling, diving, sailing and whale watching. You can do a canopy tour just outside the town and enjoy nice views of the surrounding landscapes. Also the protected La Flor beach and wildlife reserve should not be left out of any itinerary, especially for those who are keen to see marine turtles.
Twenty minutes north of San Juan del Sur, Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge sits on a crescent shaped beach with an estuary leading into an exotic rainforest. You cross a suspension bridge over a canyon to get to the rustic, wood and stone bungalows overlooking miles of private beach, each open to ocean breezes on three sides. The Morgan's Rock has its own farm for an authentic Nicaraguan breakfast. You are invited to milk the cows and collect eggs for breakfast.
The lodge is well-suited to anyone searching for a place to enjoy a touch of luxury in a relaxing, Pacific beach setting. All bungalows face west to allow for maximum ocean viewing. All access to bungalows requires stair and path walking as bungalows are connected to the main lodge by an amazing suspension bridge crossing a forested canyon. Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge - Ocean View Bungalow (B,L)
Days 5-7: San Juan del Sur
Enjoy a variety of activities available through the lodge as well as plenty of time to relax. Select one activity a day. You can begin with Breakfast at the Farm, a delightful and unusual way to start the day. Collect eggs from the chicken coup, milk the cows, and pound corn to make fresh, homemade tortillas. The hard yet enjoyable work culminates in a family style Nicaraguan breakfast at the farm house. Breakfast is a hearty affair of gallo pinto (Nicaraguan rice and beans), eggs, milk, hot coffee and freshly pressed juice and of course those delicious handmade corn tortillas that you helped prepare. You may opt for a jungle walk offers an exciting venture into the jungle to learn about indigenous species and wildlife on a two-hour hike as you explore the wilderness with an experienced guide. Likely sightings include howler monkeys, white face monkeys, spider monkeys, the two and three toed sloth, coatis (Brazilian aardvark), opos. A night walk shows you another side of the jungle. You embark on an exciting excursion into the jungle to discover nocturnal creatures and experience a unique after-dark trek. Expert local guides and a good flashlight insure your safety as well as an awesome, educational and fun night-time adventure. Some animals you may expect to see along the way include opossums, bats, owls, skunks, porcupines, deer, and even sleeping birds. Venture out to explore the vast property in search of the abundant wildlife and to discover the preservation initiatives such as the reforestation projects and sustainable tree farm. On this tour, you visit the property’s sustainable “tree plantation,” where they plant and harvest trees for commercial use to lessen the strain on Nicaragua’s valuable forests. You also visit the organic farm, with its lively chickens and gentle holstein cows. You can choose to go on a horseback riding through the tropical dry forest around the hacienda. As you trot through virgin forest you’ll spot local inhabitants such as playful monkeys, lazy sloths and exotic tropical birds in their natural habitat. On this guided trek you’ll emerge out of the forest unto a coastal hill that offers the ultimate overhead view of the entire property and beyond to San Juan del Sur. End the tour with a brilliant ride on the hacienda’s secluded beach. Gallop across a mile long stretch of white sand, splashing through the surf for an unforgettable finale to a very special day. The horses enjoy frequent treks on the property and have plenty of natural space to roam and relax. Consider ending your day with a short hike to the premier vantage point for views of the stunning sunset as it disappears into the Pacific. This easy and enjoyable walking tour begins at our private beach and leads to a relaxed, romantic setting upon a hill overlooking the ocean. A perfect, breathtaking conclusion to any day here at the hacienda. Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge - Ocean View Bungalow (B,L)
Day 8: San Juan del Sur / Managua / Depart
This morning, you are transferred to Managua Airport (3 ½ hour drive) (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From $2999