NICARAGUA & HONDURAS:
an OCEAN-TO-OCEAN TRAVEL ADVENTURE in July-August 2005
A flaming acacia tree adorns a Nicaraguan highway
For late July and early August of 2005, Rutahsa Adventures has organized a
double-barreled, ocean-to-ocean trip covering two of Central America's lesser
known republics: Nicaragua and Honduras! Historic colonial cities, scenes of
revolution and intervention, a former dictator's home, the great inland sea of
Lake Nicaragua, rain forest and cloud forest biologic reserves, active
volcanoes, hot springs to bathe in, 1000-year-old Classic Maya ruins, arts and
crafts, Pacific and Caribbean sea resorts... All this and more are in store for
This trip is set up to allow travelers to participate in either the
Nicaragua or the Honduras trip segment, or the full combination trip.
Preference will be given to travelers booking the entire trip.
Here's the Nicaraguan section of the itinerary:
Day 1, Sat., July 23: AM: Fly U.S. to Managua, Nicaragua. You will be
met at Agusto César Sandino International Airport and be taken into
Managua where we will have lunch. In the afternoon we will have a guided tour
of the capital city and an introduction to its tragic history. Originally
chosen in the 19th century as a compromise capital located midway between
Granada (the power base of the conservative Legitimist party), and León,
(the seat of the more liberal Democratic party), Managua remains the political
capital of the nation today in spite of being flattened by the December 1972
earthquake and further damaged by civil war during the Sandinista Revolution
that overthrew the corrupt Somoza dictatorship. In addition to visiting
important sites in modern Managua (such as the Palacio Nacional), we will
visit the famous Huellas de Acahualinca where footprints fossilized in volcanic mud attest to a human presence in
this area since time immemorial.
After touring the capital, a drive of 35 miles in our private bus will bring
us to the colonial city of Granada, founded in
1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, and our lodging for the next two nights,
the Hotel Alhambra, right on the shaded Central
Plaza across from the Cathedral.
Transportation from the Managua airport to Granada can be arranged for
travelers unable to arrive in Managua in time to join the group for lunch and
the city tour (at extra cost).
Day 2, Sun., July 24: In the morning we'll enjoy a guided walk about
Granada, visiting some of its important historic sites, including the
Convento San Francisco Museum. In October of 1855, Granada was captured
by the American adventurer William Walker, who proceeded to make this city the
base of operations for his nearly successful attempt to take over the entire
country. A year later, when a Central American army forced Walker out of
Granada, he vindictively ordered the city razed to the ground. Although
Granada was rebuilt, the destruction wreaked by Walker's army explains, in
part, the present forms of some of the historic buildings.
After lunch you will have free time to continue exploring the city of Granada,
or perhaps take a scenic boat ride amongst the beautiful islands of the
archipelago known as Las Isletas. Here more than 350 islands, islets
and mere rocks appear to have been capriciously thrown into Lake Nicaragua. And
that is not very different from what actually happened, as the archipelago is
the product of a pre-historic landslide that roared down into the shallows of
the lake from the flank of Volcán Mombacho. Second night at Hotel
Day 3, Mon., July 25: This morning we will board our bus for a visit to
Masaya National Park and its huge active crater, Santiago, displaying like a textbook the gray lava flows and darker
beds interlayered in the manner typical of a composite cone. The flat lava
floor of Santiago often features a smoking pit
crater, and sometimes lucky visitors can look right down into the
glowing throat of the volcano! We won't know
until we get there just exactly what kind of a show we'll see, but one thing
you can count on is a closer-than-average view of whatever volcanic happenings
are going on!
In addition to the Santiago crater, the park features a fine little museum,
which we'll visit.
Back in Granada, some time around 2 PM, we'll go to the dock to board "El
Ferry", the public transportation for folks crossing Lake Nicaragua,
traditionally known as Lago Colcibolca. The lake, lying at a mere 32 m
(105 ft) above sea level, is huge --some 8264 sq. km. We won't traverse the
entire length of the lake to San Carlos (a long trip!), but will get off when
"El Ferry" docks at the town of Altagracia on the island of Ometepe. In the
meantime, we'll enjoy four hours of this laid-back mode of local
transportation, and gain an appreciation for the size of the great freshwater sea...complete with breakers and
freshwater sharks (so don't fall overboard!).
We'll be met at the Altagracias dock by our transportation for the 30-minute
ride to hotel Villa Paraíso, whose lakeside bungalows will be our
lodgings for the next two nights.
Day 4, Tues., July 26: Ometepe Island is formed by a pair of volcanic cones joined by a low isthmus created
by a lava flow from one of the cones. The taller, northwestern cone is
Volcán Concepción, rising to 1610 m (just over a mile high!).
Concepción is still active, emitting a major lava flow in 1957, and
spitting ash as recently as 1999. The southeastern cone of the pair is
Volcán Maderas, extinct, lower due to erosion (1394 m, 4573 ft), and
forested to its crater rim.
Our morning program is a visit to Volcán Maderas, our transportation
being a combination of local pick-ups and our own two legs. We will hike
part way up the forested western flank of the volcano to the beautiful San
Ramón waterfall, said to be 110 m high. Plan on wearing your hiking
boots for this outing!
The afternoon schedule is for rest and swimming in Lake Nicaragua, whose warm
waters lap the beach just a few moments' walk from our bungalows at Villa
Paraíso. Second night at Villa Paraíso.
For any intrepid adventurer wanting a more strenuous day, our hotel can provide
a guide for an 8-hour hike (five up, three down) to the crater rim of Maderas,
and a view of its crater lake, with hearings and sightings of howler monkeys
possible en route (cost of this extra tour is not included in the trip fee).
And anyone not interested in hiking can, of course, just spend the full day
hanging out and relaxing at Villa Paraíso-- not a bad idea at all.
Day 5, Weds., July 27: Today we take another ferry, this one from
Moyogalpa across a relatively short stretch of Lake Nicaragua to the town of
San Jorge where we'll find our charter bus waiting to pick us up again. We
drive from San Jorge to the city of Rivas, site of the most important battles
in the Guerra Nacional, as the war to oust William Walker is known.
Here Walker was surrounded and starved into finally surrendering... but that is
a very complex story, to be told in Nicaragua. We'll make a stop here in
Rivas, perhaps for lunch as well as history.
From Rivas we will continue on to the coast at San Juan del Sur. In the days
of the Forty-niners, San Juan was the Pacific terminus of the most important
route across the isthmus. Gold-seekers and other rough characters poured across
Nicaragua to ship from this port to fabled California. Gold and disillusioned
adventurers poured back east via the same route, known as the "Transit Route".
During his campaign to conquer Nicaragua, Walker relied on this flow of
hard-bitten types across the Transit as his source of reinforcements. Walker
battled Costa Rican armies and agents of the wily capitalist "Commodore"
Vanderbilt for control of this vital route. Then, after the mid-1800s, San Juan
del Sur slipped into a near-somnolence from which it has only recently
awakened. We'll enjoy a night here in the Hotel Casablanca, near the
waterfront of this formerly sleepy little port town, now opening up to the
possibilities of being a destination for tourism.
Day 6, Thurs., July 28: The morning will be free time for getting to
know the little port town, swimming in the Pacific, or exploring the shoreline
a bit. In 1978, your Rutahsa Adventures trip leader, Ric Finch, did some
geologic sampling along a very picturesque section of rocky cliffs and sea
caves just on the south side of the San Juan harbor; he has a notion to try to
get back to this scenic area, if it is still accessible, and would welcome some
company on what could prove to be a minor adventure.
This afternoon our private bus will take us to Montelimar Beach Resort also on
the Pacific coast. Montelimar, formerly one of the dictator Somoza's estates,
was confiscated by the Sandinista government, and converted into a luxury
resort-by-the-sea, run by the Barcelo chain of international resorts.
Montelimar features a very broad sandy beach, a huge swimming pool (with a
swim-up bar), restaurants with extensive buffets, more bars, tennis courts,
horseback riding, and a casino in the old Somoza seaside mansion! Your meals
and bar tab (national drinks) are included in your stay here-- hence we'll stay
two nights so you can take advantage of it!
Day 7, Fri., July 29: All day at Montelimar! Relax, surf, read while
you sun. To see more of the facilities of Montelimar Resort, take a peek at
their website, but be sure to use your "back" button to return to Rutahsa's
trip description: Montelimar Resort.
Day 8, Sat. July 30: Today we take our bus from Montelimar to the
important colonial city of León, founded the same year as Granada, 1524.
Originally located closer to Lake Managua, at the foot of Volcán
Momotombo, the city was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and eruptions
during the years 1580 - 1609, and was refounded in its present location in
1610. Though "new" León has also suffered earthquake and war damage
from time to time (as recently as the 1979 Revolution), its colonial
architecture and ambience are much better preserved than that of Granada. The
city is home to more than a dozen colonial churches, including the grandest
Spanish colonial church in all Central America, the Catedral de
León. Our lodgings tonight will be in the Hotel El Convento, a
colonial building connected to the San Francisco Church. It is described by
the Footprint Nicaragua Handbook as "Nicaragua's most charming colonial hotel,
and León's best." (Not to worry, the bathrooms and plumbing are
Evening: free time to explore León.
Day 9, Sun., July 31: After a continental breakfast (included) at El
Convento, we'll go on a guided, walking tour of León's most important
historic sites, including the massive cathedral. While at the cathedral we can
ascend the towers for views out over the city and the impressive backdrop of
For the afternoon, a hard choice must be made: We have planned an excursion
out to Cerro Negro, another very young and active volcanic cone. Born just in
1850, Cerro Negro is the youngest of a cluster of four ash cones located about
a 45-minute drive by 4X4 from León. We will hike about an hour to climb
about 400 m (1300 ft) to the crater rim, then circle the smoking crater, for
impressive views of the activity, before "ash skiing" back down to our waiting
vehicles. Total time for the outing: 4 to 5 hours. The hard choice: whether
to visit Cerro Negro or visit more of colonial León's historic sites.
Second night at Hotel El Convento.
Day 10, Mon., Aug. 1: Today we end our Nicaraguan travels. For those
signed on for the full Nicaragua-Honduras excursion, another charter bus, this
one from Honduras, will pick us up after breakfast at El Convento, and carry
us to the border, next the city of Choluteca, a short stretch of the Pan
American highway, then up into the mountains to Tegucigalpa, capital city of
Honduras. It's a full day's drive, but there's lots of scenery en route.
Travelers signed on for just the Nicaraguan portion of the excursion will be
taken back to Managua for their afternoon flights out, or to overnight in
Managua before flying out the next day. (The cost of the transfer from
León to Managua --and hotel in Managua, if needed-- will be provided to
the traveler at cost to Rutahsa Adventures, and will be dependent on the number
of travelers returning to Managua.)
END of NICARAGUA INTINERARY. To see the costs for this segment of the
excursion, scroll on down. To view the itinerary for Honduras, click here: Honduras 2005 itinerary.
This excursion is set up to allow the traveler to participate in either the
Nicaragua or the Honduras trip segment, or to join for the full adventure of
both segments. Costs for Nicaraguan and Honduran in-country services have been
carefully negotiated and agreed upon by Rutahsa Adventures, Inc. and the
Nicaraguan and Honduran suppliers. Barring an unexpected increase in costs
beyond the control of Rutahsa Adventures, Inc., the following prices should be
The cost of the excursion, based on a minimum of 12 participants is:
- Double accommodations, Nicaragua trip segment only, July 23 - Aug. 1: $1080
- Single room accommodations are available at a supplementary cost of $315
- Complete Nicaragua-Honduras trip, July 23 - Aug. 13: $2405 with a minimum
of 12 participants; $2340 with 14 - 16 participants.
- Supplementary cost of single room accommodations for the full trip: $705
Included in the inscription fee for Nicaragua: All ground and lake
transportation mentioned in the itinerary, all hotels, guide services, entry
fees to parks, museums and other visitors' sites included in the itinerary,
meals mentioned in the itinerary, and national drinks while at Montelimar
Also included for participants continuing on to Honduras: Transportation in
private bus on Aug. 1 from León, Nicaragua to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and
Nicaragua/Honduras border fees. Services included for the Honduras segment of
the excursion are detailed at the end of the Honduras trip website: Honduras segment.
NOT INCLUDED in the trip inscription fees: Transportation to and from Central
America; Nicaragua entry fee ($5); tips; souvenirs; meals and drinks (except
those specified in the itinerary as included); telephone/fax/e-mail services;
other personal expenses.
For travelers participating in the Nicaragua section of the trip only, the
following expenses are not included: transportation from León back to
Managua for your flight home (we will arrange this transportation for you, and
you will be charged only the direct cost); Managua airport tax/exit fee.
As always, the group size will be kept small (16), to maintain the quality
experience that an intimate group can enjoy.
HOW TO GET ON BOARD
To request an application blank for Rutahsa's Nicaragua-Honduras Tropical
Travel Adventure, to be placed on our mailing list for updates on this trip,
or to request further information about the trip, drop an e-mail request to
Travelers electing to participate only in the Honduras segment of the trip need
to arrive Tegucigalpa in the afternoon or early evening of Aug. 1. Rutahsa
Adventures will be happy to make arrangements for any traveler to be picked up
at the Tegus airport and taken to our hotel, Leslie's Place.
For favorable airfares to Managua and/or Tegucigalpa, we recommend you contact
Patricia Guamuchi, of Solar Tours in Washington, DC: 1-800-388-7652, extension
558. Be sure to dial the extension or to ask for Patricia. For several years
Patricia has given Rutahsa Adventures travelers exceptionally good deals; be
sure to tell her you are participating in a Rutahsa Adventures trip.
For other great out-of-the-ordinary eco-adventures and cultural trips, see Rutahsa Adventures' homepage.
Images on this webpage by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.