Day 1 :
Departure from US - Arrive in Nicaragua
- Travel to Managua:
Relax and enjoy our scheduled flight from Dulles Intl Airport (or National Airport) to Managua, Nicaragua.
Our Tour Director will meet us at the airport.
Our private coach will be waiting to transfer us to our hotel in Managua.
Our base for the next one night will be Managua, where daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included.
Managua, on the south shore of Lake Managua, is the capital city of Nicaragua. Its cathedral, a shell since a 1972 earthquake, is on the Plaza of the Revolution. Nearby is the tomb of Sandinista leader Carlos Fonseca. The 1935 National Palace of Culture houses the National Museum. Hilltop Parque Histórico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa is known for its crater lake and huge statue of revolutionary Augusto Sandino.
Day 2 :
Managua - Leon
- Palacio Nacional de la Cultura:
Today we will visit some of the key political and historical sites of Managua, including the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura. Built in 1935, the Palacio has been turned into the Museo Nacional displaying the history of the country, from the pre-columbian to the Sandinos and Sandinistas. The Palacio Nacional is where Congress met during the Sandino era and was taken over by Sandinista guerillas in 1978. Arnold Belkin, a Mexican artist, created the mural of revolutionary movements throughout Latin America that is displayed above the main staircase.
- Museum of Sandinista Victory:
Continue to the Museum of Sandinista Victory for a different view surrounding the civil war, based on President Daniel Ortega.
We will board a private coach for our transfer to León. Water will be available to us on the bus each day.
Our base for the next two nights will be Leon (area), where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
The city of León was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Leon grew to prominence in the Middle Ages, and became the leading city of Christian Spain and an important stop on the Camino de Santiago. Today, this tranquil stop offers a wealth of old monuments and medieval architecture.
Meet a veteran of the Revolution against Somoza's National Guard in León.
Day 3 :
Leon - Service-Learning
- Local market:
Begin our day by visiting the local market to get a feel for the kind of local fruits and vegetables available here. This market was bombed by Somoza's forces during the revolution in 1979.
- Catedral de León:
Visit the Catedral de León (Santa María de Regla), an incredible French Gothic structure built over the remains of Roman baths. Highlights of our visit include 13th century stained glass, one of the oldest choirs in the country, and the beautiful sculpture Virgen de la Esperanza.
- Local School Visit:
Journey out into the countryside to visit a local school, where we will meet with local students.
Our service-learning activity for the rest of our day will be giving back to the local community by volunteering at Proyecto Barrilete, an after-school project for poor children in Guadalupe, León. These children often come from families that cannot help them with their homework after school. The children come to Barrilete to eat lunch, learn, play and to get help with their school assignments. The project also now provides sleeping arrangements for some children, and helps the children when they are in need of medical care. We will paint the study center and afterwards, the children will teach us a traditional folkloric dance.
- Local dining:
This evening we will have dinner as a group in a local restaurant.
Day 4 :
Leon - Esteli- Matagalpa
Today we will travel from León to Matagalpa.
Journey today into the Central Highlands, visit the city of Estelí, one of the main locations from which the Sandinista movement started. Effects of the revolution and Hurricane Mitch can still be seen in city streets. Meet with an ex-combatant or a family member of a rebel casualty from the Sandinista revolution.
Continue to Matagalpa, which used to be an indigenous village. The Matagalpa Indians had their own language, though it has now been extinct since 1875. It is the birthplace of Carlos Fonseca Amador, the founder of the Sandinista Front in 1961.
- Overnight at the Selva Negra Mountain:
Overnight tonight in Matagalpa in the cloud forest reserve at the Selva Negra Mountain. Breakfast and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 5 :
Matagalpa - Masaya - Granada
- Coffee Plantation:
Today we will travel from Matagalpa to Granada. En route, stop at a local organic shade Coffee Plantation and learn about the process of cultivating and processing coffee beans, a major industry in Nicaragua.
Continue to the villages of Masaya, known for its many whitewashed villages nestled in the nearby hills surrounded by huge crater lakes and the National Park to view the Masaya Volcano.
Granada is the oldest colonial city in the country, bringing history alive with its charming streets and pastel shaded colonial architecture. The city witnessed many battles and invasions from British, French and Dutch pirates. Granada has served as the center of commerce for centuries, due to its premiere location for timber, gold and silver mining.
- Casa Xalteva:
Visit Casa Xalteva, a nonprofit language school to watch a film on Nicaragua with local children.
Our base for the next two nights will be in homestay with local families from Casa Xalteva, breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided.
Day 6 :
Mombacho Volcano & Lake Nicaragua
- Choco Museo:
Our day begins at the Choco Museo, where we learn about the history of cacao and its farming process in Nicaragua.
- Cooking Class:
Participate in a Cooking Class making chocolate from local cacao beans through a chocolate bar.
- Isletas of Lake Nicaragua:
Today, we will visit the Isletas of Lake Nicaragua. This freshwater lake is the largest lake in Central America and is a key element to the surrounding Nicaraguan landscape, especially the thousands of different species that live around and within the lake. In an attempt to take Nicaragua away from poverty, a rival to the Panama Canal is planned using lake Nicaragua, although there are many objections from environmentalists.
- Mombacho Volcano:
This afternoon we will visit the cloud-forest covered crater of the Mombacho Volcano. We will hike around the crater as we learn about the myths and local legends of the volcano as we keep an eye out for the wildlife that live in this lush environment.
Day 7 :
Granada - Masayan Villages - Managua
- Masayan Villages:
Explore the rich, indigenous cultures of the Masayan Villages. These towns have a deeply rooted Indian culture and traditions that are still alive today.
- Visit local families:
We will visit a local family and learn about the local art produced in the area. These traditional handicrafts and arts are passed down from generation to generation and include high-quality ceramics, pottery, baskets, and hammocks. Visits today may include Diriomo, famous for its sweets, San Juan de Oriente, producing the finest pottery in Central America in family workshops, and Catarina, where potted plants and rustic bamboo baskets are made and used in markets around the country.
Continue to Managua, stopping on the way at the 19th century Masayan artisan's market, displaying handmade crafts from all over Nicaragua having been rebuilt following the Sandinista revolution.
- Meet with local University professor:
Enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant before meeting with a University professor to discuss the effects during and after the Sandinista Revolution, and subsequent governments.
Continue to our hotel in Managua for the evening where we will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 8 :
Managua - Departure from Managua
- Depart for home:
Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our Tour Director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.