Nicaragua Lakes, Volcanoes, and Colonial Cities Excursion
Regardless of where I am traveling I always try to learn as much as possible about my destination. I believe that immersing myself in an unfamiliar culture is extremely important; I am able to gain knowledge I otherwise would not have access to. During my recent trip to Costa Rica, I was not up to the challenge of exploring on my own.
Swiss Travel is the local affiliate, and main service provider, of Apple Vacations in Costa Rica. Upon my arrival to our resort, I was invited to a Swiss Travel orientation. The Swiss Travel representative provided me with information on all of their available excursions.
I wish I had been able to take advantage of zip lining and hot springs excursions. However, the day trip to Nicaragua really caught my eye. I was in love with the idea of visiting another Latin American country… Particularly one that I have heard amazing things about.
History of Nicaragua
Once the most dangerous country in Central America, Nicaragua was notorious for drug trafficking. The Nicaraguan government worked very hard to rid the nation of that title… And it succeeded, as Nicaragua is now the safest country in Central America. With numerous passport checkpoints at the border, it is nearly impossible to bring anything or anyone in or out of the country without proper documentation.
Hearing this, I was excited to embark on the Nicaragua tour.
The Nicaragua Lakes Tour Itinerary
First of all, I must inform you that our morning started very early. We were picked up from our hotel at 5:30 am. At 6 am, we arrived at the Swiss Travel headquarters for a light breakfast. From there, we headed towards the Nicaragua border, an hour and a half drive. There we went through customs, first on the Costa Rican side, where the process took twenty minutes. Then, we repeated the process on the Nicaraguan side. We waited outside of the bus for over an hour, while customs officers checked our passports and bus.
Finally, we began to drive along the coast of Lake Nicaragua, past Nicaragua’s two largest volcanoes, Maderas and Concepción, towards Granada.
After a short drive through Granada, past the city hall, we boarded 10-passenger boats for a cruise through the “Fresh Water Sea”. Aboard the boat, we passed a few of Lake Nicaragua’s 365 islands, while observing animals (including monkeys!) in their natural habitat.
From Lake Nicaragua, we were driven to the Hotel Dario. We were treated to an inclusive lunch of traditional carne asada, rice, plantains, and watermelon juice. We relaxed and enjoyed a beautiful view of a colorful garden.
After lunch, we walked to the Plaza Colon in Granada, where we explored souvenir vendors and the Cathedral of Granada.
Masaya Volcano National Park
A 45-minute drive from Granada is the Masaya Volcano National Park. Masaya is home to the very active Nidirin volcano. Once every 30 years, this volcano erupts in a way which allows visitors to see lava from the viewpoint…
Lucky for me, this phenomenon was occurring during my trip to Nicaragua! Cars and busses could only stay at the viewpoint for ten minutes, due to sulfur in the air.
Lastly, the town of Catarina is the final stop on the tour. A non-active volcano turned artisan village is known for it’s handmade leather souvenirs. The viewpoint at Catarina is also a sight to see. On a clear day visitors can see as far as Granada and Lake Nicaragua. During my tour, the clouds obstructed the view and I was unable to get a clear picture.
Ultimately, we made the 2.5 hour journey back to the border and our hotel. When we arrived at 10 pm, I was very happy with the experience!
The Nicaragua Lakes Tour is available for purchase from Apple Vacations through Millennium Tours. Reserve yours prior to your trip to Costa Rica. If this interests you, please contact Millennium Tours for pricing and more information.