Leon / Granada
Spirit of Nicaragua
8 Days – 7 Nights
Prices starting at $3,067 based on double occupancy.
|Leon||2||El Convento (Standard Room)|
|Granada||5||Real La Merced (Suite)|
We are met by our guide and transferred to the hotel. Overnight at our hotel in Leon.
We have a full day at Casa Hogar Santa Lucia with the blind children in Chinandega. This work began in 1993, thanks to the interest of a non-sighted Italian, Antonio Mariani. He came to Nicaragua in order to help the blind in the city of Chinandega to learn to read and write using Braille. With the help of diplomatic ladies accredited in Nicaragua and the Netherlands Embassy, the children’s house for the blind was built. Currently Casa Hogar Santa Lucia is home to 11 children from various parts of Nicaragua. The school provides non-sighted children with lodging, food, clothing, medical care, medicine, understanding and affection. They have a period of adaptation and training in different learning activities including music, crafts, physical therapy and writing in Braille. They are attended to by trained and qualified personnel. After the training period, they are integrated into the primary and secondary formal school system with sighted children. The goal is that, in the future, they can be independent and mainstreamed into society. (B,L)
Today, we have a colonial Leon city tour in a private car with a guide. Leon was founded by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in the year 1524. The city was actually built next to the town known as Imabite but, in the year 1610, it was moved to its current location after being destroyed by a series of eruptions from the Momotombo volcano. The city was basically buried, which is why it is called the Central American Pompeii. The ruins were found in the year 1967 and recently declared Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. We will have a very interesting tour where we learn about the early history of the first capital city of Nicaragua. On the hill where the fort is buried, we will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Momotombo volcano and Lake Xolotlan. We then continue to the city of Leon to see the main churches including the monumental cathedral, the largest in Central America, located at the main square. We will also see the birdhouse of Ruben Dario, the Ortiz Gurdian Art Gallery and the El Convento hotel with its colonial architecture. During the walking tour, we get to know the historic murals of the city and understand the role played by Leon in the social, economic and political development of Nicaragua. We will visit the Hervideros de San Jacinto and get really close to the heat coming up from the interior of the earth. We also be able to see the boiling mud at very high temperatures inside these craters, all of which is a very impressive spectacle to behold. Lunch at a local restaurant in Leon before we depart for Granada, with a stop at Masaya city. At Masaya volcano, we will get out of our vehicle and walk a few steps to see the Santiago crater, active since 1946. We will also have time to explore the surrounding area and see more volcanic formations. Next, visit the Masaya Market, where we will have the chance to see and buy some arts and crafts at the local market. (B,L)
Visit the colonial city of Granada, also founded by Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in the year 1524. It is next to the Mombacho volcano and the great lake of Nicaragua. Named after the city of Granada in Spain, this city has plenty of colonial churches, narrow streets and large homes with beautiful indoor patios, tiled roofs and pretty colonial colors. We will see La Merced church, the famous Casa de Los Tres Mundos and the San Francisco convent. Here, we will have the opportunity to see and take pictures of mysterious idols made by their ancestors. This is an impressive collection of genuine pre-Columbian sculptures in human and animal shapes. Due to the historical and cultural value of the city, it is in the process of being declared Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO. Lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to the Chocolate Museum.
Everybody knows about Belgian, Swiss and French chocolate, but not necessarily Nicaraguan chocolate. Originally from Central America, this plant has an extraordinary history. It was one of the most important products for the Mayan and Aztec cultures, as well as other Central American ones. The discovery of America led to the introduction of chocolate in Europe, transforming it into the product we all know today. At Choco Museum we will follow all the processes to make chocolate from fermented organic cacao beans. We will learn how to roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine and mold. At the end of the 2-hour workshop, we will leave with a sample of our very own handmade Nicaraguan chocolate. We then continue to Lake Niceragua where we will enjoy a relaxing boat ride around some of the islands formed by the impressive Mombacho volcano. We will see the volcanic evidence and influence in the area. Enjoy great landscape views and wildlife and, of course, have a chance to take pictures. (B,L)
In 2006, William M. Ashman, an American resident in Granada, noticed the horrific reality experienced by the special needs infants, children and adults in the area. To his dismay, he discovered that there was no social support for this segment of society. He decided to help by starting an organization that could make a difference in the lives of these individuals. He founded a group named Corazon Contento, which translates to “Happy Heart.” The group included an assortment of people of various nationalities, professional backgrounds and levels of familiarity with the reality of Granada. They all had a common desire to work for the rights of individuals with special needs. In 2008, after the acquisition and remodeling of a building, hiring teachers and staff and forming programs, Happy Heart opened its doors. Corazon Contento is supported by loyal donors. People also donate food and materials needed for the work that is done at the center. (B,L)
Today, we will head to Mombacho volcano for a nature walk. Our vehicle will lead the way to the foot of the mountain where we will switch vehicles and start our way up to the top on a four-wheel drive vehicle. Right from the start, we will be surprised by the biodiversity of this natural reserve, surrounded by lush vegetation. When we reach the summit and enjoy breathtaking views, we will understand why this ecosystem is a cloud forest. The park keeper will give instructions to everyone, so we can safely enjoy our visit. We will then take the trails of the volcano (for approximately one hour and 45 minutes) to learn about the flora, fauna, ancient people who lived there and the Vulcan logy of the area. If the day is clear enough, we will visit an impressive viewpoint to observe the plain Pacific region of Nicaragua. Next, qualified staff will assist us to put on all the necessary equipment for one of the most exciting excursions of Nicaragua – the canopy tour. Canopy is an English word that refers to the top of the tree which is where the adventure actually takes place. After we gear up, we will be driven to the starting point where instructions and safety measures will be provided, in detail, by the staff members. We will be able to slide on cables that connect platforms located at the very top of enormous trees. Of course, we will be assisted the whole trip so we can enjoy this experience in comfort and safety. As we slide from platform to platform, we can admire the wonderful sights of the surrounding nature. Lunch is at the reserve. ,b>(B,L)
Calos A. Bravo School has a program where the children, teachers and community receive year-round environmental education and take active part in field trips to understand the importance of protecting the environment. The project is designed to provide children with school supplies that will support their education, while developing their commitment to helping protect the environment. This project also seeks to improve the school’s basic infrastructure, such as restrooms, classrooms and water access. We can help the children with donations (notebooks, pencils, erasers etc.) to use in their studies. We have the opportunity to repair some common areas of the school, paint classrooms and engage in activities with the children. (B,L)
Transfer to Managua airport for your flight home. (B)