|Gold rush in Nicaragua: Rio San Juan, Lake Nicargua and Granada|
|The river and lake you are about to paddle was once traveled by famous explorers and naturalists as Diego de Machuca and Thomas Belt, describing the ever present spectacular flora and fauna. The same area was used by (mainly) British pirates as an assault route to ransack Granada city in the 17th and 18th centuries. Well known filibusters like Francis Drake, William Dampier, John Davis, Alexander Esquemelin and Raveneau de Lussan ventured into this isolated region. In the 19th century Mark Twain wrote about his journey on the river and Lake Nicaragua, traveling to California during the gold rush. Your naturalist bilingual guide provides a unique insight, exploring the river by kayak you learn to spot rare species of birds, reptiles and mammals. You will be amazed to approach a sunken steamship by kayak, partially overgrown by lush jungle, and to discover the remnants of dredge that Cornelius Vanderbilt used in his attempt to engineer an interoceanic channel. Apart from your naturalist guide, a local logistics specialist will join your party, setting up camp and cooking a traditional meal, always one step ahead.|
|1||Managua||Hotel Real Intercontinental Metrocentro|
|7||San Juan del Norte||Rio Indio Ecolodge|
|8||San Juan del Norte||Rio Indio Ecolodge|
|9||El Castillo||Hotel Victoria|
|10||Granada||Hotel Plaza Colon|
|11||Isletas de Granada||Jicaro Ecolodge|
Day 1 Welcome to Nicaragua|---
Welcome to Nicaragua! Your expedition leader welcomes you at the airport, for your transfer to your hotel, where you spend the first night with all the comfort you can expect in a capital city. The following day adventure will start, your guide and his assistant will take you back in time to Spanish colonial times, British pirate invasions, and the American Gold Rush.
Managua Airport - Managua
- Distance: 15 km.
- Road is in very good condition.
Average travel time: 25 minutes
Destination Info: Managua
Nicaragua's capital city is home to almost two million people, and is the heartbeat of the nation's culture and commerce. Managua hosts the country's main airport and is the starting point for many Nicaraguan vacations, but it's worth spending a couple of days exploring what the city has to offer, with a vibrant dining and nightlife scene, buzzing markets and impressive revolutionary landmarks. There's a selection of good quality hotels, and popular daytrips include the nearby Chocoyero-El Brujo Natural Reserve and the spectacular Masaya Volcano National Park.
Hotel Real Intercontinental Metrocentro
One of the finest hotels in Managua, the Real InterContinental Metrocentro offers elegance and style in the heart of the city. The building is one of the few high-rises in the capital, and is located right next to the Metrocentro shopping mall. The 157 rooms are spacious and equipped with all modern conveniences you would expect from a 4-star hotel, plus you'll have access to the hotel's pool, private parking and a selection of fine restaurants.
Day 2 Travel to Rio San Juan|B-D
Today, you take a ground transfer to San Carlos from Managua. Once in San Carlos you are transferred to the harbour to take the public boat to the small riverside town of Sabalos. You stay at a nearby jungle lodge, where you will enjoy wildlife.
Managua - San Carlos
- Distance: 293 km.
- Road is in good condition.
Average travel time: 5:00h
- Boat : 13:00 - San Carlos - El Castillo Average travel time: 2:30h
The San Juan River springs from the immense Lake Nicaragua and runs roughly 200 kilometers before connecting with the Caribbean Sea. Halfway down the river the enormous Indo-Maíz Biosphere Reserve gives visitors the opportunity to see hundreds of different bird species, including toucans, eagles, herons, egrets, and cormorants. Caimans, turtles, monkeys, and tropical frogs are also abundant. Visitors can easily access the area from both Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Hotel Sabalos offers the perfect setting from which to explore the beauty of the Nicaraguan wilderness along the Rio San Juan. The area surrounding the hotel is incredibly diverse and home to a large number of birds, varieties of mammals, and many species of reptiles. During your stay, you can explore the rainforest on kayak, cross the river into the little village of Boca Sabalos, or relax on the terrace looking out over the water.
The rooms are comfortable and simply decorated, each with direct access to the terrace which brings in fresh air from the river. You can also look forward to enjoying freshly caught and beautifully cooked fish from the hotel's on-site restaurant.
Day 3 Kayaking to Guácimo Lodge via El Castillo Fortress|BLD
Today your kayak adventure starts with a 16 kilometre, five hour paddle to Guacimo Lodge, located on the edge of the Indio Maíz Biosphere Reserve. En route, halfway, you visit the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, located on the southern bank of the San Juan River. El Castillo was built along the San Juan River in order to defend against pirate attacks upon the colonial town of Granada.
Destination Info: Bartola
The tiny Bartola community is located on the banks of the Bartola River, a tributary of Rio San Juan, and is surrounded by lush rainforest teeming with wildlife. Bartola is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, also a protected area.
13:30 Bartola - Kayak to El Castillo and Bartola
This afternoon you'll paddle for around 5 hours to Bartola, located in the Indio Maíz Biosphere Reserve, passing through the charming former fortress town of El Castillo. The area is incredibly rich in wildlife, which you'll spot along the river banks and in the rainforest which surrounds your lodge.
Located on the edge of the vast Indio-Maiz Biosphere Reserve, this rustic, sustainable jungle lodge offers the chance to connect with nature in a remote and beautiful part of Nicaragua. The comfortable bungalows and cabanas line the banks of the San Juan River, providing an open-air experience and wonderful views over the tropical forest from your private terrace. With king-sized beds, a swimming pool, yoga deck and restaurant serving local specialities, you'll have everything you need for an unforgettable jungle experience. Excursions into the nature reserve and to the picturesque town of El Castillo can be arranged locally.
Day 4 Rainforest kayaking: sunken steamship, Machuca rapids, San Carlos river delta|BLD
After a hearty breakfast with a view your naturalist guide introduces you to his operations assistant, who will join the team to travel ahead, paving the river as it were, setting up campsites and cooking local fare. Today you will first enter the biosphere reserve, paddle around a half-sunken steamboat from the 19th century, and challenge the white waters of the Machuca rapid. You continue kayaking down river to Boca de San Carlos Delta, altogether for about 8 hours, around 38 kilometres downstream. Overnight at a campsite at the park rangers station. Enjoy late afternoon admiring flora and fauna at the river delta.
07:30 Bartola - Kayak to Boca de San Carlos
Continue to Boca de San Carlos, you immerse into the Indio Maíz Reserve kayaking about 38 kilometres to the site where the San Carlos river joins San Juan river; composed by a rainforest in the Nicaraguan side. They journey for this day will take you across some rapids and you will see some remains of history as a steamboat from the 19th century.
In this area is also possible to observe crocodiles in the sandbanks.
Indio Maíz Nature Reserve Campsite
The next days you will be enjoying marvelous camping experiences in still pristine areas of the Río San Juan. On arrival, your tent will be set up by the banks of the river, and dinner preparations will be well underway. Enjoy a late afternoon admiring your wild surroundings, before enjoying a tasty campsite dinner as the sun goes down.
Day 5 Kayaking to Sarapiquí river delta|BLD
After breakfast at the riverfront campsite you prepare for an early start of another full day of your private kayak expedition, this time all the way to the Sarapiquí river delta, approximately 8 hours of kayaking, for 44 kilometres. You paddle through the heart of the Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve, dense tropical rainforest where the only signs of human civilization can be seen on the Costa Rican side of the river. You enjoy the surrounding wildlife as your naturalist guide introduces you to the many species that you encounter. Overnight at a camp-site at the Sarapiquí river delta, exclusively prepared for you.
07:30 Costa Rica - Kayak to Sarapiquí
Today you'll continue your journey to the Sarapiquí River Delta, around 8 hours away by kayak. Rio Sarapiquí begins in the Turrialba mountains, located in the center of Costa Rica, and was a hiding place for notorious filibuster William Walker after his defeat by local armies.
The area is composed of dense tropical rainforest and is great for birdwatching, with species of scarlet tanager, osprey, king vulture, belted kingfisher and rainbow-billed toucan all commonly spotted.
Day 6 Kayaking to El Jobo community|BLD
Waking up with a cacophony of birdsongs, your breakfast is prepared at your riverfront campsite. Next you gear up for a 6 hour and 32 kilometre kayak trip to the community of El Jobo, consisting of no more then a dozen of small houses. On the way you pass by many untouched river islands, and make a stop at the park rangers station of Delta, for a hot beverage and a chat. Your campsite will be set up at El Jobo, where some fresh local produce will enrich tonights dinner. You will have late afternoon at leisure to physically and mentally prepare yourself for the final stretch of the kayak expedition, the following day.
07:30 Río San Juan - Kayak to El Jobo
Today's stretch is around 6 hours, through dense tropical rainforest and passing many untouched river islands on the way to El Jobo, your campsite for tonight. You'll also stop at a park ranger station on route, where you can enjoy a hot drink and talk to the rangers about life in this part of Nicaragua.
El Jobo is a small local community founded by people that were refugees during the civil war in Nicaragua, who were relocated from Costa Rica to Rio San Juan in the Nicaraguan side. Your camp will be set up next to the village, and you'll have the evening to relax and recharge ahead of the final stretch of your journey tomorrow.
El Jobo Campsite
Day 7 Kayaking the final stretch, where the river meets the Caribbean Sea |BLD
After breakfast in the community you get ready for the last leg of your expedition, which runs through the Caribbean lowlands surrounding the river, a different ecosystem with surprising flora and fauna, and a rich history. The river looses much of it´s strength as you approach the Caribbean sea, this stretch still takes around 5 hours, being only 18 kilometres. Before arriving at your comfortable resort, Rio Indio Lodge, you cross several lagoons with manatees and parts of the abandoned canal that was constricted by Cornelius Vanderbilt at the times of the gold rush. After a well deserved hot shower and afternoon tea at your private deck clients and crew get together to celebrate with an evening storytelling at the lodge, of course with a wonderful meal.
Destination Info: San Juan del Norte
Founded as a garrison by the Spanish in 1539, San Juan de Nicaragua is one of the oldest towns in the Americas, with a rich history filled with conflict, trade and piracy. Almost destroyed by fire in 1854, remains of the old center known as Greytown can still be seen today, and you?ll find a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere amidst beautiful rural surroundings.
07:30 Rio San Juan - Kayak to San Juan de Nicaragua
The river loses much of its strength as you approach the Caribbean Sea, so today's stretch will take around 5 hours. Along the way you'll cross several lagoons where manatees are occasionally spotted, and parts of the abandoned canal that was constricted by Cornelius Vanderbilt at the times of the gold rush. You'll reach your comfortable lodge in the early afternoon, ready for a well-deserved hot shower and afternoon tea on your private deck. In the evening a delicious dinner will be served, and you can celebrate the end of your epic journey along the Rio San Juan in style.
Rio Indio Ecolodge
By far the most luxurious hotel in the Rio San Juan region, Rio Indio is an eco-lodge with all of the comforts of a luxury hotel. From its glorious riverfront location, you can explore Indio-Maiz Nature Reserve, the Blue Lagoon, the Caribbean Sea, and the town of San Juan.
The lodge was carefully constructed to blend in with its natural surroundings. Elevated walkways connect the 24 cottages with the main lodge, restaurant, bar, and swimming pool area. Each of the cabins come fully furnished with hardwood furniture and equipped with private bathrooms.
Rooms: Double Room - with Fullboard, Single Room - Single Room (guide) - with Fullboard
Day 8 Day at leisure, kayaking or touring from Rio Indio Lodge|BLD
Today you can either relax at the jungle resort and work on your expedition journal, enjoy the pool and surrounding wildlife, or to get your muscles stretched again for a kayak tour on the lagoon to spot rare species of flora and fauna with you naturalist guide. You can also explore the village of San Juan de Nicaragua, or Old Greytown with its ancient cemetery with impressive 18th- and 19th century graves.
Rio Indio Ecolodge
Day 9 Day at leisure in El Castillo|BL-
After breakfast, board the boat that takes you to El Castillo, after crossing back the Indio Maíz Nature Reserve. Today, you can visit the town on your own with your naturalist guide.
- Boat : 07:15 - San Juan de Nicaragua - San Carlos Average travel time: 7:00h
Destination Info: El Castillo
The jungle town of El Castillo is a picturesque place filled with colorful riverside houses, cobbled streets and fruit trees. The town has a rich history filled with conquerors and conflict, and the 17th century hilltop Spanish fortress, built to protect Lake Nicaragua from English pirates, serves as a reminder of those days.
You?ll find and easy-going and welcoming atmosphere in El Castillo, with plenty of culture, history and beautiful jungle surroundings.
Near to the center of the town, this friendly hotel offers clean, spacious rooms with wooden interiors, looking out over the Rio San Juan. It makes a comfortable and convenient base for your time in El Castillo. The adjoining Doña Victoria restaurant offers fresh fish caught in the San Juan River, as well as their specialty, the Giant River Shrimp.
Day 10 Travel to mainland Nicaragua, transfer to colonial Granada|BL-
After breakfast, you are transferred to San Carlos port where you and your guide take a boat to Puerto Colón port in mainland Nicaragua. Your driver will then transfer you to the colonial town of Granada. Upon arrival your guide will explore the old town with you, getting back in the footprints of the buccaneers that travelled up San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua. Overnight at in one of the best boutique hotels of Granada, situated at a prime historic location.
El Castillo - San Carlos (Public Boat Fast)
- Distance: 50 km.
- Road is in average condition.
Average travel time: 2:30h
San Carlos - Puerto Colón
- Distance: 50 km.
- Road is in good condition.
Average travel time: 2:00h
Puerto Colón - Granada
- Distance: 155 km.
- Road is in average condition.
Average travel time: 2:50h
Destination Info: Granada
Granada, or the "Gran Sultana", is one of Latin America's most beautiful cities, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Founded in 1524 on the shores of vast Lake Nicaragua, this ancient town is full of history and Spanish colonial charm, and is famed as one of the oldest European settlements in the western hemisphere. Amongst the narrow streets and glorious architecture, you'll find some excellent hotels, fine restaurants and plenty of interesting sites and museums to fill your days.
The city also makes a great base for exploring the surrounding area, with volcanos, beaches, national parks and the incredible waterworld of Las Isletas de Granada all within easy reach.
14:30 Granada - Stroll in Colonial Granada
Explore Granada's gorgeous historic center on foot, learning about the town's rich history and beautiful colonial architecture. Along with your local guide, you'll discover key sites including the old city walls, San Francisco Convent and La Merced church, where you can climb the bell tower and enjoy spectacular views over the town, Lake Nicaragua, and Mombacho volcano. After a visit to the local cigar factory, you'll finish at the Tio Antonio social centre - an initiative to create employment for people with disabilities, where you can enjoy a coffee and learn the hammock making process. It's a great way to introduce yourself to this magical city.
Hotel Plaza Colon
Hotel Plaza Colon is a beautifully refurbished colonial house overlooking Granada's Central Park, combining modern amenities with old world style and high standards of sustainability. All rooms are air-conditioned and set around a beautiful central courtyard and swimming pool, whilst some have a large terrace which offers great views of the park and the colorful cathedral. The city's highlights are on your doorstep, and there's a cozy bar where you can enjoy a nightcap after a long day of exploring.
Day 11 Kayaking to San Pablo Fortress - afternoon at leisure at Jicaro Ecolodge|BLD
After breakfast in a colonial setting you leave for the nearby Las Isletas archipelago of 360 islands in Lake Nicaragua. During a kayak tour you visit the last line of defense against pirate invasions in Granada, the San Pablo Fortress. With a little help from your private guide you have now revisited the entire route of the buccaneers, from the Caribbean Sea, over Lake Nicaragua, to colonial Granada; the oldest colonial city on mainland Latin America (1524). Around lunchtime you travel by boat to Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a world-class ecolodge located on one a private island of the Las Isletas archipelago. Afternoon at leisure, dinner and overnight at Jicaro Ecolodge.
Ext. Marina Cocibolca
- Distance: 5 km.
- Road is in good condition.
Average travel time: 10 minutes
- Boat : 11:00 - Granada´s Asese Port - Jicaro Island
Destination Info: Isletas de Granada
Located near to the shores of the vast Lake Nicaragua and created by a pre-historic eruption of the nearby Mombacho Volcano, Las Isletas are one of the country's most attractive natural highlights. An archipelago of 365 small islands scattered around the Asese peninsula, here you'll find a mix of tiny fishing communities, stunning private homes, and beautiful resorts and eco-lodges. The flora and fauna of the archipelago is remarkable, and best observed from a private deck, by motorboat, or by kayak slowly paddling around the islands.
08:00 Granada - Las Isletas Kayak Adventure (Private)
Explore the stunning Las Isletas archipelago by kayak, along with an experienced local guide. As you navigate through the calm waters around these 365 islets, you can spot species of birds and other wildlife that lives around this vast lake, and you'll also pass by local fishing communities and see their daily lives unfold. As you reach the quiet canals, you'll find yourself surrounded by lush vegetation, with kingfishers, white and grey herons and white throated magpie-jays living in the trees. It's the perfect way to see this spectacular part of Nicaragua.
Jicaro Ecolodge is one Nicaragua's most upscale and sustainable nature resorts, located on a private island in Lake Nicaragua and blending seamlessly into the natural beauty that surrounds it. Guests stay in one of nine luxury private casitas overlooking the lake, each one with a canopy bed, private bathroom and veranda. Built using local materials, both the casitas and the communal areas give a sense of indulgence and authenticity. During your stay, you can choose to relax in jungle-like surroundings at the pool, enjoy the lodge's spa treatments, take a yoga class or join one of the many activities and tours on offer. It's an island experience filled with peace, tranquillity and luxury.
Day 12 Your private kayak expedition is done, share your experience!|B--
Transfer from to the International Airport. End of your private expedition. Have a good flight back home or extend your stay in Nicaragua.
- Boat : Jicaro Island - Granada´s Asese Port Average travel time: 10 minutes
Granada - Managua Airport
- Distance: 51 km.
- Road is in very good condition.
Average travel time: 1:00h
In this reservations you traveled 619 km approximately. This produces 60.48 kg de C02. It takes 3.98 trees to compensate for the environment impact.
Our sustainable suppliers
Water Refill Point
- Hotel Plaza Colon : In support of our sustainability program and joint effort to ban single-use plastics, this accommodation hosts a water refill point. Our customers are given a personal aluminum bottle, to use throughout their tour.
- Luna del Rio : In support of our sustainability program and joint effort to ban single-use plastics, this accommodation hosts a water refill point. Our customers are given a personal aluminum bottle, to use throughout their tour.
Rainforest Alliance Certified
- Hotel Plaza Colon
: Certified by Rainforest Alliance. Hotel Plaza Colón sponsors an environmental education program in a local public school in Granada (Escuela Dezamber) by giving recycling stations and trees plantations, also with MONISA company, as we provided 1000 trees to be planted at the bottom of Mombacho Volcano ; their guests can also buy our pre-made backpacks equipped with school supplies for donation to this school. Hotel Plaza Colon sell souvenirs made by local cooperatives like UP Nicaragua, The Jicaro Project, Corazon contento, COOSMECH, Empowerment Nicaragua, (artisans and a school for children with disabilities).
They have a focus on buying all local produce, employing local tradesmen and providing internship opportunities, implementing recycling, executing water and electricity conservation programs.
Community based tourism
- Jicaro Ecolodge : Hiring of a local staff is essential to the success of the lodge. We want to spread the potential wealth that tourism brings to Nicaragua by hiring locals as employees, subcontracting services locally and buying and producing locally.
- Hotel Victoria : The energy that supplies the room for the lights comes from solar panels.
Social Commitment Project
- Luna del Rio : 5% of turnover of hotel is being donated to buy school equipment for children in El Castillo
Nature Conservation Project
- Hotel Sabalos : ecotourism, certified by ICV Initiative Centro America Verde by FODESTUR and INTUR
- Jicaro Ecolodge
: Harmony with nature and the local community were a key consideration in the development of Jicaro Island Ecolodge. The hotel was built with minimum impact to the island and with very careful planning in terms of water supply, waste water treatment and electricity usage. The team in charge of the management of Jicaro has a 12 year track record running ecolodges and sustainable hotels in Costa Rica and has brought this accumulated know how to Nicaragua.
To know more about our sustainable policy, we invite you to visit our website: www.vapues.com
|Minimum: 2 pax|
|Valid for 2021 except Easter Week, Chistmas & New Years period, besides other local festivities.|
|Net rate per person: US$4,800.00|
Note: This is just a quotation and suggested program. If at time of booking quoted hotels are not available, similar hotels will be booked and price is subject to change. All itineraries are subject to change, due to weather and other conditions. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.
- Meet & greet
- Information package with maps and a detailed itinerary
- Reusable bottle
- Lodgement at hotels as mentioned or similar
- Lunch on indicated days
- Dinner on indicated days
- Private Transfers
- English speaking guide from Day 1 till Day 12
- Entrance fees
- VAT / taxes
- International flights
- Meals other than mentioned
- Migration fees
- Personal expenses
- Optional tours/activities
- Tips nor porters
- Supplement at Rio Indio Lodge - Min 6 guests in order to book the lodgement.
Contact details Vapues ToursRestaurante Don Parrillón 1c. Este,
1/2 c. norte, casa # 45
Tel: (+505) 2270-1936
Emergency number 24/7
Tel : (+505) 7872 0076