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Nicaragua Adventure: Sea Turtles and Volcanoes

Visit Central America’s hidden gem to see nesting and hatching sea turtles, explore charming towns, and view active volcanoes on this 8-day expedition.

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Overview

  • Explore the wild and beautiful Pacific coast of Nicaragua, from expansive sandy beaches to mangrove estuaries and dry forest.
  • Our trip is timed to coincide with peak nesting of two sea turtle species, with a chance to see an “arribada” mass nesting event.
  • Visit charming colonial towns, geothermal lakes, and active volcanoes.

Nicaragua has been gaining international acclaim as an “undiscovered” natural and cultural destination in recent years, and this trip will show you why. Our itinerary takes you along the Pacific coast from Juan Venado Nature Reserve and Padre Ramos Estuary in the north to San Juan del Sur and La Flor Wildlife Refuge in the south. These areas provide important habitat for four sea turtle species, and our trip is timed to coincide with the peak nesting of two species: hawksbills and olive ridleys. We’ll have the chance to see both nesting adults and hatching babies, and with luck may see the mass nesting “arribada” of olive ridley turtles.

We’ll also visit the colonial towns of Granada and Leon, enjoy a swim or paddle in a geothermal lake, and visit the smoldering Masaya volcano on our adventure.

Trip Dates & Cost

2017: December 2–9. $2,795 per person.* Group size limit 12.

2018: December 1–8. $2,795 per person.* Group size limit 12.

* Trip price does not include international airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $545. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Roderic Mast is Oceanic Society's President and CEO. He is a lifelong conservationist, a marine biologist, and an experienced travel guide who got his start as a naturalist in the Galápagos Islands. Rod is an expert in sea turtles, and is the both the co-chair of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and the founder of the State of the World's Sea Turtles Program, which is managed by Oceanic Society. Rod is also a passionate photographer, author, and public speaker.

Brian Hutchinson is Oceanic Society's vice president of outreach, co-founder of the State of the World's Sea Turtles Program, and program officer of the IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Brian holds a B.A. in zoology from Connecticut College, and has been working to advance global marine conservation for more than a decade.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Managua - León
Upon your arrival into Managua you will be met and transferred to the charming colonial city of León, approximately 2 hours away. Our hotel is located in the central historic area, near the main plaza and the León Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy an orientation dinner, and overnight at Hotel El Convento.

Day 2: León - Juan Venado Nature Reserve
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and city tour of the town of León, rich with history and colonial intrigue. We'll then continue west to Isla Juan Venado on the Pacific coast. A boat tour through the mangroves is followed by a short hike through the dry forest to the sea turtle hatchery. We'll relax on the isolated beach and hope to see baby sea turtles hatch before heading on to our hotel. Overnight at Hato Nuevo in Chinandega.

Day 3: Padre Ramos Estuary
After an optional early morning nature walk around our hotel grounds, we'll explore the mangrove forests of Padre Ramos estuary by kayak, quietly paddling while looking for herons, ospreys, flying fish, and surfacing sea turtles. Enjoy a delicious lunch on the beach.

Padre Ramos is a mangrove estuary and an area of intense natural beauty that has been protected as a nature reserve since 1983. The reserve consists of more than 28,000 hectares of mangrove, beaches, coral reefs, and coastal areas. It is also home to one of the two most important nesting beaches for the Eastern Pacific population of hawksbill turtles, which are critically endangered. This area was only recently discovered by scientists and hosts almost half of all known hawksbill nesting in the region.

The turtle eggs are protected through an innovative program that pays local residents to collect the eggs and bring them to a protected hatchery. To finish the day, we will participate on a long-term study of the hawksbill nesting population led by the project's biologists. Overnight at Hato Nuevo.

Day 4: Pueblos Blancos & Laguna de Apoyo
Today we’ll head south along the coast and to the spectacular caldera lake of Apoyo Lagoon, where we'll spend the night. On our way, we'll visit one of the nearby towns that are collectively known as the Pueblos Blancos ("White Towns") for the traditional whitewash that was used on buildings. Today these small towns are full of art, colorful flowers, and outstanding views. After lunch we will continue to the Apoyo Lagoon, a paradise for those who love swimming in natural environments. This is a geothermal heated caldera lake that maintains a perfect swimming temperature. Enjoy swimming, kayaking, or paddle boarding from our hotel, Apoyo Resort.

Day 5: San Juan del Sur & La Flor Wildlife Refuge
After breakfast we head back to the coast to the charming beach town of San Juan del Sur (~2 hours).
We then continue to our beachfront cabañas located near La Flor Wildlife Refuge and check in. Around sunset we will head to the beach to look for nesting olive ridley sea turtles with the hope to witness an "arribada" or mass nesting event—one of nature's greatest spectacles. La Flor is one of only seven beaches worldwide that hosts arribadas, and as many as 5,000 turtles can come ashore to nest here in one night! Although we cannot guarantee that a mass nesting event will occur during our trip (their timing remains one of nature's great mysteries), we have timed our program to increase our chances. We are very likely to see sea turtles nesting, as well as hatching baby turtles making their way to sea. A once in a life-time experience! Overnight at Parque Maritimo El Coco.

Day 6: La Flor Wildlife Refuge
Today we have a full day to explore the coast and dry forest surrounding La Flor Wildlife Refuge . Enjoy a kayaking excursion along the dramatic coast followed by lunch on the beach. In the afternoon, you'll have the chance to snorkel in an area where sea turtles are often found. Tonight we'll head to the beach to again look for nesting sea turtles.

Day 7: Granada & Masaya Volcano
This morning we leave the coast and transfer to the renowned colonial city of Granada. Here we will hear the “other side of the story” – meaning the colonial history of this rival to León. We will also visit the smoldering, active volcano of Masaya. Granada is known for its many fine restaurants and we will end the day with a farewell dinner in one of them. Overnight at Hotel Plaza Colón.

Day 8: Managua, departure
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Managua (approx. 45 minutes away).

Note: Activities and accommodations described in the itinerary are subject to change based on availability, weather conditions, and other factors.

Accommodations

Throughout our program we will stay in double-occupancy rooms at comfortable and convenient hotels. These may include:

Hotels are subject to change and will be confirmed in your final itinerary.

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