While most of the touristic focus in Nicaragua is aimed towards Granada, the city of León is a cultural-historical attraction that really deserves a visit as well. Moreover, the direct surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for interesting day tours which makes Leon a great place to base oneself for a couple of days.

The fact that León is not so well-known to the general public has its advantages: it is in a way more authentic than Granada, giving visitors an opportunity to more easily connect with locals. A city tour is a good way to get to know the city and its (political) history and get a taste of the local atmosphere. The Leonese ambiance is quiet and gentle, and with some of the country’s main universities, there is always something to do at night: parties, live music, folkloric performances, etc.

The nearby beaches of Poneloya and Las Peñitas offer plenty of opportunities to relax, surf, swim or just enjoy the view from a hammock. The long Pacific coastline of the region offers white- and black-sand beaches, mangrove habitats, and numerous kilometers of bird-filled estuaries.

Another great attraction in the area is the massive chain of active and dormant volcanoes that stretch northwest from the Lake Xolotlán to the Gulf of Fonseca (border Honduras/El Salvador).A tour to one of the youngest and most active volcanoes of Nicaragua, the Cerro Negro, is a must-do. The volcano, covered with black volcanic debris, is quite easy to climb, and it is a marvelous experience: in a ski-like manner you descend the steep slope. For a bit more adventure, you can even try volcano boarding down the Cerro Negro as well.

In addition, León is a good starting place for more adventurous trips to other volcanoes in the north and to discover the city of Chinandega, the agribusiness capital of the country.

Finca Visit
A romantic trip back into history

A visit to the Ecological Finca San Carlos will take you on a romantic trip back to the era of Spanish Colonialism. After a hearty Nicaraguan breakfast Don Federico Guillermo Alberto Espinosa, more commonly known as ¨Don Tito,¨ or one of his friendly employees, will take you on a tour around some of the finca's 80 acres (approximately 33 hectares) of well-kept rural farmland. Here, you will experience the rich cultural and historical traditions of Nicaragua as you pass by the chapel with its many religious images and Spanish fountains.

Afterwards relax on a shaded bench, under a rancho, or in a tiny belvedere, and enjoy the wonderful views of flowering plants in the farm's well-kept gardens which serve as a refuge to many species of birds and wildlife. Take a walk, go horseback riding, or bird-watching on one of the many trails and admire the richness of the forest. Or simply go canoeing in the ¨El Jarro¨ river, born from a natural well which flows through this beautiful farm.



Duration: 3 hours
Start: 07:00 AM
End: 10:00 AM

Included:
Transportation
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Traditional breakfast with fruit juice and coffee.

Note:
+ Canoeing and horseback riding are only available from November to June (not included in tour price)
+ Overnight stay in one of the guestrooms can be arranged. If interested, please inquire with your Vapues consultant for availability and rates.

Cerro Negro Ash Boarding
Sliding down the slopes of Cerro Negro

The more adventurous should try their hand at Ash Boarding; the new extreme sport which allows visitors to descend the black sands of Cerro Negro strapped onto a board.

Upon arrival at the volcano pay the small entrance fee to get into the park. Once inside make your way up to the Cerro Negro crater where you will receive a short technical training from your experienced bilingual guide. Put on the protective equipment provided for your safe descent and get ready for the ride of your life!

It is possible to do a short test run inside the crater, before heading to the steeper outer rim for the real descent. After some final orientations you will board all the way down to the base of Cerro Negro. Some experience with (snow)boarding is strongly recommended.





Duration: 5 hours
Start: 08.00 AM
End: 13.00 PM

Included:
Pick-up at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4 vehicle)
Bilingual guide
Training & use of equipment

Not Included: entrance fees ($5 per person)
Note:
Guaranteed daily departure

City tour León
Explore the majestic city of Leon on foot

Explore the rich cultural and political history of one of Nicaragua's oldest and most influential cities. Defined by its graceful Spanish colonial architecture and fascinating political history, you will soon discover why León is at once considered to be Nicaragua’s historical, cultural, educational and religious capital. The best way to explore this captivating city is on foot, as much of its charm lies in the narrow colonial streets, museums, restaurants and cafes. In this guided walking tour you will visit revolutionary murals, baroque and neoclassical churches and a surprisingly interesting museum of legends, arts and poetry.

In addition, you will get to climb to the rooftop of Central America’s largest cathedral and enjoy the amazing views over the city and surrounding Maribios Volcanic Chain. During the tour we will also explore numerous colonial buildings, among them Nicaragua’s first university.





Duration: 3 hours
Start: 09.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 N | 17.00 PM

Included:
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Note: Walking Tour

Horseback riding at Finca Los Alpes
Enjoy the beautiful countryside outside of León on horseback

Experience panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and Maribios Range as you explore the scenic farm owned and operated by brother and sister Axel and Alma Urcuyo. After a short introduction, mount your horse and head out on the trails for a 2-hour tour. Return to the main house where you can relax and enjoy the breathtaking views from the veranda while sipping on your complementary drink. In the afternoons, the sunsets can be quite impressive, so make sure to bring your camera.









Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 N | 18.00 PM

Included:
Welcome at the Finca & short explanation
2 hours of horseback riding
Transportation
Complementary drink

León Viejo and lake Xolotlán
Discover the ruins of the original Spanish settlement of León

The first capital of Nicaragua, León Viejo or the old León, suffered severely after an eruption of the nearby Momotombo volcano in 1578. Soon after it was abandoned by all inhabitants and a new León was constructed 30 km to the west where it currently stands today.

Officially declared a World Heritage Site (UNESCO) in 2000, a visit to León Viejo will enable you to learn a great deal about Nicaraguan history. During the tour, you will become familiar with famous personalities, such as Fransisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the original founder of León Viejo who was beheaded by Pedrarias Davila. In addition, you can see the foundations of some of the houses and partially restored buildings, such as the original church. From the ruins enjoy the spectacular views over the enormous Lake Xolotlán and the impressive Momotombo volcano and its little brother, Momotombito.





Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.30 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.30 PM | 18.00 PM

Included:
Transportation
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Complementary drink

Juan Venado Island
Mangroves, river beds and secluded beaches

Juan Venado Natural Reserve is an impressive mangrove sanctuary, and a well-kept secret among tourists. Surprisingly..., we have to add, because the beauty of this remote area is unprecedented.

Transfer from León to the Pacific bay of Las Peñitas where you will board a motorboat towards the island. As you wind your way between mangroves, make sure to keep an eye out for diverse species of bird and aquatic wildlife that inhabit the area. You will reach a place where you can cross over to the secluded Pacific beach side of the island (only a few hundred meters) and enjoy a private walk or swim. If you are really lucky, you will even encounter crocodiles and the impressive Paslama Sea Turtle (in season: August-February) on your way.





Duration: 5 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 13.00 PM | 19.00 PM

Included:
Transportation (overland & aquatic)
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Complementary drink and fruit

Community Based Tourism

Workshop Arts & Traditions
Indigenous cultural heritage revealed

Learn how to create traditional Nicaraguan art in this unique and interactive cultural experience. Watch as a local bilingual artist demonstrates the age-old techniques for creating various types of typical Nicaraguan handicrafts; then try them out yourself. You may not be an expert after the first time, but at least you will have some original homemade souvenirs to take back to friends and family. During the workshop you will learn the following techniques and disciplines:

+ Basic techniques of pintura de caballete, elaboration of a postcard-sized painting
+ Elaboration of Jicará Handicrafts (such as: napkin holder, wallet, cup)
+ Preparation and elaboration of a sawdust carpet on the ground; an ancient tradition of the indigenous people of the Sutiava district.





Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 PM | 18.00 PM

Included:
Transport
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Use of equipment


Boiling volcanic mud fields of San Jacinto & Iguana farm
Impressive volcanic energy

Visitors are sure to be impressed by the incredible forces of nature present at the boiling volcanic mud fields of San Jacinto. Located just outside a small community near León, these volcanic fields serve as ‘breathing holes’ for the nearby volcanoes and, in turn, help to prevent future eruptions. Local people (especially children) are keen to sell you indigenous ceramics and handmade figurines, made fresh from the hot volcanic mud.

An optional walk to a local woman who specializes in making tortillas can also be arranged. In just a few quick and easy steps, you will learn the process for making your own basic tortillas! The next stop is a modest Iguana Farm run by a local family who provide a protected environment for more than 150 iguanas.





Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 PM | 18.00 PM

Included:
Transportion
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Complementary drink


Pacific salt factories & mangroves
Enjoy the beautiful countryside near León while supporting a small community’s social development project.

Make a visit to the small community of Tamarindo, located just 40 minutes outside of León. Take a small boat through the mangroves where you will have an opportunity to watch for wetland birds and other wildlife. Next, head over to the salt factory, and observe as local experts demonstrate and explain the traditional processes involved in the making of salt.

Learn about the evaporation, concentration and crystallization processes that these people have been using for decades. Finish up the tour in the salt factory where you will see the final product. By joining this tour you will help the economic and social development of the community, particularly the young environmentalists club.




Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 PM | 18.00 PM

Included:
Transport (overland & aquatic)
Bilingual guide
Entrance fees
Complementary drink


Sutiava history tour
Footprints of the pre-Columbian indigenous population

Travel back in time with historian Pablo Medrano as you learn about Nicaragua’s pre-Columbian indigenous population on this mystic half-day trip. Explore the countryside of Sutiaba, a friendly town which long predates León and is still home to many indigenous people. Make sure to observe the daily rural life along the unpaved road as you pass by cows, bulls, horse-drawn carriages and farmers cultivating corn.

After a short walk up a hill you reach an ancient sacred temple, where you learn about the religion of the pre-Columbian inhabitants and rites and cults of the Sutiabans. Enjoy the beautiful view of the hilly surroundings as you walk through lush grassland to arrive at the natural well where the indigenous people used to hold important ceremonies, including sacrificial offerings, mummifications and mating rituals.

On the way back to León visit the cathedral of Sutiaba where the history of the indigenous people intermingles with the history of Spanish colonialism. This very special tour is guided by an historian and member of the committee of the elders of the indigenous people of Sutiaba.

Duration: 4 hours
Start: 08.00 AM | 14.00 PM
End: 12.00 PM | 18.00 PM

Included:
Transport (overland)
Local guide/Historian
Entrance fees
Complementary drink

Cerro Negro
Climb and descend Nicaragua’s most active volcano

Climbing to the top of the Cerro Negro is an impressive experience, and the climb is surprisingly easy. This active volcano, the youngest in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most accessible in Nicaragua (altitude 675 m.), is totally covered with black sand and rock. From the top, you will have an incredible view of the surrounding area and the Maribios volcanic chain, however the descent is probably the most fun.
Once you have had your fill of the view from the top, descend the steep slope by foot, using the sandy volcanic material to control your speed. Hiking or sports shoes are strongly recommended. An interesting fact is that Frenchman Eric Barone broke the world speed record by descending the slope of the Cerro Negro by mountain bike!

 




Duration: 4-5 hours-

Start: 08.00 AM
End: 12.00 N

Included:
Pick-up at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4 vehicle)
Bilingual guide

Not Included: entrance fees ($5 per person)



San Cristóbal
Climb and descend Nicaragua’s highest and most challenging volcano

At 1745 meters (5,725 feet) above sea level , San Cristóbal is Nicaragua’s highest active volcano. Located in the northwest corner of the country, San Cristóbal has been throwing ash and sand for years, making this region one of the most fertile agricultural areas in Nicaragua. While the volcano was once covered in tropical forests, over the years the large quantities of gas and smoke emitted from the volcano have destroyed much of the vegetation.

San Cristóbal is a nearly symmetrical stratovolcano, rising in a distinctive cone shape. The southwest slope is the longest and the crater rim on that side rises 140 meters. The crater of this volcano is immense; measuring 500 x 600 meters in size.

Ascending San Cristóbal is one of the most difficult climbs in Nicaragua. The steep slopes make it difficult to reach the crater. It takes one entire day to go up and down, so you should be in very good condition before tackling this hike. While the hike is certainly a challenge, the views of the surrounding area and the experience of reaching the crater are surely rewarding



Recommendations:
+ Wear hiking shoes
+ Bring four liters of water per person
+ Sunscreen and insect repellent
+ Take a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, and a cap

Duration: 7-8 hrs climbing

Start: 06.00 AM
End: 18.30 PM

Included:
Pick-up/drop-off at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4)
Bilingual guide
Entrance Fees

Note:Minimum 2 people required. A box lunch and drinks can be included for $8 per person.




El Hoyo Volcano
Climb and descend one of Nicaragua’s most beautiful volcanoes.

At 1088 meters in altitude, El Hoyo is a volcanic complex consisting of several volcanic structures. El Hoyo Volcano is the most significant structure and has two inactive round craters and several fumaroles which lay claim to its past and present activity. Its last eruption took place in 1954, causing lots of damage to the surrounding areas. El Hoyo volcano is easily recognized by the huge hole located on the slope of the volcano.

El Hoyo is a moderate hike. You will begin from your hotel in Leon in a 4x4 vehicle through Nicaragua’s beautiful countryside passing through the Los Maribios, Nicaragua’s most impressive volcanic chain. Continue by horse to the base of the volcano and and finally to the top by foot. The climb offers impressive views of other volcanic formations and well as Lake Managua and the surrounding farm lands. This tour can also be done as a walking tour in about 5 to 6 hrs.



Recommendations:
+ Wear hiking shoes
+ Bring four liters of water per person
+ Sunscreen and insect repellent
+ Take a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, and a cap


Duration: 2 -3 hrs hiking

Start: 6.00 AM
End: 16.30 PM

Included:
Pick-up/drop-off at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4)
Bilingual guide
Lunch box
Drinks and water

Note: Minimum 2 people required




Momotombo (1-2 days)
Climb and descend Nicaragua’s most impressive volcano in a one or two day hike.

At 1297 meters above sea level, it’s hard to miss this majestic volcano located on the north side of Lake Managua. Both its altitude and perfect volcanic cone make Momotombo Nicaragua’s most impressive volcano. With its last eruption dating back to 1905, Momotombo is still considered to be quite active. Recently a geothermal plant was created at the foot of the volcano which produces about 10% of the country’s electrical power. From the top of Momotombo you will enjoy fantastic views of the crater, neighboring volcanoes, Lake Managua and on a clear day, you may even see as far as Lake Masaya and Ometepe Island.

Tours can be done in one or two days.

In one day: Depart from your hotel towards Momotombo. Take a 4x4 vehicle up to 450 meters before continuing on by foot. Enjoy the spectacular views from the top and take a tour around the crater. Start your descent and arrive at the bottom of the volcano before transferring back to your hotel. Alternatively, you can ascend and descend the entire volcano on foot, which adds about three to four hours to the trip.

Recommendations:
+ Wear hiking shoes
+ Bring four liters of water per person
+ Sunscreen and insect repellent
+ Take a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, and a cap



Duration: 5-6 hrs hiking, 3-4 more if you decide to ascend and descend the entire volcano by foot.
Start: 5:30 AM
End: 16:30 PM

Included:
Pick-up/drop-off at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4 vehicle)
Bilingual guide
Entrance Fees

Note: Minimum 2 people required


In two day: Depart from your hotel in Leon towards Momotombo Volcano. Start climbing the volcano at approximately 3pm. Arrive at the camping area (halfway) just in time to enjoy the sunset. Wake up early the next morning and continue on to the crater. Enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the volcano and a tour of the crater before making your descent.

Recommendations:
+ Wear hiking shoes
+ Bring four liters of water per person
+ Sunscreen and insect repellent
+ Take a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, and a cap



Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Start: 13:00 PM
End: 14:00 PM + 1 day

Included:
Pick-up/drop-off at hotel
Transportation (overland, 4x4 vehicle)
Bilingual guide
Entrance Fees
Meals
Camping Equipment

Note: Minimum 2 people required