During this holiday to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, you’ll experience the best of both worlds. Your adventure begins in Costa Rica where you will quickly understand that its beautiful nature combined with tasty food and friendly locals make the country such a unique travel destination. Travelling on to Nicaragua will make you more aware of Central America’s history and culture. You will learn more about the country’s colonial past, but certainly also get a better insight into indigenous traditions, that are also still visible and certainly will surprise you.
Whoever says Costa Rica says nature. Nowhere else will you find so many national parks and flora and fauna. Although you will encounter a lot of (untouched) jungle along the way, Costa Rica is mountainous and has many microclimates. No destination is, therefore, the same and you will certainly not be bored. While walking, cycling, rafting or floating over the treetops you will experience what makes Costa Rica such a unique holiday destination.
Nicaragua is an undiscovered gem in Central America. The country has a turbulent history, but the beautiful colonial cities, the friendly people and the authentic atmosphere make it perhaps the most interesting destination in the region. You can explore Nicaragua on your own and apart from an impressive nature, you can also get to know the (colonial) past and people who are determined to realize a better future for themselves and their children.
Your tour in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua starts in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Although the city itself extends far into the Central Valley, the city centre is compact and pleasantly busy during the day.
You will find many small restaurants where you can taste the typical “gallo pinto” and covered markets full of exotic fruits and vegetables. In the evening we recommend having dinner in the so-called “calle gastronomico” or gastronomic street, a nice neighbourhood in Barrio Escalante full of trendy restaurants and bars.
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui was originally a small village along the Sarapiqui river. Now the region is much more developed and there’s a lot to do and discover. However, you do not find any mass tourism here.
Do you like a little adventure? Then go rafting on the river!
In addition, you will find a lot of agricultural production around Puerto Viejo, so it’s a great place to learn how chocolate is made, how organic pineapples grow and much more.
If you still have the energy to go out in the evening, book a guided night walk and discover how much the jungle is alive after dark.
The Maquenque nature reserve has only been created recently and it is really an undiscovered gem in the north of Costa Rica.
You stay here in the middle of the jungle and enjoy the hospitality of the Costa Rican Artavia family, who, after years of cattle breeding in the area, have given their land back to nature and built a fantastic ecolodge.
In the jungle around the lodge, you can spot toucans and the increasingly rare great green macaw. You can also book guided boat trips and a night walk on the premises of the lodge. Furthermore, if you want to explore the lagoon around the lodge, kayaks are ready for guests to use for free.
Not far from the Tenorio volcano and the intense blue river Rio Celeste, you find the charming Costa Rican village of Bijagua.
Around this little town there is a lot to do, you can go hiking to the river, relax in natural hotsprings and go rafting or horseback riding. With a bit of luck you can spot tapirs, toucans and sloths in the primary rain forest around Bijagua.
Back in the village your culinairy your taste buds will be pampered with local specialities such as tilapia and homemade, fresh cheese.
The northern province of Guanacaste is known for its vast, deserted beaches and charming little beach towns.
You will stay in a charming hotel in the village of Junquillal and the Dutch owners will do everything to make your stay as pleasant as possible. They can also tell you more about the activities in and around their small village. If you want something different than the beach, you can visit the nearby pottery village of Guatil and see how age-old pottery techniques are still used today.
Your next destination is near the border with Nicaragua. Your rental car is being returned near the town of La Cruz and you will be picked up by the owners of the eco-lodge. They will drive the last kilometres to the lodge with their 4×4, a great way to arrive at a great place!
In Los Andes, you have a wonderful view from the terrace of your bungalow onto the perfect cone-shaped volcanoes of Concepción and Maderas on the island of Ometepe located in the large lake of Nicaragua.
On foot or on horseback you can explore the rainforest, take a refreshing dive in waterfalls or the nearby lake. On the premises of the lodge, there’s a garden with many fruit trees. The Belgian owners can tell you everything about what grows in nature and are edible. The meals are prepared with mainly locally grown products.
With only 2 comfortable bungalows and great cuisine, this lodge is the perfect place to completely unwind in a familiar atmosphere.
Today you’ll cross the border with Nicaragua. From Los Andes you will travel to the border at Peñas Blancas, where you cross the border on foot. After all the formalities, a private shuttle is waiting for you on the other side.
Your next destination is the coastal town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua’s favourite beach destination for locals and foreigners alike because of its beautiful crescent-shaped bay. The surrounding beaches are also great surf spots.
In the centre along the boulevard and the beach, you will find nice bars and restaurants. You can take surfing lessons or take a nice walk on the beach. You can also hike to the large Christ statue, just north of the village, with a beautiful view of the bay. South of San Juan you will find the beautiful Playa el Coco beach, that is also an important breeding ground for turtles. Between July and February, you can watch them come ashore to nest, a truly unique experience.
Historically, Granada has always been one of the most important cities of Nicaragua. It has a rich colonial history that is clearly reflected in its architecture and that has been well preserved.
The city centre can easily be explored on foot or by bicycle and if you want to delve deeper into history, a guided walk is recommended. Climb the Iglesia la Merced for a beautiful view of the city, relax on a bench in the Parque Central and visit the large daily market where you will find a multitude of exotic fruits and vegetables.
In the evening you can have a nice meal on one of the terraces in the city. Do you want to get out of town? Then hire a boat to tour “Las Isletas”, the small, often uninhabited islands in Lake Nicaragua. The nearby village of Masaya and its volcano are also definitely worth a visit.
Laguna de Apoyo is a beautiful crater lake located in a nature reserve, near the Nicaraguan cities of Granada and Masaya. You spend the night in a charming little hotel on the shores of the lake and from there you are all set the explore the area.
Your day will undoubtedly start with a refreshing dip in the lake and near the hotel, you can go hiking, kayaking or even paragliding. Laguna de Apoyo is very central and you can make nice day tours to Masaya where you can shop local souvenirs at the market in the town centre. Furthermore, you can climb the volcano Masaya or visit the so-called “pueblos blancos” the white villages. From the observatory in the village of Catarina, you have a beautiful view over the Laguna.
Laguna de Apoyo is your last destination of this journey. From Managua, you’ll fly back home again.
In Bijagua we have taken a guide (Marlon Calderon Brenes) to hopefully spot a Tapir. He took us to a farmer where tapirs are regularly spotted on his estate. After a rainy walk through the bushes, etc. we were able to spot one from very close!
We also went to Rio Celeste. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful and you just have to see it. The walk there is quite tiring, so take your time.
We just wanted to let you know from Los Andes that we enjoying ourselves greatly at the moment. We both feel completely at home and the food is really excellent. The friendly and modest cook can cook incredibly well.
What a wonderful trip we had! Each lodge was a great experience to us, we stayed at a wide variety of amazing places, from a cabin in the jungle to a luxury lodge. Nicaragua was especially cool, especially because it is still so pure. We also enjoyed all the friendly people we met. It is a shame that we hardly speak any Spanish ourselves!
In Granada we stayed at a great hotel, which was conveniently located in the city center. A city walk is definitely recommended and do climb the cathedral tower for a nice view of the city. In Granada we also visited a hammock company that also gives disabled people jobs, a nice initiative! We also visited the still active Masaya volcano and liked the town’s liveliness, colors and the local market.
The lodge in Boca Tapada is really a beautiful place. You can’t get closer to nature. We have walked through the rainforest with a guide and seen many animals, especially birds. The boat tour to the border with Nicaragua was also a lot of fun and we spotted crocodiles! It is highly recommended to combine Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 1 holiday!
We really liked our hotel in Granada. The volcano trip to Masaya is also highly recommended, we saw lava and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
In Junquillal it was very dry and hot and therefore the natural surroundings were completely different here. We enjoyed being on a turtle watch in the evening and really liked our hotel. The food and conversations were equally great.
In Sarapiqui, we had two nice rooms next to each other, and very much enjoyed the chocolate tour elaborated by the amiable Belgian owner.
During this trip, you visit two different countries, which both have their own currency. In Costa Rica, you pay with the Colon, in Nicaragua with the Córdoba. Be prepared and know the actual value of these currencies before you go on holiday, so you know what you are spending or are receiving when changing money or making payments.Ask more info or book this trip here