Price: $2495 per person, based on double occupancy for
10 days / 11 nights. 8 participants max

 Nicaragua – “A Paddle Back in Time”

Imagine Costa Rica 50 years ago… no hustle and bustle where we travel and have a very authentic experience.  As we travel along rarely visited tributaries of the historical Rio San Juan, we will encounter locals in dugout canoes, families washing clothes, bathing and fishing along its banks. We’ll visit a 17th century fort that protected Spain’s interests from marauding “Pirates of the Caribbean” such as Sir Francis Drake! Tourist infrastructure is very simple, but comfortable. Roads, when we  occasionally use them are bumpy.  Birds, wildlife and monkeys are everywhere!  You will hear the deep-throated roars of howler monkeys virtually every day!

Nicaragua is emerging as the “new destination” in Central America.  Long in the shadow of the more prosperous and developed Costa Rica, Nicaragua also endured years of economic and political repression. The country has been at peace for almost 20 years, and the people of Nicaragua.

This trip is led by Larry Laba and Fofo Campos-Montero. In the fall of 2010, Larry, Fofo and two other fellow adventurers set out to explore the southern a part of the largest country in Central America. Besides being steeped in the history of the Spanish Main and conquistadors of the 17th century, we found a country very much at peace, with wonderful, open people, and a culture much different from its neighbor, Costa Rica, to the south.

Nicaragua has very little tourist infrastructure. Lodgings are simple yet comfortable, hot water is rare and roads, where they exist, are bumpy.  It is what Costa Rica must have been like 50 years ago, or parts of the U.S. 100 or more years ago.  Birds, wildlife, butterflies are everywhere!  You will hear deep-throated roars of howler monkeys virtually everyday,  As usual, we strive to offer the most comfort and still provide you with an authentic experience of the country.

This price includes all lodging (first and last night hotel near the San Jose Int’l Airport included), all meals except where noted, all transfers, immigration’s and customs fees, entrance fees.

56 el castillo kids3Day 1: You must arrive no later than the evening prior to departure on Day 1. An early morning start begins with a goal of reaching our final destination, a world apart! The mini-bus arrives loaded w/ inflatable SOAR canoes and river gear.  We load our personal luggage into the vehicle, and we head north to the small riverside town of Los Chiles, Costa Rica.  At Los Chiles, we clear immigration from Costa Rica, and board our private “lancha” (a riverboat taxi) that will take us on a fascinating ride down the Rio Frio to easternmost Lago de Nicaragua, and the town of San Carlos, Nicaragua.The group and our gear must clear customs in San Carlos, and then we take another lancha down the Rio San Juan to our riverside jungle lodge. This amazing place, perched under the jungle canopy right at the river’s edge, will be our home for 3 unforgettable nights, and our base for exploration of the Rio San Juan and several tributaries. (B,L,D)

Day 2: Transporting SOAR canoes via lancha and Land Rover to a remote put-in on the Rio Sabalos, a tributary of the Rio San Juan, we float and explore the wonderful rio, as we paddle back to the lodge. (B,L,D) 


Day 3: Transporting SOAR canoes via lancha and Land Rover, we float and explore the Rio Santa Cruz, another tributary of the Rio San Juan. Depending on where we launch our canoes, we may encounter some easily portaged Class II+ rapids early on in our descent.  After that, it is all flat water with current most of the way.  On and off the river, you will see and experience a part of Nicaragua where few, if any, gringos have been before.(B,L,D)

IMGP0843Day 4: 
This morning we re-inflate our SOARs right at the Lodge, bid farewell to the delightful staff, and paddle downstream on the wide and beautiful—and historically significant– Rio San Juan to the small riverside town of El Castillo.  We will eat lunch (river shrimp are a specialty here!!), visit the 17th century Spanish fort, and spend the night in a local inn where caimans and turtles can be easily seen from the front veranda. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Today is a long, exciting day of transition. We board an early morning public lancha (think “river bus”) with all our gear and head upstream back to San Carlos.  After lunch, we will board a large, reliable public ferry for an 11-hour ride to Ometepe, the largest island in the largest lake in Central America. Arrival time in Ometepe is scheduled for approximately 1 am.  We will be met by vans and transported to our hotel. (B,L)

Day 6: After our late arrival, we will have a late morning.  We will orient ourselves on Isla de Ometepe, a hundred-square mile magical island—still off-the-beaten-path– with pristine forests, archaeological treasure troves, wildlife, and two majestic volcanoes- one of which, mile-high Volcan Concepcion, is still active.  We will explore an old shade coffee plantation, examine ancient petroglyphs, and feel the power of the native legends of Ometepe. (B,L,D) sm food

Day 7: Today we paddle across a small bay with breathtaking views in search of one of the shortest rivers in the world: the Rio Istian, which flows through a small strip of land between the soaring volcanoes!  Birds and caiman abound here.  We will stay as long as necessary exploring the rio.  Once we emerge back onto Lago de Nicaragua- the same lake that the Spanish conquerors called a ‘fresh water sea’ because of its sheer size- we paddle down the coast to the small village of Merida.  The night will be spent in a comfortable lodge overlooking the lake where brilliant sunsets and sunrises are accompanied by the roars of howler monkeys.(B,L,D)

flag_of_nicaraguaDay 8: After a hearty breakfast, we board our lakeside SOARs for a paddle, first to Monkey Island (and, yes, there are two species of monkeys on the tiny islands), and then along the coast to San Ramon.  We deflate our SOARs for the last time on this trip, and hike to the San Ramon waterfall, Ometepe’s highest. Hiking difficulty is moderate, about 4 hrs round trip.  We lunch at a local “comedor” and then hike back to our lodging. (B,L,D)

Day 9: Our driver will take us to the far side of Volcan Concepcion and the port village of Moyogalpa.  We climb aboard a ferry, and enjoy the stunning views of Ometepe during the one hour boat ride back to the Nicaraguan mainland.  We will be met by a local transport company who will take us to the Nicaraguan border, and assist us with exit procedures.  We will then cross into Costa Rica territory, where we will be met by our transportation.After a quick lunch break back in “civilization”, we stop in the early afternoon at a hot springs resort on the slopes of the Volcan Miravailles for a relaxing afternoon and evening. Here, we will have our “farewell” dinner, basking in the knowledge that we have completed an adventurous trip that few adventurers have done before! (B,L,D) sm sunset

Day 10: All good things must come to an end, and this will be our final day. We drive back to San Jose, making several optional stops along the way.  Anyone needing to leave that day can book a late afternoon flight.  We will stay our final night at the same hotel where we met on Night 1, thinking back on all that we have witnessed and accomplished as we paddled back in time! (B,L)

Early Bird Reservations:
120 days prior to departure: $2345 pp save $150
90 days prior to departure: $2395 pp save $100
60 days prior to departure $2425 pp save $75

Accommodations: Rain forest lodges and country inns + first and last nights’ hotels.
Meals: Included except where noted.
Transportation: Touring Coaster, Private and public water transportation, SOAR canoes.
Activities: Flat water and moving current paddling on three rivers and two lake paddles.  Hiking, Wildlife, Birding, Cultural discovery, Hot springs and more.
Guides: Full time English speaking River guide / Naturalist at all times. Site specific guides when needed.