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Real Affordable Costa Rica 2014

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Itinerary : San José Pacific Coast

Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Nicaragua's Colonial Cities & Volcanic Landscapes

Begin your Central American discoveries in Nicaragua, whose strong cultural legacy is re-emerging following decades of dictatorship. Amid landscapes encompassing volcanic mountains, colonial cities, agricultural villages, and Lake Nicaragua, now is the time to meet proud Nicaraguans in a country that has only recently opened its doors to travelers.

It's Included:
Airfare from Managua to San José, Costa Rica
Accommodations for 1 night in Managua and 4 nights in Granada
11 meals—5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners
8 small group activities
Services of an expert OAT Trip Leader who speaks English and the native language
All transfers
    • Accommodations:

    Today you fly from the U.S. to Managua. An OAT representative meets you at the airport and will help you transfer to the hotel.

  • After breakfast, we discover Nicaragua’s capital, Managua. Our tour will take us to the Tiscapa Historical Park, where former dictator Anastasio Somoza had his house and headquarters on a hilltop with a magnificent view of the city of Managua. We’ll also see the National Palace and the National Cathedral.

    We have lunch at a local restaurant in Managua, then depart for Granada. En route, we’ll make a stop at Fortaleza Coyotepe, a fortress where Nicaraguans battled U.S. Marines in 1912. When we arrive in Granada, we’ll check in to our hotel and take an orientation walk to learn more about this elegant city, which is the oldest in Nicaragua. This evening, we'll enjoy dinner at our hotel.

  • This morning, we take a walking tour that reveals the colonial splendor of Granada. This was one of the first Spanish cities in Latin America, founded in 1524. As we stroll along Granada's cobblestone streets, we'll unveil the city's rich history—from its origins as an opulent piece of the Spanish empire to its shimmering present as one of Nicaragua's loveliest cities.

    Afterwards, lunch is on your own and the early afternoon is free to relax or make your own discoveries. Later in the afternoon, we’ll head to Lake Nicaragua, which is also called Lago Cocibolca. This is the tenth-largest body of fresh water in the world, and we’ll cruise for about 1.5 hours along its islet-dotted waters. This is a great chance to see an array of aquatic birds and some other wildlife. Some of the most unusual fish in the world evolved in this lake, including the sweet water bull shark, a voracious predator that roams between the ocean waters of the Caribbean and the lake’s fresh waters. Afterwards, we return to our hotel, then have dinner at a local restaurant in Granada.

  • This morning we’ll get an overview of the city of Masaya as we drive through it, then explore the volcanic landscapes and forested beauty of Masaya Volcano National Park. We’ll visit active and inactive craters on the 2,083-foot-high volcano. Then we’ll learn about this area’s geology at the largest museum devoted to vulcanology in Central America, which is located in the park.

    From the park, we return to the city of Masaya and visit the workshops of some local craftspeople. Then we continue on to the town of Catarina, one of the pueblos blancos (white towns)—so called because their buildings were once all whitewashed with quicklime. Here we’ll  stop at a viewpoint on Catarina Lake (Lago Apoyo)—a blue-green body of water that fills the largest and deepest volcanic caldera in Nicaragua. We’ll have an included lunch at a local restaurant in Catarina.

    In the afternoon, we’ll visit artisans' workshops in Catarina, where local people make bamboo baskets and furniture. Afterwards, we return to our hotel in Granada. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll visit the Nicaragua Libre Farming Cooperative to get a firsthand sense of how Nicaraguan farmers live and work. We’ll meet members of the co-op, tour the facilities, and see how some local handcrafts are made from seeds grown here. Then we’ll enjoy a lunch of traditional Nicaraguan specialties at the farming cooperative. Afterwards, we return to our hotel in Granada. In the afternoon, enjoy free time to make your own discoveries. We’ll have dinner at a local restaurant in Granada this evening.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, we’ll enjoy the morning at leisure, with time to have lunch on our own in Granada. Then, we'll fly to San José to begin our Real Affordable Costa Rica adventure.