"A challenging and exhilarating kayaking tour along the San Juan River in Nicaragua"
Fancy an alternative way to explore the rich jungles of Nicaragua? If you’re a keen explorer (and have strong arms!) then this epic kayaking adventure down one of the greatest rivers of the Americas is for you. This 10-day tour gives you the chance to explore colonial cities, meet indigenous villagers and hike in the rainforest, on top of a 5-day kayaking extravaganza through the forest. Along the way you’ll see crocodiles, sloths, caiman and all sorts of exotic birds, and sleep in unique and exciting locations – from biological research centres turned hostels to simply camping out in the wild.
Along the way, you’ll drift through forests so impenetrable that exploring them on foot is practically impossible, visit ancient fortresses and meet indigenous villagers from deep in the jungle. With about 6 hours of kayaking a day, covering 100 miles on the water, this is not a tour for the faint hearted, and you’ll need to be in good physical shape to get the best from the experience. If you’ve always wanted to see animals in the wild but baulk at the idea of sitting through long, dull car journeys, then this tour offers the best of both worlds with a unique journey into the remote Nicaraguan jungle.
Pioneer Expeditions works in partnership with a local company in Nicaragua that has received recognition and diplomas for their commitment to sustainability in the region through innovative programs. They are also linked to the creators of Bosawas Maps: city maps that highlight local sustainable projects in the areas of wildlife, social development and community projects.
Pioneer Expeditions is also committed to using hotels and lodges that actively work to support sustainable tourism. For example, the Esquina del Lago Hotel works with indigenous people to set up community projects and there are currently 10 local families who live entirely from these programs. An eco-lodge where you’ll stay, Sabalos Lodge, supports four much-needed health centres in rural areas and works alongside the Rainforest Alliance.
Arrival: You’ll be met upon your arrival in Managua and transferred to a hotel in Granada, about 30 miles away. Granada is a beautiful city filled with colorful Spanish architecture and plenty of restaurants and bars.
Lake Nicaragua: After having settled in, it’s time to explore the historic centre of the city on a horse-drawn carriage. There’s a few stop offs at museums, churches, charming courtyards and galleries, before heading to Lake Nicaragua for a boat trip to explore small volcanic islands. Relax on one of the islands with a complimentary drink and take a dip in the pool. For the remainder of the day you are free to explore as you please.
Jungle Bound: After city living, it’s time to head to the jungle. Set off to San Carlos, from where you’ll take a boat to an eco-lodge. It’s a bird watchers paradise, with plenty of exotic birds, as well as reptiles and other creatures to see. Chill out in a hammock next to your cabin or head off on a hike through the natural reserve before dinner at the restaurant, where they serve fish freshly caught from the river.
San Juan River: A long river trip awaits, as you head off 100 miles down the San Juan river, which is home to caimans, crocodiles and turtles. Have lunch at El Castillo, an ancient Spanish fort, before continuing your river journey. Keep looking up for exotic birds, butterflies and monkeys, as well as some stunning orchids and other flowers. Spend the night at a biological research station that doubles up as a hostel.
Full Day On the Water: Another day on the water is ahead, as you will kayak along the river to reach Boca San Carlos. This 30-mile trip takes you through dense jungle, and you can see Nicaragua on one side and Costa Rica on the other! Sunbathing crocodiles and swinging monkeys will keep you company along the way before you reach camp.
Animal Sightings: Better hope your arms aren’t tired, as another day navigating the waters awaits you. Head towards the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve, which is the best-preserved natural reserve in the country and home to toucans, pumas, sloths, monkeys and manatees. It’s almost impossible to explore on foot, so travelling by boat is the best way to catch a glimpse of this pristine jungle. As the area is so untouched there are no lodges to stay in, so you’ll set up camp or maybe stay at a rangers station – listen out to the sounds of the forest.
Kayaking On: You’re sure to be woken by bird song in the jungle after an exhilarating night in the wild. Paddle off in the direction of El Howe, an indigenous village. Have dinner with the locals and camp with the community, who used to live deep in the forest known as the Rama tribe.
Reaching the Caribbean Sea: It’s the final stretch of river journey today as you kayak down the remainder of the San Juan River. The landscape will transform before your eyes, changing from thick jungle to lowlands with palm trees as the river slows before reaching the Caribbean Sea. Accommodation is a little different here, as you’ll spend the night in a 1970’s luxury Lodge.
Visit Grey Town: In the morning you’ll cross the bay to visit the ruins of Grey Town, which was once a bustling British Caribbean outpost. In the afternoon, take a domestic flight back to Managua, where you’ll be transferred to the hotel.
Home Time: Sadly, the tour has come to an end and it’s time to be transferred back to the airport. Unless, of course, you fancy relaxing after such an adventure, in which case you can add on a beach extension for an extra cost.
- The price shown is a 'from' price per person
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- Most meals
- Accommodation in hotel, lodges and camping as mentioned or similar
- Domestic flights
- All transfers
- Public river transport San Carlos – Sabalos
- Tours as mentioned with services of English speaking guide during guided tours
- Local English speaking guide Rio San Juan
- Camping gear
- VAT / taxes
- International flights
- Immigration fees
- Personal expenses
- Optional tours/activities
- Tips for porters
- Any other services or activities not mentioned in inclusions - if in doubt, click 'Ask a Question' to speak to the operator directly!