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Customer Reviews

Average Rating: Red-stars

Total number of reviews: 1,843

Beneath The Volcanoes NI

Visiting: Nicaragua
Tour Duration 15 Days
  • Corn Island
  • Tropical beaches
  • Concepcion Volcano, Ometepe
  • Ometepe
  • Lake Nicaragua
  • Tour Style: Classic
  • Tour Type: Small Groups
  • Tour Pace: Busy
  • Tour Comfort: Standard
 

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6 reviews for this tour

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Tour notes

Each departure date has it's own dedicated tour note, detailing all you need to know about that tour. Whether you've already booked, or weighing up your options, please choose carefully the relevant itinerary for you.

We have the following different versions of the Beneath The Volcanoes tour available at present.

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7 , 06/01/14

Name

Jennifer Desideri

Tour Name

Beneath the Volcanos

Tour Code

NI

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

Visiting Masaya and Mombacho Volcanoes; the roller coaster of a boat ride across Lake Nicaragua; waking up to the amazing sounds of the jungle during our stay at the lodge in Bartola; the 12 passenger plane flight from Bluefields to Corn Island; the gorgeous turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Corn Island and taxi'ing around island children (whether you wanted to or not) in a rented golf cart.

Tour Leader Name

David

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Funny, articulate, intelligent, helpful and very passionate about his country and tourism.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

(1) Day 3/4 in Granada: Do the Iseletas tour the first day and the two volcanoes tour the second. In between the two volcanoes you stop at the Masaya market for 20/30 minutes. BUY YOUR SOUVENIRS THERE, as there are not any other real opportunities in the trip to buy any! (2) On Ometepe Island skip the island tour offered...it's not worth the time or money you could spend doing other things, such as: climbing the volcano or visiting a waterfall, neither of which were offered as options by our guide yet are out there to do. (3) Visit the Christ statue in San Juan del Sur - gorgeous views. (4) Bring lots of DEET, sunscreen, and WATERPROOFS, especially if you're doing the boat ride. Bring plastic bags from home to line your backpacks, don't bother with nice clothes (maybe one set for special dinners), you don't need hiking boots just good walking shoes, plus sandals and flip flops.

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

Expect lots of cold showers: I only had hot showers in Granada (3), Ometepe (2), and Juigalpa (1). That's 6 nights out of 14. Eventually I got used to it! Wonderful diverse trip: colonial cities, beaches, jungles, rivers, etc. Truly a trip for the adventurous and those who don't mind a lot of roughing it.

 
8 , 11/12/13

Name

Sandra Christen

Tour Name

Beneath The Volcanoes

Tour Code

NI

What Was The Highlight Or Most Memorable Moment Of Your Tour

The highlight & reason I chose this trip was standing on Masaya volcano. It’s amazing to look down a crater (even though it only lasted a few secs as when the wind blew our way, we spent the next few mins coughing & rubbing our eyes). I very much enjoyed traveling along the locals from El Rama to Bluefields. The best place we were staying at was in Bartola. I fell in love with their food, cat & really liked the forest walks (can still see that tarantula coming out of its hole). A last highlight was the flight from Big Corn Island to Managua. The plane that was supposed to take us to Managua hit a bird when landing on Big Corn Island. So, we had to take another (12-seat) plane back to Managua. The views were fantastic, looking down on most of the places we had visited on our 2-week journey!

Tour Leader Name

David

How Was Your Explore Tour Leader

Our tour leader David is a very optimistic, happy, chatty and most of all knowledgeable guy. I always felt in safe hands and he did his outmost to make me feel at home. He always made sure that all of us (even though we were only a group of 7) could do the optional activities they wanted to do and went out of his way to spend time with us, taking us to great restaurants when he could have enjoyed his free time.

What Tips Would You Give To Someone Else Booking This Tour

Nicaragua is a very safe and clean place. However, it remains a poor country. There are hardly any beggars or street vendors compared to other countries and I was surprised that after one "no", they went away. However, do not expect hot water in all hotels, get ready to get dirty on the forest walks (you'll be happy for the rubber boots which are provided) and wet on the boats. Bring a good cushion for the boat trip on lake Nicaragua (very bumpy) and if you tend to be sick on boats, it would be wise to bring tablets or not book this trip at all (involves a lot of traveling by boat).

Do You Have Anything Else To Add

The holiday was excellent, very well organised and it fulfilled all my criteria in terms of what we saw (tour notes) etc. The only reason why I would give it an overall rating of "good" is, that I expected Nicaragua to be a tick "wilder" and "unexplored". We saw many individual tourists on our tour and I felt it is a country one can also go to in a group of friends without a local guide. But one should definitely go there and see it. I would also recommend Explore. The organisation from the booking till the end of the tour was great.

 
8 Glennis Gunn, 02/01/13

What was the highlight or most memorable moment of your tour?

Horse drawn taxis in Grenada were a joy to see, best of all was Bartola

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Our Response

Our Operations Manager has been made aware of your comments regarding the accommodation on Corn Island. Our local agent will be investigating this while we monitor further feedback. We will be able to then identify if the problems you experienced were isolated or whether there has been a drop in standards at this hotel. We appreciate you letting us know so we are able look into this issue.

 
0 J R Chapman, 03/04/12
A very interesting trip; lots of variety from volcanoes to cities to backwater villages and sea.  Nicaragua is pleasantly underdeveloped for tourism, but our group of 18 was too large and at times we were split between 2 hotels.  Some accommodation was basic, with lots of cold showers, though in the same hotel other members of the party faired better with hot water and big rooms.   We got wetter on the boat trips, especially the crossing of Lake Nicaragua, (protect your passport and currency in polythene) than we did from the few brief showers.  Take lots of Deet, and sunblock, but walking boots AND trainers weren't both needed as suggested in the itinerary.  Walking sandals were the best option for vitually all days.  Wellies were available at Bartola, adequate unless you have tiny or huge feet. Just take socks to pad them out. Though dollars were a valid currency everywhere, the exchange kiosk @ Managua airport will change sterling, avoiding double commission charge.  ATMs gave dollars or local cordoba, and change in the country is always given in cordobas, which you need for market purchases.  A good trip if you don't mind roughing it a bit; no dressy clothes needed.  Not much fitness required as walking distances not an option.  Highlights of the holiday were looking down into the crater of a volcano, the peace and tranquility of Bartola, and relaxing on Corn Island at the end. All in all value for money and an experience not to be missed.
 
0 Eric Coates, 23/12/10
Nicaragua is well worth visiting for its wonderful variety of scenery, both natural and man-made. Any country with a lake big enough to contain an island (Ometepe) with two 5,000ft volcanoes as well as a over a hundred other islands is bound to be interesting and Nicaragua’s amazing history has provided a lot to see and learn about. Although my visit was in the low (rainy season) the weather did not interfere with enjoyment as showers, although sometimes quite heavy, rarely lasted more than half an hour and many days were entirely dry. Well in the Tropics, it is, of course, always very warm and mostly humid. So don’t make the mistake of taking unnecessary clothing or even light clothing that will not dry relatively quickly as the tour moves rapidly from one hotel or lodge to the next. The walking is easy except for the jungle trails at Bartola which are very muddy and if your feet, like mine, are too big for any of the gum boots provided you will destroy your hiking boots. For this reason persons of restricted mobility through age or injury would be advised not to undertake these trails but could then miss out on toucan, cayman and monkey sightings. Highlights of the tour are three days in beautiful Granada on Lake Nicaragua. Not to be missed are the visits to the active Masaya volcano and the truck ride to the summit of Mombacho. Then to the Island of Ometepe in the lake. We found the lake to be ideal for swimming and kayaking at Santa Cruz (although not mentioned as an option in the itinerary) was superb. The cheeky blue jays rely on their handsome and exotic appearance to get away with stealing breakfast from under your nose, but some eventually lose patience and try, unsuccessfully, to shoo them away.  Only a brief evening in San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast but enough for a quick swim and a stroll around this old world holiday venue for Nicaraguans (before it becomes another Cancun or Acapulco). By now the trip has been so fascinating and varied that it feels like you’ve been away for a month but there is still a week to come with what many will find to be the most interesting part. Next is the trip across the lake (via a quick look at the Solentiname islands) to San Carlos at the point whera the enormous Rio San Juan leaves the lake on its way to the Caribbean sea. We head for quaint riverside El Castillo where we spend a night and then the Indio Maiz Reserve at Bartola where we spend two. After twoe days in the jungle (mosquito nets provided but the insects were not too troublesome) we came back up the river and drove from San Carlos the 120 miles to Juigalpa through the cattle rearing Chontales region to the East of the lake. After a night in a reasonable hotel with welcome modern showering facilities we drove to a steamily hot town of El Rama, half way to the coast and Bluefields. I clocked our 50 mile boat ride on the Rio Escondido at up to 34 mph. Quite exhilarating, especially when going around bends and over the wake of other speed merchants. Luckily there was only a very short shower as protection in this uncovered boat was by means of a huge plastic sheet covering all 20 occupants. From Bluefields in an ATR 42 twin turbo prop we flew the 50 miles to Corn Island. For two days of relaxation in a hotel right on the beach. Although I didn’t go on the snorkelling trip, most did and this turned out to be unsuccessful more because of unsuitable boats and lack of equipment than the slightly rough sea.  Then back to Managua and the picturesque but rather austere Hotel Bolonio.ready for a 5am start to get to the airport for the flights home.  A disappointment regarding the tour’s arrangement is that by the time we had left San Juan del Sur after the first week we had no further opportunity to visit any markets or shops where we could buy genuine Nicaraguan products to bring home. Had we known this we would have done all such shopping in Masaya Market on the third day.  In fact the only chance to buy rum or coffee at shop (rather than airport) prices was a hurried 10 minute visit to a supermarket on the last evening. It was generally considered that the long slow drive from San Carlos to Juigalpa was a waste of a day but this should improve for future tours as the road is being upgraded from a muddy track with rickety wooden bridges to quite a decent standard judging by the completed sections. (NI - 16th October 2010)
 
0 Jennifer Crossley, 22/09/10
This was the first Explore trip I'd been on, and the first tour I'd ever been on, and the first time I'd been to Central America, so I really had very little idea of what to expect! We chose this tour specifically because it promised an exotic location with culture, rainforests and beautiful beaches - and it didn't disappoint in the slightest. Each new destination on the tour felt completely different to the previous places we'd been. Friends keep asking me what the best bits of the holiday were and I'm at a loss - there are just too many to choose from. Surfing in Rio de San Juan, then watching the sun set over the bay, snorkeling through corals on Little Corn island, zip lining through cloud forest near Granada, kayaking through the islettas of Lake Nicaragua; these were fantastic experiences, but for me, the most exciting thing about the tour was how adventurous we all felt. To reach Bluefields, the town with the airport you use to get to Big Corn Island, you have to travel by motor boat. If it's bad weather, the rain hits you hard and fast and there's no roof. Luckily, the boat drivers have a solution - a large piece of black plastic sheeting that all the passengers have to hold over their heads! Sheltering under this large piece of plastic that isn't quite big enough to keep all the rain out felt like we were all a team; passengers kept exchanging grins and it looked like most people were enjoying the experience, really. There were so many experiences like this, that weren't part of the planned tour in the same way that things like the kayaking or ziplining were, but for me they made the trip what it was. The tour was packed with amazing sights and activities and all you needed was the energy to do them. Having said that, once you reached the tour destinations it was all fairly flexible, so if you feel you needed half a day to relax or have some quiet time, that wasn't a problem. I would definitely travel with a tour group again as it was such a pleasure to meet new people who became new friends; everyone had a similar and positive outlook to new experiences. I would definitely return to Nicaragua too. The most important things to pack are high factor sunscreen, DEET insect repellent and plenty of money for tips. I don't know whether it was the fact it was my first 'big trip' or the fact it was Nicaragua, but this country felt very special (and more experienced travellers on the tour expressed similar feelings). To say that the tourist industry is so new and underdeveloped, we stayed in exceptionally comfortable accommodation and yet felt that we had experienced some of the 'real' Nicaragua too. I could barely place it on a map before booking the holiday but it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. Now the travel bug has bitten, I'm planning my next adventure for next year! (NI- 23rd July 2010)
 
 
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