Tuck Class of 2018 International Adventures: Nicaragua
August, 2016
Itinerary Navigation
Before You Go
Country Overview
Itinerary Details
Cost and What's Included

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Before you g o...

Suggested Packing List:

On this trip to Nicaragua, you will visit mountains, beaches, colonial cities, and lakes. You should be prepared for temperatures that range from 64 F (18 C) to 94 F (35 C).

In the Pacific Area (where you will be), there are frequent / brief showers during the rainy season (May - October); these mainly occur in the afternoon or later at night.

Please refer to the following list as a guideline for what to bring (but please adjust based on your own preferences)
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Good walking shoes or hiking shoes / boots
  • Dry shoes for evenings
  • Flip flops or sandals
  • Underclothes and socks
  • At least 2 pair of long pants for field days
  • At least 2 pairs of comfortable shorts for down-time and evenings
  • Short-sleeved t-shirts
  • Light weight rain jacket or poncho
  • Sun hat
  • Light jacket or windbreaker

Try to bring enough of each item to last at least half the trip, there are laundry services (for a fee) at Plaza Colon in Granada and Pelican Eyes in San Juan del Sur. That said - your itinerary is quite full, so you may be better off planning to pack enough to last you for the trip.


In addition, please consider bringing the following:

  • Camera, batteries (and film if applicable)
  • Flashlight (for Nicaragua Libre stay)
  • Insect repellant
  • Earplugs for light sleepers
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses (if applicable)
  • Personal medications (if applicable)

Note - this list is not comprehensive; it is meant to be a guideline to help you prepare for the trip appropriately. 

Visas and Vaccinations:

It is the responsibility of all travelers to ensure that proper travel documentation is in place. All countries require a valid passport (with at least 6 months' validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for up-to-date visa requirements. (American residents, click here for the State Department's latest outline of travel documentation requirements).

Travelers should consult a family physician or your local travel clinic for up-to-date health information and any requirements for vaccines. More information can be obtained from the ISTM by clicking here. Or, contact your country's Health or Foreign Affairs department.

Medical and Travel Insurance:

Proof of out-of-country medical insurance is included in your Dartmouth College medical plan. Be sure to bring whatever documentation / contact numbers are required for your Dartmouth medical plan should you need medical assistance in Nicaragua, so you can ensure the insurance coverage is properly activated.

Terraficionados also recommends Cancellation & Interruption insurance to protect your travel investment.

Terraficionados Travel Society & Journeymakers (founded and operated by Chris Clark, T'03) is pleased to be working with the Tuck MBA program office once again to provide a pre-term International Adventure program for the incoming class of T'18s!

The goal for these trips is three-fold:
  • Provide a meaningful international travel experience where incoming Tuckies can bond deeply with each other before embarking on their 2 year journey at Tuck
  • Combine a mix of 'touring', active content, and local community immersion to provide a well rounded perspective on the destination 
  • Have fun!!   
We have been working with Tuck to offer these international adventures for incoming Tuckies for several years now. We are thrilled that students who have participated in these programs in the past have had a wonderful experience, and we've solicited their feedback on how to make the experience even better! This feedback is ingrained in 2016 trip offering, and we expect these to be the best trips yet!

Please read on for details about the T'18 International Adventure Trip in Nicaragua...
Nicaragua Overview

Nicaragua is known as the 'Land of Lakes and Volcanoes'. It is a country of striking natural beauty - smoking cinder cone volcanoes rising up from silvery pure lakes to pierce the sky; lush tropical cloud forests; beautiful beaches and epic surf breaks. It is also steeped in rich culture filled with folklore, music, religious traditions, and deeply influenced by European customs. The cities of Leon and Granada offer a tremendous window into the region's past as a Spanish colony. The coastal town of San Juan del Sur is a vibrant and hopping surf community with access to the best beaches in Nicaragua. This is a place filled with treasures for the traveler, and is really just coming into it's own as a tourist destination in the wake of the civil war that gripped it for so long.


The T'18 International Adventure in Nicaragua features a 11 day / 10 night itinerary which takes you to Leon, Granada, Ometepe Island, and San Juan del Sur (among other places); provides an opportunity to live, work, and learn in the Nicaragua Libre Community; and is infused with a wide range of experiences - brought to life by local guides - that will give you a great dose of all that this amazing country has to offer.
Itinerary details (meals included in brackets)

August 6: Arrival in Managua --> Leon. Arrive in Leon at anytime today. You will be met at the airport and will have a private guided transfer to Leon (along with some of your fellow Tuckies).   


August 7 (Breakfast, Lunch): Leon. This morning you will get off to an early start. 7am departure for nearby Cerro Negro Volcano - the youngest volcano in Central America at only 160 years old. You will take about an hour to hike to the top of the volcano, trek and explore the crater, then sandboard back down! A boxed lunch will be provided. The afternoon will feature a private tour of Leon. Leon was founded in the year 1524 next to Lake Xolotlan and the active Momotombo volcano. There were important indigenous towns in the region; originally Leon was built next to a town known as Imabite but in the year 1610 it was move to its current location after the original settlement was destroyed by a series of eruptions. Today the city is known as the 'Central American Pompeii', as much of the original town was preserved under the volcanic ash. During your tour you will see both the 'old' and the 'new' Leon, and you will learn about the role Leon has played in the Social, Political, and Economic development of Nicaragua. 



August 8 (Breakfast, Lunch): Leon --> Granada. Today you will once again get an early start. In the morning you will explore the Masaya Volcano, followed by a visit to the local artisan markets. Masaya Volcano was the first National Park to be established in Nicaragua in 1979. The park includes a beautiful crater lake known as the Masaya Lagoon. You will be taken slowly to the summit of the volcano - en route you will visit the Environmental Interpretation Center, learn about the tectonic and volcanic activity in the region, and get to know the flora and fauna of the refuge.


You will continue to the town of Granada. Granada is a truly beautiful Colonial town perched in a privileged position on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The town is endowed with many well-preserved churches, and narrow streets with large homes featuring airy indoor patios, tiled roofs, and striking Colonial colors. Upon arrival in Granada you will enjoy a walking tour of the town. Following the walking tour, you will embark on a 2-hour guided kayaking expedition on Lake Nicaragua to explore Granada's off-shore 'islets'.  




August 9 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner): Granada --> Nicaragua Libre. After breakfast, you will head to nearby Mombacho Volcano. You will hike its crater trail, and will then partake in a Canopy Tour in the Mombacho cloud forest which will include a series of zip-lines to descend from the top of the volcano! 


Following the 'adventure at Mombacho', you will be taken to the Nicaragua Libre Community, where you will spend the next 2 days and nights. This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself and learn about customs and traditions of the local indigenous people in the region. Nicaragua Libre is a rural community co-op that was established in 1980. Its primary purpose is to produce crops both to feed the local population, as well as to generate income for the impoverished residents of the area (Nicaragua has the second lowest per-capita income in the Western Hemisphere). The co-op project now comprises 6 different sites and 100 families. During your time at the Nicaragua Libre Community, you will have an opportunity to both learn about the various projects, as well as pitch-in and help with the many tasks required to sustain the program.


You will stay in a communal home at the Granada project - in basic rooms which are rented for a fee which is paid to the co-op; the facility has been built to confirm to the standards of the Rainforest Alliance to ensure minimal environmental impact. 


August 10 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner): Nicaragua Libre. The group will be assigned a number of tasks today to pitch-in and work alongside members of the Nicaragua Libre community. Many of these will be agriculture-oriented: planting trees and crops in the fields, cleaning and maintaining the gardens, pruning the plants, etc. Later in the day you will be given a broader tour of the community and it's plantations to learn more about how the co-op process works and how it affects the lives of its inhabitants. In the evening you will enjoy dinner and a bonfire, where you'll have a chance to chat more with the locals and hear their stories and legends.   


August 11 (Breakfast): Nicaragua Libre --> Ometepe Island. Today you will get an early start and head to the San Jorge Port to take the ferry to Ometepe Island. Ometepe stands ominously in the shimmering waters of lake Nicaragua - two massive volcano peaks, joined by an isthmus of tropical jungle. It's truly a special, and some even say a mystical, place. Once on the island, you will head to your hotel to get refreshed before enjoying an afternoon kayak tour through the Istian river. Your naturalist guide will no doubt point out a bevy of flora and fauna, and you'll likely be visited by one of the island's tribes of monkeys during your expedition!


August 12 (Breakfast, Lunch): Ometepe Island. Following breakfast, the group will set off for Maderas Volcano. Maderas is a dormant volcano and is home to one of Nicaragua's two cloud forests. We will provide several options depending on what you wish to do -- you may undertake the climb to ascend the volcano to view the pristine lagoon in it's crater; or you may undertake less strenuous hiking around the lower slopes and explore the rich biodiversity of this micro-climate. Note - the hike to the top of the volcano and back takes about 6 hours, and it is ALWAYS muddy near and at the top!  


August 13 (Breakfast): Ometepe Island --> San Juan del Sur. Bid farewell to Ometepe as you take the ferry back to San Jorge port. From there you will be transferred to San Juan del Sur - the beautiful and bustling 'surfer town' on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. Settle in and enjoy a day at leisure. 


August 14 (Breakfast): San Juan del Sur. Today is T'17 Surf School! After breakfast you will be transferred to one of the nearby surf beaches. The group will receive 2 hours of instruction from the local surfing experts, and then will enjoy the rest of the day at the beach - surfing, swimming, languishing in the sun!  


August 15 (Breakfast): San Juan del Sur. Enjoy most of the day at leisure. In the late afternoon you will enjoy a sunset cruise, complete with an array of local cocktails and refreshments for you to enjoy as another day in paradise melts away. 



August 16 (Breakfast): San Juan del Sur --> Managua International Airport. We have arranged a rotation of private transfers throughout the day to transfer you from San Juan del Sur to the airport (approx 2.5 hours) for you to connect to your flight home. 


  • Leon - Los Balcones. 2 nights. See the TripAdvisor writeup here
  • Granada - Plaza Colon. 1 night. See the TripAdvisor writeup here
  • Nicaragua Libre Community. 2 nights.
  • Ometepe Island - Villa Paraiso. 2 nights. See the TripAdvisor writeup here
  • San Juan del Sur - Pelican Eyes. 3 nights. See the TripAdvisor writeup here.
Cost and what's included

The cost for the T'18 International Adventure Trip in Nicaragua is $1,898 USD per person. The price includes the following:
  • Private transfers from / to International Airport in Managua
  • Private-guided touring throughout
  • All activities outlined in the itinerary
  • All lodging summarized in the itinerary
  • 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 2 dinners

The price does not include the following:

  • Personal expense
  • Meals not included in the itinerary
  • Entry and exit from International Airport in Managua (entry: $10 USD tourist card; exit: $36 USD departure tax -- sometimes included in your airline ticket)
  • Tips for guide, driver, bellboys, maids 
Guidance on how to budget for items not included:

The amount of expense you will incur over and above the trip price will vary based on each individual's preferences. That said, the following should help you budget for additional amounts you may spend while in Nicaragua:
  • A typical lunch will cost $12-$16 USD per person (including drinks)
  • A typical dinner will cost $16-$20 USD per person (including drinks)
  • A beer costs $2-$3 USD
  • A glass of wine costs $4-$8 USD
  • Budget for tipping - assume roughly $2/day

While the itinerary is full of activities, you do have some free time in San Juan del Sur and have the option to partake in additional excursions. A few that are popular include:

  • Horseback riding along the beach: $20 USD per person, per hour
  • Full day sailing trip (arranged by Pelican Eyes resort): $110 USD; OR the boat can be chartered privately for up to 12 people for $1,300 USD  
  • Spa services at Pelican Eyes - there are a bevy of options available; pricing varies but generally reflect North American spa rates 

ATMs are available at Managua International Airport (and in most of the places you will visit). Credit cards are also widely accepted in Nicaragua. That said, you would be wise to bring $200 - $300 USD cash with you in case of emergency. 


We are excited to be able to create such an amazing experience for you and are at your disposal to answer any questions you may have about these journeys.


Christopher Clark, C.E.O.