- Where to Go
- The Best of Nicaragua
- Nicaragua’s Best Surfing
- Hiking Nicaragua’s Ring of Fire
- Nicaraguan Arts & Crafts
- Nicaragua’s Great Green North
- Sportfishing in Nicaragua
- Down the Río San Juan
- Nicaragua’s Celebrations & Fiestas
- Volunteering in Nicaragua
- Diving & Snorkeling in Nicaragua
- Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour
Most of the national tour operators listed in the Essentials chapter have offices in Granada that provide all local trips and transfers. In addition, here are a few Granada specialists.
Leo Tours (tel. 505/8829-4372 or 505/8842-7905, leotoursgranada [at] gmail [dot] com, leonica1971 [at] yahoo [dot] com, http://leotours.blogspot.com), run by Leopoldo Castillo, a Granada native, tries to work in a more community-minded spirit that will connect you to Nicaragua rather than just show you the sights. They can take you around Granada, Ometepe, Laguna de Apoyo, and Mombacho, or show by bike tour how the “rest” of Granada lives.
Mombotour (next to BDF in the Centro Comercial Granada, tel. 505/2552-4545 or 505/2552-3297, www.mombotour.com) offers several different canopy tours starting at $30 per person, including their popular Tarzan Swing. You can be on belay in 30 minutes from your hotel, and they pick you up. Also look for bike tours/rentals and canopy trips at the Cutirre Farm on Mombacho.
Tierra Tours (Calle La Calzada, two blocks east of park, tel. 505/8862-9580, www.tierratours.com) offers trips to Mombacho, Masaya, and Las Isletas, where they can coordinate kayak tours as well. They are also gaining traction as the go-to place for travelers — Spanish language students, usually — looking for longer term homestays.
In addition to local tours of Granada, Masaya, and Catarina, Tierra offers night tours of Volcán Masaya and overnight cabins and tent platforms at a nearby Butterfly Reserve and coffee farm ($55 pp for full-service camping trip). Ask about shuttle service to other parts of Nicaragua, including León, where they have a sister office.
Servitur (tel. 505/8838-7820 or 505/2552-2955, orvind [at] hotmail [dot] com) is connected to the Hotel Alhambra, offering travel agent services and a variety of local trips in the Granada area, including a horsedrawn-carriage city tour and fishing trips.
Amigo Tours (tel. 505/2552-4080, bernal [at] amigotours [dot] net, www.amigotours.net), connected to the lobby of the Hotel Colonial, provides a higher-end option for tours, plus travel agency services like national airline bookings, car rentals, and transfers to and from Costa Rica.
Community Tourism near Granada
For those seeking a full-immersion cultural experience, the most obvious option is to sign up for a homestay with one of the many Spanish schools in Granada. This is a good option if you want to stay with a Nicaraguan family and still have access to Granada’s many restaurants, Internet cafés, and other distractions.
If you’d really like to get out there, then consider arranging a few days (or weeks) with the Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias Tierra y Agua, also known as the Earth and Water UCA (tel. 505/8896-9361 or 505/2552-0238, turismo [at] ucatierrayagua [dot] org, www.ucatierrayagua.org). The office in Granada is located 75 yards to the west of the Shell Palmira and is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. The UCA is an association of rural farmers on the slopes of Volcán Mombacho and Isla de Zapatera National Park who will be glad to be your hosts.
You’ll stay in primitive Nicaraguan lodging and eat typical food while getting to know your new neighborhood. Expect to pay about $5 per person per night for lodging in La Granadilla or Zonzapote, and about $3 per meal. Local guides will take you horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and more; cheap transport to and from Granada can be arranged.
Income generated by your visit goes directly to a cooperative collective fund to pay for meals, guides, maintenance, etc., and to distribute to families involved. The UCA also maintains a general fund for tourism, used for training and to make small loans for new tourist-related projects.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition