Nicaragua ’s range of independent tour companies offer a variety of trips, from afternoon city tours to week-long expeditions to the farthest reaches of the country, the logistics of which would be nearly impossible for the solo traveler.
You can pay for exclusive personal guides and drivers, or visit Nicaragua as part of a group. Doing so decreases your independence, but provides added security and freedom from making plans. In general, all-inclusive nine-day tours cost $1,000–2,000, but each company varies.
Following are the most reliable outfitters we’ve found.
Tours Nicaragua (tel. 505/2265-3095, info [at] toursnicaragua [dot] com, www.ToursNicaragua.com ) offers private, fully guided trips using the best hotels in each locale. Their expert guides include working biologists, national museum archaeologists, historians, etc. Customize your own learning trip by asking to meet with current political figures, artists, or ex-combatants from both sides of the Contra war, for example.
Nicaragua Adventures (tel. 505/2552-8461, info [at] nica-adventures [dot] com, www.nica-adventures.com ) is a full-service, very professional Granada-based outfit with a wide range of services including tailor-made package tours and private transportation (car and drivers, rentals, etc.). They can also help book your La Costeña flight within the country.
Explore Nicaragua Tours (U.S. tel. 800/800-1132, www.explorenicaragua.com ) has 15 years of experience leading both individual and group tours in Nicaragua and staying at top properties; included in your price is a personal cell phone and bottled water.
Solentiname Tours (tel. 505/8421-5689 or 505/2270-9981, info [at] solentinametours [dot] com, www.solentinametours.com ) has offices in Managua  and San Carlos , and specializes in bird-watching, nature tours, and the Río San Juan  region.
Vapues Tours (tel. 505/2315-4999, info [at] vapues [dot] com, www.vapues.com ) has offices around the country and offers a huge range of reasonably priced trips, plus shuttle services between cities. They have some unique community tourism connections and lots of experience with groups and packages.
Tierra Tours (tel. 505/2311-0599, tierratour [at] gmail [dot] com, http://tierratour.com ) has offices in Granada  and León , and has a long menu of volcano or history tours, countrywide all-inclusive packages, international bus tickets, and domestic flight booking.
Be sure to read regional chapters for information on local, specialist tour guides, and unique trip offerings (León  is particularly rich in this department). There are also a few small companies operating across the country:
¡Un Buen Viaje! (U.S. tel. 612/386-0839, info [at] ToursToNicaragua [dot] com, www.ToursToNicaragua.com ) is a unique grassroots tour company started by former Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Schugel. “You’ll meet people who live, work, and play in the places we visit. We’ll visit their homes and communities. You’ll learn about Nicaragua from the inside out, through the voices of its people, its complex history, and rich culture.”
Nicadventure (tel. 505/2532-2344, info [at] nicadventure [dot] net, www.nicadventure.net ) is a Nicaraguan-run tour company based about 1 hour from Managua  in Jinotepe , Carazo . They specialize in adventure (volcanos, jungles, etc.), custom trips, or packages focusing on history, geography, culture, heritage, and food.
Eco Camp Expeditions (tel. 505/8400-0455 or 505/2311-2219, geraldpavn [at] gmail [dot] com, www.ecocampexpeditions.blogspot.com ) is a locally owned and operated agency that specializes in overnight camping trips. We like to take people to unique, hidden locations that most others tend to miss. They offer multiday expeditions to volcanos, beaches, lagoons, and organic farms. Prices are very reasonable ($35–80 per day; guide, food, camping gear and transportation included).
Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy (www.roadmonkey.net ) expeditions combine physically challenging adventures with sustainable, custom-designed volunteer projects that team members finish on site, working with Nicaraguan communities in need.
Wildland Adventures (tel. 800/345-4453, www.wildland.com ) has a number of both family-oriented and experiential trip offerings, with many knowledgeable Nica guides on their staff.
Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org ) offers a Reality Tours in Nicaragua. These educational trips explore various social justice issues, including the fair-trade coffee economy, monitoring elections, and learning about labor rights in free trade zones.
Witness for Peace (www.witnessforpeace.org ) is a grassroots organization “committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience.” Based in Managua, Witness for Peace has maintained a permanent presence in this Central American country since 1983; they offer a huge range of delegations “combine international travel and education with the struggle for peace, economic justice, and sustainable development.”