I don't think that this tour is well advertised. It is probably over 11 hours of driving total with brief 30 minute stops here and there - about 5 or 6 of those. This is a lot of driving in a travel van and not an actual bus. Mario, our driver in Nicaragua was excellent though and tried to keep us entertained but honestly - i would have preferred more time in Granada to shop as I didn't really care for the market we ended up at. The boat ride in the lake and the Monkeys were so cool! Bring Chocolate if you can as the monkey's like to eat it. This is were i got my best pictures. The volcano was okay and we did get to see lava at the very bottom but overall, i would say it was not worth the 16 hour day.
Totally awesome day trip! It is a long drive from tamarindo but it was totally worth it as a quick overview of Nicaragua. I surprised myself by enjoying it so much i want to go back for a longer stay. Feeding the monkeys was definitely a highlight, especially since you cant do that in CR.
This was a wonderful experience and our guide Jose was exceptional. Everything we did had a wow factor including crossing the Border! and though it was a very long day it didn't feel like it - except for the last leg when tiredness hit us all. Breakfast by the lake, the volcano, boat trip and visit to Granada were just wonderful. PS the only gripe was viator contacting us by email the day before to say the trip may need rearranging and when we replied a response was not forthcoming so we had were left in a state of flux and had to contact the local tour company ourselves to find out what was going on. 5 star for the trip and 1 star for viator........
Great tour, highly recommended. The drivers/guides ensured that we had a fantastic time. Very very long day from Tamarindo starting at 430am getting back at around 9p, but worth it. Dollars are taken everywhere so no need to convert into local currency. The views were great. Breakfast/dinner was good. One note: we had breakfast in Nicaragua and NOT Liberia. Plan accordingly.
Picked up at our hotel as promised, driver spoke no english, tiny bus was overcrowded, and had to use the 'fold-down' extra seats so the aisle was blocked while driving to the border. Expected breakfast in Liberia but we didn't stop there and only got breakfast once we reached Nicaragua after a border crossing that was not quite as smooth as promised. Our guide met us at the border and was VERY helpful with the crossing and very helpful and efficient in all aspects of our trip - she was the best part of the services supplied. Nice visit to the viewpoint at Caterina but too much time allowed at the attached market afterward. Visit to magnificent volcano at Masaya was outstanding but rushed. Lunch should have been held on the plaza at Grenada or very nearby as it took too long to get to the lunch spot, too long for lunch, and too long to re-board for the short trip to the Plaza by the cathedral. The stop at the 'chocolate museum' was completely unnecessary and ate up about 45 minutes of precious time. It consisted of an informative 10 minute talks and then 20 minutes of tasting/marketing and could have been skipped altogether. We did NOT get to go to the top of the cathedral for photos as promised in the pre-trip literature - in fact some folks who were expecting to have a guided tour of the cathedral did not even get inside the building. Then we were taken to the boats and toured quickly through the islands. Again it was too short and, more annoying, only the folks seated at the front of the boat got to see the monkeys 'up close' - those 8-10 folks crowded around the guide doing the feeding and the rest of us were unable to see/photograph past them and in fact were asked to move FARTHER back by the boat captain to balance the weight of the folks who had crowded to the front of the boat. Coming back to the border we just barely made the duty-free if we had time after lunch in the square at Grenada we could have done our Nicaraguan shopping there and not had to visit the duty-free at all, just a suggestion. Also, have a photocopy of your passport with you because we had to surrender our passports before going to duty-free and could not make purchases without the passport. Final comment - from Border to Hotel our non-bilingual driver was on his cellphone almost continuously - which led to some 'questionable' driving imho. Also from the border to Liberia the bus was again overcrowded and many clients had to sit in the uncomfortable and dangerous - no seatbelts fold-down aisle seats.
1 the sights visited were amazing and I don't regret going
2 should have had a real bus with seats for everyone and a washroom
3 all legs of the trip should have a bilingual guide available to address questions/concerns
4 our trip had a mix of english and spanish speakers so guide had to deliver same info in both languages. Should have separate trips for different language customers
5 guides should work out a better system so some clients aren't left-out when viewing monkeys at Islands near Grenada
6 all activities and promises made in the literature should be delivered.
Our tour was really fun. Mario was a good host and was able to answer all our questions. There were 10 of us and we got along well which was a nice plus. We enjoyed the trip on Lake Nicaragua, the trip to the live volcano, hanging out in Granada and even our first border crossing into Nicaragua. The lunch in Granada was great but the shopping at the market was a waste of time. We would rather have spent more time in Granada and skipped the market. Also be prepared for a long day of travel and when viator says says snacks - that means bring your own....
This was an amazing tour and well worth your time! The day is LONG 4:30am - 9:30pm but the guides kept us on schedule and know the routines and areas very well. Breakfast and lunch were delicious, the volcano was super cool to see, and Granada has so much history. Nicaragua is stunningly beautiful! You might not otherwise see Nicaragua on your own, so take a day and do this. I rate this 5 stars - but a long drive! Be prepared. Bring your passports AND proof of your flight out of Costa Rica. You will need it upon re-entry into Costa Rica. Im told some travelers have forgotten that and had to return all the way to the border the next day to show it. Dont let that be you.
Although, I booked the tour through Viator 5 days before I wanted to take the excursion and indicated it was only for one, the day I was leaving for Costa Rica on the way to the airport I received an email that the vendor Native's Way wanted to move the day of the excursion since I was a solo. I had already planned my days, so this was a huge inconvenience. As I was about to board my plane I was speaking to a representative at Native's Way, who was initially extremely rude she later apologized and said she was hungover from night before. I eventually had to change the date of my excursion.
On the day of the excursion I was picked up at 4:30am, since other people had to be picked up and then drive to the Nicaraguan Border. At the border we switched drivers and our tour guide/driver Claudio escorted us across the border. We had about a 40min delay because one of the individuals had to get a Visa.
Claudio, was knowledgeable. However he drove extremely fast I think to make up the time we lost at the border. However, this made several of us nervous, in addition to not enjoying the landscape. He rushed us at the stopping spots, except at the Catarina volcano look out. He disappeared for 30 minutes. Did not give us much information about the area. We didn't go to the Massaya Artisan market.
The boat ride to see the monkeys in Granada was nice. However we were only given 30 minute to walk around the town in Granada. Claudio did not give us a tour and did not give much info. Very disappointed.
Overall, I was glad I went to Nicaragua, but I felt we had more of a driver than a tour guide