Cycle Nicaragua to the Panama Canal

Resort:Cycle Nicaragua to the Panama Canal
Operator: Explore
Destination: Central America, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Price From: £2249.00

Over View

This adventurous cycle trip takes us on a journey through beautiful Central America. We ride through varied scenery – past volcanoes, cloud forest, rain forest and see the famous Panama Canal. Along our way we visit the volcanic island of Ometepe and the tropical islands of Bocas del Toro for a little relaxation.

Cycle Central America – An adventurous and exciting way to see the best of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

Arenal Volcano – Cycle around the live volcano and expansive lake

Caribbean Islands – Relax in paradise on Bocas del Toro


Day 1 Trip starts in Granada

Our journey begins in Granada, a colonial arquitectural gem, situated at the foot of Mombacho volcano on the north-west shore of Lake Nicaragua. Founded in 1524 by the conquistador Hernandez de Cordoba it was the first colonial city founded in Nicaragua. The baroque and renaissance buildings of the old town help to complement this wonderful setting.

The Tour Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at approximately 6pm for the welcome meeting. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua, which is a 45-minute drive from our hotel. There are many evening flights into Managua, so if you do miss the meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If you arrive earlier in the day, you may want to explore the picturesque cobbled streets and take a break in one of the inviting cafes or eateries.

Day 2 Cycle by Lake Nicaragua. Visit Masaya Volcano National Park (optional)

This morning we get used to our bikes on a short cycle from the hotel down to the shores of Lake Nicaragua. After returning to our hotel there will be time to explore Granada on foot and some freetime for lunch. The city’s narrow lanes and historic buildings are ideal to discover on foot. In the afternoon you have the option to spend more free time in charming Granada or drive to the tranquil setting of Masaya Volcano National Park on an optional excursion to Nicaragua’s first and largest protected reserve. The views from Masaya Volcano provide us with a great panorama of the wider setting and we can explore the crater rim by foot. We return to Granada by bus later this afternoon.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 11 kilometres (total 80 metres ascent and descent)

Day 3 Cycle on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua

Leaving Granada behind this morning we drive to the highland white villages, famed locally for their importance in ancient beliefs relating to witchcraft. High up in Catarina village we can enjoy the best views across the spectacular, blue Apoyo Lagoon in the volcanic crater before getting on our bikes for a 20 km ride through the tropical countryside, getting first impressions of villagers’ and farmers’ lives. Once we reach the Panamericana Highway we continue by bus and drive to the small town San Jorge where we make the one hour ferry crossing to the volcanic island of Ometepe, set in the expansive waters of Lake Nicaragua – the largest freshwater lake in Central America. On arrival we get back on the bikes and ride 1 hour/13 km to our hotel in Charco Verde (or 2 hours/ 26 km if our hotel is located on Santo Domingo beach), always with the imposing Concepcion volcano on our left.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 33-46 kilometres (total 390 metres ascent and 780 metres descent)

Day 4 Optional ride around Maderas Volcano

Ometepe is made up of two volcanoes which rise up from the waters of Lake Nicaragua – the perfect cone of Concepcion and the slightly smaller Maderas Volcano. Today is left free and your Explore Leader will explain the different optional excursions open to you which will vary slightly depending if we are staying in Charco Verde or Santo Domingo. You may choose to go off road and cycle a section around Maderas island until reaching Finca Merida where you have the possibility of sea kayaking. There are plenty of birds and insects to be spotted in the area and en route we see rural Nicaragua at its best, with lush tropical vegetation and small hamlets. Later you might want to cycle to Alta Gracia village where you can relax and swim at the fabulous Ojo de Agua lagoon or you may prefer to cycle to Santo Domingo beach for some rest and relaxation.

Our total optional cycling distance today is approximately 26-80 kilometres (optional) (total 150 metres ascent and 150 metres descent)

Day 5 Over the border to Costa Rica

We start the day with a cycle ride back to the ferry port. From Charco Verde this is 13 kms and from Santo Domingo this would be 26 km. We then cross back to the mainland by ferry and drive the short distance to the Costa Rican border. After border crossing formalities (which may be extremely slow and require patience!) we drive 3 hours to Tilaran where we spend the night.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 13-26 kilometres (total 330 metres ascent and descent)

Day 6 Cycle around Arenal Lake and Volcano

A 45-minute drive this morning brings us to the starting point for our ride around Arenal Lake; a challenging route that takes in the spectacular backdrop of the volcano. Set in an area of national park covering some 9,884 acres, Arenal volcano has been especially active since the massive eruption of 1968. This, along with the impressive manmade Lake Arenal, has helped the area to regenerate through tourism. Since 2010 Arenal’s volcanic activity appears to be decreasing. Our challenging ride ends in the town of La Fortuna where we spend the next two nights. For those interested it is possible to start earlier today and ride a total of 68 km (total 1390 metres accumulated ascent and 1850 metres descent).

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres (total 740 metres ascent and 1080 metres descent) with the option to extend the ride.

Day 7 Free Day in La Fortuna

Today is left free for resting or exploring the tropical rainforest in more depth on either a canopy excursion, a visit to the hot springs or a jungle walk across hanging bridges. Alternatively, you may wish to cycle in and around La Fortuna, taking in some of the impressive scenery, agricultural lands, cascading waterfalls and hot springs. This is one of the fertile high plateaux where most of Costa Rica’s crops are grown.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 50 kilometres (optional) (total 350 metres ascent and 600 metres descent)

Day 8 Cycle through the stunning Orosi Valley to Turrialba

We start the day with a four hour drive to the small town of Orosi, set in the impressive Orosi Valley, forged by the meandering course of the powerful Reventazn River. This picturesque valley is the setting for today’s ride, as we discover the lush green vistas of what many consider to be some of the country’s best landscapes. Our destination is our accommodation located outside Turrialba, amid the central valleys, lush tropical gardens and volcanic peaks of Turrialba Volcano National Park.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres (total 880 metres ascent and 1180 metres descent)

Day 9 Cycle to the Panamanian border. On to Bocas del Toro idyllic islands

Driving up over the nearby mountain ridges this morning we then descend by bus towards the Caribbean coast. After about 2.5 hours we reach Puerto Viejo where we switch from the bus to our bikes and cycle to the border with Panama through a totally different side of Costa Rica; first along the lush, tropical Carribean coast and later past enormous banana plantations. We then cross the Panamanian border by way of an old railway bridge across which we push our bikes. Once again the border crossing may be very slow and require patience. We then continue by bus (1 hour) to the port of Almirante, from where we take a boat to the Isla Colon and the small town of Bocas de Toro, our base for exploring the stunning archipelago and the equally spectacular Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos. The archipelago itself is made up of a number of beautiful forested islands lying in warm Caribbean waters and the laid back beaches and dazzling reefs make this the ideal Caribbean paradise to relax or explore. Today’s ride has a 9km dirt section in it.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 31 kilometres (total 300 metres ascent and 300 metres descent)

Day 10 Free day on Bocas del Toro. Optional snorkel, boat trip…

Today is left free to enjoy the Caribbean with a number of optional activities that you might like to try. The islands boast stunning beaches and coral reefs and there are opportunities to snorkel or dive the rich waters. You may like to take a boat trip around the archipelago and marine park, or visit one of the unpopulated outlying islands. The bikes will not be available today as they cannot be carried across to the island on the ferry.

Day 11 Drive over the continental divide and ride on to Santiago

After taking the short ferry ride back to Almirante we drive south and then upwards over the Continental Divide and the cool Panamanian highlands, a journey of 2.5 hours. We commence todays cycle at Fortuna lake (1070 metres above sea level) and the route offers us a few ascents and a long downhill before we reach some fabulous natural pools in the forest for a refreshing dip. We continue by bus from Gualaca for 3 hours to the centre of the country and our night stop in Santiago, a busy provincial town and one of the oldest settlements in the country.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres (total 880 metres ascent and 1820 metres descent)

Day 12 Cycle through farmland and ranches. Drive on to Panama City

Today’s cycle ride begins near Santiago and on the bikes we pass farmland and ranches that offer an insight into a traditional and rural Panamanian way of life. After lunch we drive to Panama City (3.5 hours), hopefully with time for a swim in the Pacific Ocean before arriving into our final destination. In the evening we can explore the neighbourhood around the hotel – full of good restaurants and street life.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 38 kilometres (total 400 metres ascent and 450 metres descent)

Day 13 Visit Panama Canal. Coastal bike path in Panama City

A short drive out of town takes us to Miraflores lock, one of the best viewing points on the Panama Canal. We can take time to explore the story of the canal construction in the excellent museum and see huge container ships making their way through this major lock separating the Pacific Ocean from the 26m higher Gatun lake in the interior of the Canal zone. After a short drive back to Panama City we will cycle along the short but impressive new cycle path that follows the coast line from the Canal Zone and through Panama Vieja, affording fabulous views of Panama City’s impressive skyline. The afternoon is left free for you to take a walk through fantastic Panama Vieja – the historic town from colonial times – and can have our farewell dinner here.

Our total cycling distance today is approximately 7 kilometres on the flat.

Day 14 Trip ends in Panama City

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Panama City.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Tocumen International Airport (PTY), which is which is a 45-minute drive away.