The San Juan River or Río San Juan in Nicaragua, is a timeless passageway through dense tropical rain forest from Central America’s grandest lake to the Caribbean Sea. This historic river was the stage for great colonial period battles between the Spanish Crown and British and French pirates and later became the route of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s inter-oceanic steam ship service during the California gold rush. The Rio San Juan, described by Mark Twain as “an earthly paradise”, is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding rain forest experiences available anywhere.
This boating wildlife safari travels the entire 190 km length of the San Juan River, from the inland sea of Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean. You’ll savor the fabulous flora and fauna of the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve, 4,000 square kilometers of virgin rainforest and wildlife. The rain forest Indio-Maíz reserve has been described by UCLA biologists as “the gem of Central American lowland rain forest reserves”. We’ll explore it in depth with visits to the extraordinary Indio River, which runs into the heart of this precious rain forest nature reserve and many others of the reserve’s hidden veins.
The Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve is home to many endangered species: howler, white faced and spider monkeys, jaguar, giant anteaters, crocodiles, toucans, parrots and a rainbow of orchid and butterflies. Over 600 species of birds live here, along with more than 300 species of reptiles and 200 species of mammals. Join us for a trip into Nicaragua’s Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve.
Río San Juan and Indio-Maíz Rain Forest Reserve Itinerary
- Day 01: Managua (Tuesday or Saturday Start dates only)
- Airport greeting and transfer to selected hotel
- Day 02: San Carlos – San Juan River
- Breakfast and transfer to airport for domestic flight to the jungle capital of San Carlos, transfer to dock to board private boat. Magnificent journey down the mighty Río San Juan with wildlife viewing stops in route. Overnight in the peaceful riverfront village of El Castillo at the Hotel Victoria. Dinner in the village.
- Day 03: San Juan River – Caribbean Sea – Bay of San Juan
- Breakfast at the lodge and early private motorboat departure for the great journey down the Río San Juan. This part of the river is full of turtles, caimans and crocodiles as well as monkeys and is great for bird watching. Continue down the Rio San Juan to its spectacular finish at the Caribbean Sea. Visit to the famous sand bar where the river meets the sea. Lodging on the spectacular rain forest bay of San Juan at the luxury wilderness Rio Indio Lodge. Lunch and dinner at the lodge.
- Day 04: Greytown – Bay of San Juan
- Visit to the old British ghost town called Greytown, which is now covered in tropical rainforest and located in the giant San Juan Bay. The old settlement described by Mark Twain is great for birding and is historically fascinating. Hiking near the lodge on several rain forest trails to view monkey, sloths and many rare birds. All meals and lodging at Rio Indio Lodge.
- Day 05: Indio River / Rio Indio, Indio-Maiz
- Early breakfast and departure up the virgin Río Indio for exploration in boat, into the east side of the Indio-Maíz Reserve. Half-day boat tour to explore this untamed paradise of rain forest flora and fauna. The Río Indio is like no other in Central America with kilometer after kilometer of thick rainforest filled with wildlife. This kind of untouched tropical splendor cannot be found anywhere else north of the Amazon. All meals and lodging at the Rio Indio Lodge.
- Day 06: Bay Of San Juan – Managua (Note this must be a Sunday or Thursday for Flight Schedules)
- Breakfast and private boat transfer to the airport at Greytown. Cessna Caravan 208B flight to Managua. Airport greeting in Managua and private transfer to selected hotel.
- Day 07: Managua
- Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to international airport for flight home.
San Juan River Tour Includes
- Assistance of an English speaking biologist or naturalist guide
- Assistance of selected local guides
- All guide expenses
- Private ground transportation with a/c and professional driver
- All driver expenses
- Cessna Grand Caravan 208B flight: Managua – San Carlos
- Cessna Grand Caravan 208B flight: San Juan del Norte – Managua
- Domestic flight taxes
- 2 nights lodging at selected hotel in Managua
- 3 nights lodging at the Río Indio Lodge in San Juan Bay
- 1 night lodging at Hotel Victoria, El Castillo, San Juan River
- All meals on the river
- 4 days of private motorboat touring
- 4 days service of an expert river boatman
- All boatman expenses
- Boat transfer Rio Indio Lodge – Greytown airport for flight to Managua
- Hiking in the rain forest of the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve
- Visit in private boat to the Rio Indio inside the Indio-Maíz
- Visit to Spanish colonial fort at El Castillo
- All park and museum admissions
- 17% hotel taxes for all lodging
Selected Hotels Guide
- Base: Hotel Victoria or Luna de Río in El Castillo, Rio Indio Lodge in San Juan de Nicaragua, Holiday Express or Los Robles in Managua.
- Upgrade: Hotel Victoria or Luna de Río in El Castillo, Rio Indio Lodge in San Juan de Nicaragua, Hyatt Place or Elements in Managua.
Rates & Booking Details
- All San Juan River tours are private and can begin any day of the year.
- Rio San Juan tour costs depend on the number of travelers in your party and visit dates; please specify number when requesting a quote.
- Custom rain forest tour itineraries are available upon request.
Rio San Juan Tour does not Include
- Drinks, international flights or airport taxes.
- Travel insurance, tips, visas, or medical treatment.
- Meals in Managua.
- Guide for final transfer day to airport.