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Nicaragua Family Travel

Nicaragua, the largest yet most sparsely populated country in Central America, is known as the “country of lakes and volcanoes”.

There are so many reasons to explore Nicaragua but the one most often overlooked – it’s a hop, skip and a jump from the USA! Nicaragua is blessed with two of the most charming and well-preserved colonial towns in Central America, Granada and León. Nicaragua boasts five of the most famous surf beaches in the world and nineteen active volcanoes, many of which you can climb and/or sand board! Almost one-fifth of Nicaragua’s landmass is protected in national parks or nature reserves so there is a lot of nature and very few humans! Nicaragua is host to many spectacular, off the beaten track luxury resorts – which translates to; you can play hard then be treated like a king or queen!

So if you are clamoring for spectacularly preserved colonial cities, hiking or sand boarding on volcanoes, surfing or just hanging out on remote beaches, climbing through canyons that were just discovered within the last 15 years, watching monkeys bolt through the trees while you kayak on a freshwater lake, and unplug in a spectacular cottage at the end of your day, then Nicaragua is the place you want to be! Come join us for a rich cultural experience and exciting adventure in Nicaragua!

Our Family Travel Philosophy:

First and foremost, we know travel can be a tool for transformation — if you want it to be! When we plan trips for families we focus on what goals they’d like to accomplish and how we could design a trip to meet those goals. One of the main areas of focus for many of our clients are activates that will bring family members closer together; reinforcing those deep, rich familial bonds. And that is exactly what Motherland Travel specializes in!

We use adventure activities like a company would use team-building exercises. We want the activity to act as the catalyst for healthy communication, collaboration and ultimately, connection. When families work as a team to accomplish a goal, it helps build a positive family culture. Team-building exercises and adventure activities (when done together) lay the foundation for mutual understanding and respect. You get to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses and encourage each other through to meeting your desired goal.

The best part, accomplishing goals and being rewarded for your efforts, releases all the happy “connecting” hormones AND builds self-esteem – we want more of that! When we accomplish goals, we feel good. When we feel good, we release hormones that increase the likelihood of making deeper connections. It’s really that simple and that’s our number one goal, building connections.

Our Favorite Activities:

Cooking class and market – Granada

Learn to prepare your very own masterpieces on this family-focused culinary expereince! Alongside a local culinary expert, you will first visit the local market in Granada to find and purchase fresh ingredients for use in the kitchen. Explore the marketplace as a family, bonding as you gain insights into the rich tradition of Nicaraguan cuisine at this colorful bazaar. After going to the market, you will be introduced to an expert local chef who will provide a comprehensive cooking demonstration, sharing techniques and methods to ensure the whole family is able to prepare incredible Nicaraguan dishes. Enjoy your home cooked meal and leave with all the amazing recipes. ¡Buen provecho!

Chocolate workshop – Granada

At the ChocoMuseo you will learn everything there is to know about chocolate and cacao. After exploring the museum, you and your family will participate in a museum-led workshop where participants prepare handmade chocolate from 100% Nicaraguan organic cacao beans. This one and a half hour workshop covers the entire chocolate making process, starting from the cocoa bean and ending with your very own handmade bar of chocolate. The preparation of cocoa-based beverages is also detailed in the workshop, including how to prepare the ancient Maya drink. This unique and enjoyable experience offers families the opportunity to accomplish an activity together as a team while learning about cultural heritage in a very positive and joyful way, all with the promise of delicious chocolate to wrap up your day.

San Jacinto Mud Fields & Tortilla Workshop – San Jacinto, León

Approximately 20 kilometers from the colonial city of León are the boiling volcanic mud fields of San Jacinto. You get to scout out the ‘breathing holes’ for nearby volcanoes – which is fascinating to see up close and personal. Then you’ll go to a local home where you will participate in a local tortilla-making workshop. The tortilla is one of the most popular and important parts of Nicaraguan cuisine, a staple in the everyday diet of nearly all who live here. You will be involved in the process of tortilla making, starting with nothing but a dough ball to shape into a tasty flatbread. Assist local cooks in charge of the kitchen, as aromatic tortillas are made fresh on a woodstove. When they are cooled off, enjoy an incredible Nicaraguan tortilla alongside a light breakfast prepared just for you and your family. Nothing brings families together quite like good cuisine, and this tour features some of the best traditional foods the country has to offer

Sand boarding Cerro Negro – Cerro Negro Volcano, León

Cerro Negro is the youngest volcano in Central America (formed in 1850) as well as one of the most active ones. Only about 712 meters above sea level, do not be fooled by the seemingly small size of the volcano, the ascent is steep and tough. The unique topography allows for a thrilling sand boarding experience where you will speed to the bottom, gliding over dark volcanic sand on your carefully designed sand-surfing board.

It is about a one-hour hike to the top of the Cerro Negro to begin sand boarding but you get to learn about the history of the volcano and its features on the way up. I promise it’s worth the effort! Once at the top, instructions are given, you don your protective equipment and begin the descent. Exciting, educational, and capped off with a thrilling sand boarding experience few will ever know, this experience brings families together, encouraging them to conquer fears, provide support and to cheer in celebration upon completion of this adrenaline-fueled activity.

Masaya Volcano at Twilight – Masaya Volcano, Masaya

Masaya Volcano National Park is located half an hour from the capital city of Managua and is one of the most popular volcanoes in the Pacific region of Nicaragua due to its constant activity. Seeing the volcano up close and personal is a unique opportunity. How many people do you know that have watching as boiling lava roils below inside the volcano crater? It’s pretty cool!

Monimbó Family Visit – Masaya

This full day tour will get families closer to the cultural heritage of Nicaragua and an impressive active volcano. Masaya Volcano is considered one of the most active volcanoes in Central America so to see it up close and personal is quite a thrill. You are driven to the peak of the volcano where you can shimmy up to the edge and peek inside at the boiling hot red lava. After you get your fill of boiling lava, you will visit with a local family who makes the elaborately woven hammocks Nicaragua is famous for. While you and your family visit with the locals, some typical dances are performed with marimba and local instruments. The visit allows your family a more complete picture of Nicaragua’s varied landscapes and its colorful culture.

Kayak Istián River – Altagracia, Ometepe Island

Istián River is located in the region of Altagraciain Ometepe Island. This natural hidden spot is a sanctuary for resident and migratory birds and provides some of the most amazing views in Nicaragua. Three to four hours in a kayak will allow you to fully explore the entire length of the river right up to the point of exit into magnificent Lake Nicaragua. You will likely encounter many tropical birds, reptiles, monkeys and breathtaking views of Ometepe’s volcanoes, a true jewel of the region! This kayak adventure will definitely connect you all with the stunning local habitat.

Turtle Nesting – La Flor Beach, Rivas *Depending on the season

Visit the most famous beach south of San Juan del Sur; La Flor. A protected wildlife reserve due to the annual mass migration of Olive Ridley turtles, which occurs every year between August and January. Thousands of turtles arrive on certain nights to lay eggs on this particular beach. Approximately 50 days later, thousands of these eggs hatch and baby turtles begin the harrowing journey to the ocean. Both the egg laying and the hatching are incredibly unique events and can be witnessed in person at La Flor beach. A one of a kind experience!

Surfing – near San Juan del Sur

Nicaragua ranks among the best in Central America for surfing beaches. The trade winds blow over Lake Managua and into the Pacific giving Nic’s south west coast the most spectacular winds that in turn create beautiful waves! If you’re a novice there are many places to take lessons. If you’re an old hand at surfing, you’ll be thrilled to ride the waves in Nicaragua!

Basic Traveler Information:

Visa and Passport Requirements:


A passport valid for at least the duration of your stay is required for US citizens to enter Nicaragua.

Weather and Climate:

The climate in Nicaragua is tropical for most of the country, so it can be hot year around (average temperature of 81°). In the lowlands the average temperature is between 72° and 86°. In the highlands however, the temperature will range from about 53° to 68°. Since the climate varies according to the region, the best time to go to certain areas might differ.

Most tourists travel to Nicaragua in the dry season, which is from December to May. The rains begin in June and usually last through most of November.

The peak season is December through March so if you are looking for good value, traveling in the cusp seasons (May and November) might be your best bet.


Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It borders Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. On the eastern side of Nicaragua is the Caribbean and to the west is the Pacific. In the northernmost part of the country are the Isabella Mountains and the main feature to the south is Lake Nicaragua. This spectacular lake is 92 miles long and has 310 islands. Lake Nicaragua is the largest fresh-water lake in Central America (the 10th largest in the world) and Ometepe (known for it’s wild beauty) is the largest island on a freshwater lake in the world!

Nicaragua is home to 19 active volcanoes that form a chain from the NW-SE. Concepción is the most active volcano in the country being in almost constant eruption for the last 100 years. Masaya (near Managua) is another very active volcano as are Momotombo and Maderas. Some of the volcanoes are climbable even though they are active so be pretty prepared for some adventure when visiting Nicaragua!



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Our Adoptive Family Travel Philosophy

When we plan trips to a child’s birth country we are looking for activities that accomplish specific goals. First and foremost, we want to bring adoptive families closer together. We know that adoptive families often struggle with attachment and bonding issues so we use fun adventure activities that are challenging enough to require each family member to step outside his or her comfort zone, but easy enough to be accomplished. When that happens, research tells us that several different hormones are released into your body – serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. When those hormones are released into your body, you feel good – they are your happy hormones! When you feel good, you are more likely to connect deeply with all those around you. Especially when you congratulate, hug and talk about your accomplishments. And the good news, that’s when you release oxytocin – which is the clincher! Oxytocin is the bonding hormone and we want our travelers to release it as often as possible!

We use adventure activities like a company would use team-building exercises. We want the activity to act as the catalyst for healthy communication, collaboration and ultimately, connection. When families work as a team to accomplish a goal, it helps builds a positive family culture. Team-building exercises and adventure activities (when done together) lay the foundation for mutual understanding and respect. You get to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses and encourage each other through to the meeting your desired goal. The best part, accomplishing goals and  being rewarded for your efforts, releases all the happy “connecting” hormone’s AND builds self-esteem. Research also tells us that internationally adopted children often score lower on measures of self-esteem – we want to change that. When your adopted child accomplishes his or her goal, feels great, releases those happy hormones, he or she will connect more deeply with you and  other family members – it’s that simple.

Finally, we want all adopted children to leave their birth country having had a positive cultural and family experience. We look for triggers, we understand your child, we understand your family dynamics, we understand your needs, desires and limitations when we plan your itinerary. In other words, we strive to make every experience positive. When your child has a positive in-country experience, your child will develop a positive sense of self in relationship to his or her birth country. We know that a strong cultural identity fosters a positive sense of self, higher self-esteem, more joy and with all that comes richer connections.

What families are saying about working with Motherland Travel:

Originally, I hadn’t considered using a “travel agency” for our trip because I was used to doing all my family travel plans using tools on the web.  I am so grateful that we discovered Motherland Travel because we had only one opportunity to make a first impression of Guatemala on my son. Bambi thought of so many things that I would have missed. Our ultimate goal of the trip was to have Jack feel proud of his heritage. We knew that we had succeeded when on the last day of the trip as we were roasting cocoa beans at the chocolate factory, my son introduced himself to a stranger by saying “Hi, my name is Jack and I am from Guatemala.” Bill

Proud Father of Jack

The trip transformed all of my fears of NOT being able to do a trip like this into joy and success. The people, pacing, activities, accommodations, and scope of the trip was a perfect fit for our family.

I feel like Bambi asked insightful questions during the initial consultation, helping me articulate my goals for this trip. I appreciate the family bonding/adventure travel information she provided, as well as the general information about Guatemala. Bambi targeted our budget and made the most of every experience, given our financial restraints. The itinerary proposal and final itinerary were thorough, detailed, and very clear. I so valued the personal details about possible triggers for my son, visiting his birth country.

We are so grateful for the effort, service, time, and thought Motherland Travel put into planning this trip for us. We have been transformed by the travel. Eddy exudes a pride and joy when he talks about our trip, and talks about Guatemala. A few days after we returned, his teacher had him present to his class about how the ecosystems in Guatemala affect the culture and way of life. As I watched him present to his peers, he shared details and experiences that revealed how much this trip was profoundly imprinted on his heart and his identity. Our family benefited so much from being out of our comfort zone – we learned so much about our son’s birth country, about human resilience, and even more about our family. I can’t choose one favorite moment, or even pick out a single least favorite moment. The days were unique, yet perfectly balanced, creating a gorgeous tapestry of experiences.

The Wall Family

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Motherland Travel offers customized birth country travel for families with internationally adopted children. We can design an unforgettable adventure for your family, or help you create your own.

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