Savor the serenity of Nicaragua’s first botanic garden, and then set off for Leon, a city long admired for its colonial architecture, especially the Leon Cathedral.
Depart from the pier and enjoy a leisurely ninety-minute drive into the volcanic lowlands of northwestern Nicaragua, where you will find the esteemed university in Leon. While the university dates back to early 19th century, this tour focuses on its recently developed botanic garden, the first one in Nicaragua.
You will spend about two hours in this serene oasis, walking the two and one-half mile nature trail, admiring countless species of plants that have been collected throughout Nicaragua. Most of the specimens come from tropical dry forest and savanna ecosystems, and many of the plants have attributes other than beauty. Leaves from cacao trees are used as a natural insect repellant, and extracts from the bark of the massively crowned guanacaste tree serve as soap substitutes. Guanacaste means “ear tree,” as its curled seedpods resemble human ears. Succulents also thrive here, as do dozens of species of birds from kingfishers to magpies. Following your guided walk, you will have a bit of free time to stroll about on your own.
More attractions await you in Leon’s main plaza, which is dominated by the magnificent Leon Cathedral, whose construction began in 1747. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral beautifully illustrates several architectural styles and features thick low towers shaped to withstand earthquakes. If you walk through the interior, you will notice the abundance of natural sunlight and rich ornamentation. The wooden Flemish altarpiece is particularly treasured. Later, you will return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2 1/2 hours of moderate walking, plus any additional walking at the guests’ discretion during free time. There are an optional 60 steps to negotiate if guests wish to visit the roof of the cathedral. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. *Daytime temperatures in this destination can be quite high.*