Nicaragua is known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes,” and Jicaro sits at the heart of the country’s most defining landscapes. Perched on an isleta in the middle of Lake Nicaragua—Central America’s largest freshwater lake—the lodge offers views of the Mombacho Volcano and is a short distance from several other volcanic peaks, including the active Masaya Volcano. Nearby cities are awash with Spanish colonial splendor—from the churches of León to the colorful, cobbled streets of Granada.
Founded in 1524, Granada is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Latin America and home to one of Nicaragua’s most well-preserved colonial old towns. This is a city made for strolling—along cobbled streets lined with pastel mansions and churches, and through bustling handicraft markets and palm-shaded parks.
Considered Nicaragua’s intellectual capital, León is brimming with museums, including the fascinating Museo de la Revolucion, which documents the Sandinista movement. This is also where you’ll find one of the country’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the León Cathedral.
The Masaya Volcano’s smoldering cone is the centerpiece for Nicaragua’s first and largest national park. Trails run through lava tubes and to the rumbling Cráter Santiago, and guided nocturnal hikes bring you within view of the crater’s glowing lava lake.
Jicaro Island belongs to the Asese Archipelago, a group of 365 isletas that formed when a landslide on the Mombacho Volcano hurtled volcanic rock into Lake Nicaragua around two million years ago. Ringed by three volcanic peaks, the lake connects with the Caribbean Sea via the San Juan River. The isletas and lakeshores are shrouded in lush tropical forests, which harbor a myriad of colorful bird and butterfly species; and the lake itself teems with over 40 kinds of fish, including the Caribbean bull shark— one of world’s only freshwater-adapted sharks.
Prior to the Spanish colonial conquest of the 16th century, several indigenous groups inhabited what is now Nicaragua. Those living in the western part of the country, like the Niquirano and the Chortega, suffered great losses with the introduction of European disease, while groups living closer to the Caribbean coast avoided widespread illness due to their remote location. The lake itself has played host to Caribbean pirates, with the infamous Captain Henry Morgan sacking Granada on several occasions during the colonial period. Today, the isletas of Lake Nicaragua are inhabited by fishing families, most of combined European and indigenous descent.
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