Coffee and Canoes, Nicaraguan Style For lovers of tropical flora and fauna, Rica Nica is a dream date:
Rica Nica meets at Managua Airport and are offered on:
Jan 14-24, 2010
Feb 25-Mar 7, 2010
Trip Price: $2375.00
Requested Single Supplement: $450.00.
Private Bath: 6 nights
Canoe Rental: included in trip price
Day by Day Itinerary
Canoe and Coffee, Nicaragua Style
For lovers of tropical flora and fauna, Rica Nica is a dream date: a trip through three distinct wildlife areas full of rich flora and fauna. Rica Nica is a romance of tropical proportions. Our first days are spent in the magically isolated and tranquil Archipelago of Solentiname, then we explore the Rio San Juan, which is described as “the last place of pure, authentic ecology in Central America”, and finally we travel to the coffee mountains of Finca Esperanza Verde, which won first place in the Smithsonian Magazine Sustainable Tourism contest in 2004. Pack a little extra patience and the brightest color film you can find—and welcome to Nicaragua -- the Heart of America.
We will explore by foot, canoe and kayak where we often will be the only visitors.
When we arrive in Solentiname, we settle into Albergue Celentiname, where Maria Guevara has been running the lodge for over 18 years. She is one of the original painters on the islands and is happy to share her story and the history of life in Solentiname.
The Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal established a communal society here for artists, poets and craftspeople. The Archipelago Solentiname has been a poets and artists refuge creating and expanding a proper style of poetry and painting that has became a label of Nicaragua internationally. It is known for its distinctive schools of colourful primitivist painting; splendid, bright colors representing the way of life of the towns and neighborhoods of Nicaragua. The painters and artisans are very open and friendly and we are usually invited into their homes to learn more about their art.
We will explore the islands by canoe and foot. Paddling along the shore line lets us soak in our surroundings and is an excellent way to birdwatch. In addition to the art on the islands we will also have time to explore petroglyphs and pre-Columbian sites. We will visit Los Guatuzos, a wonderful wildlife refuge along the Rio Papaturro where the wildlife is abundant including monkeys, iguanas, turtles, herons, and egrets only to name a few.
After a short stay in Solentiname we return to San Carlos and begin our journey down the rio San Juan. The San Juan forms the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The whole area is considered a tropical rain forest and the bio diversity is spectacular. Along the river we will see a wide variety of bird species including chestnut toucans, boat-billed herons, great egrets and white ibis.
At Finca Esperanza Verde we will enjoy peaceful accommodations, as well as beautiful sunsets, delicious food, and a wonderful menu of educational and recreational activities -- a fitting end to our trip. Tucked away in the lush green mountains of central Nicaragua, Finca Esperanza Verde Ecolodge, along with its organic coffee farm and nature preserve, comprise a cool, environmentally friendly and utterly tranquil paradise for both relaxation and participation in country life.
Few people enjoy the privilege to experience tropical wildlife without all the crowds. Rica Nica is one love affair with nature that you may never get over.
Day 1 Arrive Managua
Arrive in Managua at any time. We arrive at the airport in Managua, the country's capital, welcomed by the huge sign "Brazos Abiertos" ("Open Arms"). Heed this greeting and let the country envelop you. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. As your fellow travellers are arriving at various times throughout the day, there are no planned activities other than a group dinner and info session. Look in the hotel lobby for notices on when/where the group meeting will occur.
Day 2, 3 & 4 Solentiname
Breakfast at hotel and transfer to airport for flight to San Carlos in Cessna Grand Caravan 208B. 4x4 taxi to dock and private motorboat transfer on Lake Nicaragua to the Solentiname Archipelago. Lunch and then afternoon walks for bird watching and visits with local nature artists.
Early departure the next morning in private boat to Los Guatusos, a wildlife refuge -- the cradle of wildlife for this incredible lake. We will paddle the rain forest river of Río Papaturro in the Los Guatuzos Wildlife Reserve. The journey includes a visit to the biological research station up river, where the community is involved in research and preservation of endangered species and a small butterfly farming operation is combined with a turtle hatchery and more than 100 species of orchids are on display.
Albergue Celentiname, located on the most densely forested part of San Fernando Island, this tiny lodge has cabins that look out on Lake Nicaragua and an adjacent island with hundreds of nesting ducks. The lodge grounds are shaded by 20 meter high trees, draped in vines and home to many iguanas and flowers that are frequented by hummingbirds. Each cabin has a private bath with unheated water, simple beds, sparse lighting, screened windows and a deck above the lake shore. The owner Maria and Daniel are some of the friendlist people in Solentiname, is finest lodging location in the archipeligo. It truly is one of the most pleasant places in Nicaragua to read a book and sip fresh java on the porch overlooking the lake.
Day 5 & 6 El Castillo and the Rio San Juan
Our final morning in Solentiname, and we will say our fond good byes to Maria on our way to the virgin island of Zapote, nesting site for more than 12,000 birds and home to more than 300 species of birds, 3 species of monkey, sloths, crocodiles and the fascinating Jesus Christ lizard. After our visit to Zapote we continue on to San Carlos for lunch and a visit to the market before continuing down the river to El Castillo.
The San Juan River is a timeless passageway through dense tropical forest from Central America's grandest lake to the Caribbean Sea. This historic river was the route of famous pirates and later the stage for great colonial period battles between the Spanish and British Crowns. It 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 in his notebooks as "an earthly paradise", is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding rain forest experiences available anywhere. The 190 km length of the San Juan River, from the inland sea of Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean is full of fabulous flora and fauna, including the Indio- Maíz Biological Reserve, 4,000 square kilometers of virgin rain forest and wildlife. The Indio-Maíz reserve has been described by University of California biologists as "the gem of Central American nature reserves". The San Juan River affords access to the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve, 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. This is the lungs of Central America, the biggest expanse of tropical lowland rain forest north of the Amazon basin.
Hotel Victoria, in El Castillo is a new hotel, located along the principal walkway of the town of El Castillo. From this location it is possible to view both the monumental fortress on one side, and the rapids of the San Juan River on the other side. The hotel has two floors and both floors have roofed terraces with a river view. The comfortable rooms have either a private or shared bath (all with hot water), and the price of the room already includes breakfast.
Day 7, 8 & 9 Finca Esperanza Verde
Our transportation day starts with an early morning public boat back to San Carlos, then fly back to Managua, and finally 3 hour bus to Finca Esperanza Verde . It is a long day of transportation, but when we arrive, you will immediately realize that it is worth the trouble. We immediately feel at home in the open air lodge and cabanas, with wide, west-facing vistas, surrounded organic coffee plantations, shaded by a second-generation cloud forest,
We have two full days at Finca Esperanza Verde, and our first morning might start after coffee exploring their impressive and varied trail system searching for more of the 150 species of birds, howler monkeys, numerous orchids, and medicinal plants. Finca Esperanza Verde also features several waterfalls, a butterfly house and breeding project, and a delicious spring-fed, potable water supply. We will be able to learn all about coffee during our stay. From picking to exporting and all the stages in between the farm’s all-Nicaraguan staff enjoy teaching visitors about coffee and are proud that their care of the farm makes it a home to hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, mammals, trees and orchids.
Nature hike with naturalist guides. Visit La Chispa School built with income from tourism. Meet teacher and students. Observe parent-run nutrition program. Excursion to Wabule River for a picnic, bird watching, swimming and relaxing. Visit a coffee farm and meet the farmer and his family. Coffee cupping (tasting). Learn all about organic coffee farming. After dinner talk – “Solar energy: a sustainable resource”-observe photovoltaic solar system components.
We will not lack for things to do during our short stay at Finca Esperanza Verde.
Finca Esperanza Verde award winning eco-lodge (Best Ecolodge in Nicaragua-ICV/INTUR) in the world renown coffee region of Matagalpa in the northern highlands. Dinner at sunset with view across the Dariense Mountains
Day 10 -- Return to Managua and fond Good-bys
Depart FEV for Managua International Airport by chartered bus for departure or for a side trip on your own to another part of Nicaragua.
Trip Price $1750.00
Rica Nica includes:
- 1 nights lodging at the Mercedes Hotel across from the airport in Managua
- 3 nights lodging at the Albergue Celentiname / Solentiname Archipelago
- 2 nights at Hotel Victoria in El Castillo
- 3 nights at Finca Esperanza Verde near San Ramon
- All transportation in private boat or busAssistance of an English speaking guide
- Assistance of select local guides
Does Not Include:
- Meals not specified (est $75.00 per person)Round-trip domestic flight: Managua - San Carlos - Managua ($130.00 in 2007)
- Suggested donation to Los Guatuzos Wildlife Reserve / Río Papaturro
- Art and painting purchasesAll admissions & Miscellanous museum fees & possible community donations ($50.00 to $150.00)
- Personal options, like hiring private fishing guide or other activities not included in the trip price.
BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.
800.421.5268 or 802.362.2800
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