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Ecotourism in Nicaragua

NICARAGUA | Monday, 24 February 2014 | Views [359] | Comments [2]

We rounded up our stay in Nicaragua with a bit of ecotourism.

Firstly, we stayed at the Rancho de los Alpes, were I was going to 'do some environmental volunteering'. My Spanish teacher had set something up for me a the Rancho and it all sounded interesting.  Axel, the owner, showed me around his beautiful horse ranch about half an hour outside of Leon.  It was a working farm / eco-hotel where you could ride horses, zip through the canopy on high lines,  make tortillas, and learn about the medicinal use of the local plants; amongst other things. Axel ran the hotel but he had organised it so that local people from surrounding communities did all the other bits, in this way sharing work opportunities with his local community. He also organised a range classes for local kids; traditional dancing, painting etc, in short he was a bit of a community leader with a social and environmental interest.

At the back of his ranch he had a patch of dry tropical forest with a short walking track through it. He really wanted to develop this track into an opportunity for environmental education, and this is where we came in. We ended up developing a map of the track with a set of  track notes, talking about the various plants and animals occuring in this patch of forest and throwing in a few key environmental messages as well. Arnold helped out with the bird surveys and translated my track notes into Spanish so that Axel would have an English and a Spanish version. I was a bit of a challenge given the limited time, money and equipment but we both really enjoyed being able help out in this way, and Axel seemed pretty happy with the end result too.

After Leon, we moved to the mountain town of Matagalpa, where we visited/ admired the renown Cerva Negra eco-resort. This one has won a lot of praise internationally as they are in fact a coffee farm but have found ways to make everything on their farm sustainable and recyclable, including the waste products. Many local people are employed on the farm and the associated eco-resort looks amazing, complete with plants growing on the roofs of the cabins. The place was well and truly above our budget, but we were able to hike the forest trails which are also part of the resort, followed by a  completly surprising meal of ROOKWORST EN ZUURKOOL ...the place was originally set up by Germans. Well considering we eat beans and rice pretty much everyday we were more than  happy to tuck in.

We also spend some time at a farm-stay high in the mountains in the north of Nicaragua. Another interesting eco-tourism cooperative involving number of communities within the Miraflor Reserve. This Reserve is basically an agricultural area where local farmers grow a whole range of products such as coffee, corn and tobacco, generally on a small scale. However the government, realising the environmental values of the region has set tight regulations restricting the further clearing of vegetation. The communities within the reserve got together with the great idea to open up some of their homes to tourists- showing them how people live and work in this beautiful mountain region. We stayed with Martha and Luis and their 4 kids. It was the real deal, basic as anything, and a great experience to see. We're talking about cooking with wood, no furniture other than a few plastic chairs and one table, a pit-hole toilet somewhere outback. We ate with the family, I even helped make 30 or so tortillas (Martha gets up every day at 5 am to do so, and stays in the kitchen the rest of the day). Wonderful people, and amazing that they want to share their house this way with what are basically rich strangers with high standards.....Have a look at some of the pictures to get a better idea.

 

Comments

1

Hi Kirsten en Arnold
Love reading your blog. Wish I could be there to share in the adventure!
I can imagine how nice Rookwurst would be after months eating beans!
Stay safe and happy travels!
Chris and Dan

  Chris and Dan Feb 25, 2014 1:42 PM

2

Hey Kirsten and Arnold
It's great to read all your blogs and keep us up to date with the wonderful travel experiences you are having
Enjoy the time and take care

Bernadette, Matt and James

  Bernadette Allen Feb 27, 2014 6:29 PM

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