Attractions, Accomodations and Tour Information
Sabalos Lodge... on the San Juan River
An adventure awaits you at the Sabalos Lodge where you can explore the beauty of the Nicaraguan wilderness along the Rio San Juan. As described on their website: take a dip in the crystal clear water deep inside the rainforest with whiteface monkeys watching you from above. Cool down after a long day in our hammocks by the riverbank while having a cold drink, or just enjoy their specialty, the fresh fish plate.
This is the place for the true adventurer! Their goal is to give their guests a genuine experience that will last for a lifetime. The biodiversity of the area offers you the chance of seeing exotic wildlife right outside your cabin.
Spring 2010 UPDATE: NicAmigo just returned from latest visit to Rio San Juan and can, personally, attest to the delightful experience you might enjoy while visiting this area of Nicaragua. The Sabalos Lodge is a great place to use as your central hub for the activities available along the Rio San Juan. The cabins may be described as "deluxe rustic/primitave" and should satisfy most visitors although the cold showers can be a little overwhelming at first. Meals were not as good as expected and, hopefully, there will be some work done in this area. Overall, a nice experience and recommended.
Centro Ecoturistico La Maquina
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This beautiful area located just East of the Pacific Ocean (at Km. 58 on the paved La Boquita Road that goes East from the Pan Am Highway in Diriamba) is a welcome change from the heat and less than perfect air in Managua and along the main roads. Be sure to take your bathing suit (skinny dipping is, apparently, not yet tolerated) as you enjoy splashing in the abundant and said to be clean water coming over the rocks and while you relax in the calm pools directly below the falls. You may also choose from several hiking trails throughout the forest and along the river. A limited menu restaurant is available as well as the usual cervesa and mixed drink offerings. Rest rooms are acceptable and there is even a camping area available.
January 2009 update: Good news! NicAmigo has received a report that the La Boquita Road has recently been repaired from Diriamba to the Pacific Ocean. The road was in extremely poor condition and the news of the improvements is especially welcomed.
La Maquina is open from 8:00AM to 6:00PM and there is a small entry fee. For further information, call (505) 278-0871 or (505) 0887-0141 (cell).
The Hotel Lupita near Casares is located nearby (turn towards the Pacific Ocean and follow the signs) for overnight accomodations offering clean rooms, good food and a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean (don't worry about by the road or surroundings... it WILL turn out OK). This hotel is, by far, not a resort and should be considered as acceptable accomodations of the local Nicaraguan style only if you do not wish to travel immediately back to a larger town (driving on the La Boquita Road at night is not recommended).
Mombacho Canopy Tours... One of Nicaragua's best kept secrets can be found near the summit of the Mombacho Volcano located a few miles west of Granada. You, too, can swing through rain forrest trees by the use of wire cables and with the help of tour assistants who stop at nothing to assure your safe travel from one tree to another and your final thrilling decent to the ground.
NicAmigo cannot, of course, guarantee that you would not receive injuries at this or any other attraction in Nicaragua; but, the guides were extremely careful, well trained and instilled full confidence in their expertise.
Mombotour's package deals (including horseback riding and a tour of the
facilities) may include a shortened version of the canopy tour... the full version
may be added for an extra charge. There are two canopy tours on Mombacho. The one NicAmigo
recently visited was the one on the North side of the volcano which also included an extremely
interesting walking tour at the top (no horses were available). You can get information about each
tour in their respective offices or from the several tour operators in Granada.
If you're in the San Juan del Sur area, the Flying Frog Canope Tour and Horseback Riding is reported to be a "top notch" attraction. According to a reliable source, their tours enjoy high marks for guides, health of horses, professionalism, etc.
While visiting in the Granada area, we suggest staying at the recently refurbished Hotel Alhambra for excellent accomodations and a relaxing look at the many attractions in and around the town. We have stayed at this hotel many times while refurbishing our own small piece of colonial Granada and have many fond memories of our visits. Just thinking about the many friends we've met on their famous front veranda over the years is reason enough to have extreme bouts of nostalgia about the country in general and this city in particular.
There are other fine hotels and less expensive accomodations in Granada that are, in themselves, exemplary and worthy of your business; however, the Hotel Alhambra was one of the originals and historically noteworthy.
For additional information, visit the Hotel Alhambra website. We think you would be happy with this choice of accomodations.
The Markets at Masaya provide an excellent assortment of supplies and souveniers and can be an interesting experience. But, there are some things you should know to make your visits enjoyable. There are two markets: one that is primarily involved in supplying the day-to-day needs of the local residents and the second much more tourist friendly facility with many vendors offering a good assortment of Nicaraguan crafts at reasonable prices. The later market is known as "The Old Market" and is located within refurbished fortress type walls (pictured above) very near the center of town.
Both markets have English speaking young boys who will provide translation services and assistance in negotiating prices. Your guide will expect a tip after your visit and may get a little agressive at this stage of the experience... especially at the regular market.
Nicaraguan merchants generally do not negotiate prices and the first price quoted may be close (probably within 10%) to the price that you will eventually pay.
Piedras y Olas (including Pelican Eyes Sailing, Piedras y Olas Hotel and Resort as well as the La Cascada Bar and Restaurant ) is another interesting place to stay while enjoying the San Juan del Sur area. As you will read on their website, " Piedras y Olas Hotel and Resort offers a distinctive blend of gracious hospitality, local charm, architectural flair, and community commitment, all within a unique setting that blends harmoniously with the natural environment and local culture". Join Chris for a cocktail in the pool by the waterfall at sunset! You'll probably not be disappointed with the accomodations and surroundings.
And, while in San Juan del Sur, ask for information about a sailboat charter aboard the 42' "Pelican Eyes" sailing sloop.
Grant and Cathy Peeples have a wonderful little hotel on Little Corn Island called Casa Iguana that should satisfy anyone who would care to visit a remote tropical island in the Atlantic Ocean. Talk about a dream vacation! Ask them about snorkeling and diving opportunities available in the area. Photos!
The home in Granada (photo to the right) owned by the NicAmigo webmaster is availablee for short-term rentals. Due to it's central location, it could serve as your "base of operations" while touring Granada and the southwestern part of Nicaragua. For more information, go to Granada Home Rental to learn more about this beautiful colonial style home in the antique district of Granada.
Relax under the cooling mist of a rainforest waterfall (photo to the right) while watching the playful parrots in the nearby clifts at Refugio El Chocoyero located on the La Carretera a la Concha located about 20 miles South of Managua (is, quite literally, in the "boonies"... 4WD required if road is wet or in the rainy season). The hike to the site from the parking lot should be easy (for most people) as well as interesting and the walk back while soaking wet from standing under the waterfall (next time you might want to bring a bathing suit) is also exhilerating. If you have kids along, bring 'em (although, if young, should be carefully monitored in and around the unguarded streams).
Plan for a adventure-filled multi-day tour of Nicaragua from Tours Nicaragua. Their web site gives full details about many available itineraries which can take you from one end of the country to the other and then some! Several different and reasonably priced tour packages are available. A NicAmigo recommended service!
Montelimar Resort is an "all inclusive" resort in Nicaragua providing luxurious accommodations, first class meals and enjoyable entertainment. The circular pool around the bar is particularly inviting as is the Pacific Ocean beach immediately adjacent to the resort. Tours to many Nicaragua locations can be arranged for you by the knowledgeable and friendly staff. Montelimar Resort is a first class, although somewhat expensive, operation that will provide an unforgetable experience for you and your guests.
Nicaragua's Travel Net offers many tours of the country and provides an excellent review of Nicaragua tourist attractions on their Web page. A detailed analysis of travel information is also featured.
Beautiful Selva Negra Mountain Resort and Coffee Plantation is your host for an interesting vacation in the mountains of Nicaragua. Go fishing, horseback riding and hiking on 14 different trails or just plain relax. Conference room is also available for group meetings.
NOTE: During a visit a couple of years ago, we found that the facilities were disappointing as they were quite primative (beds were extremely uncomfortable in our pond view cottage although the room was clean). Meals were very good in the clubhouse. The children's playground was very dirty and the local wild ducks freely wandered the grounds leaving their "marks" that were never removed by the mangement. The tours of the coffee plantation were not available due to "equipment failure". Much of the premises appeared to be needing serious updating and overall maintenance.
GOOD NEWS! Karen just emailed me (spring 2010) and advised that they have done some major updating of the cabins and have cleaned up the problems mentioned in my previous paragraph. Sounds like Selva Negro has returned to the status of "must visit" as it's location in the mountains and overall ambiance can, certainly, be a great experience to visitors to this area of Nicarauga.
More NicAmigo recommended places of interest:
Granada for it's colorful colonial architecture, excellent accomodations and fine dining (horse drawn carriages available for local tours), Leon for colonial architecture and a magnificent cathedral, San Juan del Sur for oceanside fun and offshore fishing or sailing, Masetepe for beautiful handmade wood furniture, San Juan de Oriente for handmade pottery, Ometepe Island (a highly recommended short-term destination) for a tour around a live volcano ... overnight accomodations are available (see Trip Advisor) and ferry service is now operating from Granada to San Carlos with an interim stop at Ometepe, San Juan River Tour (from San Carlos), Pueblos Blancos for handmade ceramics, and Corn Island located in the Caribbean off the East coast of Nicaragua to enjoy the crystal clear water and a unique tropical island adventure.
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