NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NOMINATES CAYUGA COLLECTION AS “EARTH CHANGERS”

There are many hospitality awards out there, but only a handful that are for real – meaning you don’t have to “pay to play”.  One of them is the World Legacy Award by National Geographic.  We are incredibly honored to be named as a finalist in the “Earth Changers” category.

At the Cayuga Collection, we have many reasons to be proud of the work that we have done, and continue to do, throughout our properties. Whether it has been our commitment to providing year around employment to a 100% local workforce, banning plastic water bottles, or providing our guests with bamboo straws for their drinks, we strive to educate our guests on the “Cayuga Way” of blending luxury and sustainability.

You are able to go on a “back of the house” sustainability tour at all the Cayuga Collection properties. You will learn how we treat our wastewater, wash the linen, prepare your food and connect with our local staff. In this picture Jose explains the functioning of the Bionest Treatment plant at Lapa Rios Ecolodge.

You are able to go on a “back of the house” sustainability tour at all the Cayuga Collection properties. You will learn how we treat our wastewater, wash the linen, prepare your food and connect with our local staff. In this picture Jose explains the functioning of the Bionest Treatment plant at Lapa Rios Ecolodge.

Beyond the work that is visible to our guests at the hotel level, the Cayuga Collection has also worked to aid scientific research to protect highly-endangered wild feline populations, and through our NGO – Earth Equilibrium – we continue to provide environmental education to children in areas surrounding hotels and lodges.

The World Legacy Awards, a partnership between National Geographic and ITB Berlin, showcase the leading travel and tourism companies, organizations and destinations — ranging from entire countries to small islands and from urban hotels to jungle retreats — driving the sustainable tourism transformation of the global travel industry.

At Cayuga, we strive to find the perfect symbiosis between Luxury and Sustainability. Not always an easy task. At Kura Design Villas in Uvita, guests don’t have to give up creature comforts to enjoy a guilt free vacation experience.

At Cayuga, we strive to find the perfect symbiosis between Luxury and Sustainability. Not always an easy task. At Kura Design Villas in Uvita, guests don’t have to give up creature comforts to enjoy a guilt free vacation experience.

This year’s World Legacy Awards entries spanned the planet, representing 45 countries and six continents, showcasing how sustainable tourism has no boundaries. Finalists in five award categories were selected by an international team of more than 20 judges. A multi-step judging process also included on-site inspections of each finalist.  The Cayuga Collection Hotels and Lodges were visited by a judge in early November this year.

The Culinary Experience is a very important part of the guest experience. We use fresh local – and when possible – organic ingredients prepared by local chefs.

The Culinary Experience is a very important part of the guest experience. We use fresh local – and when possible – organic ingredients prepared by local chefs.

Costas Christ, Chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards, said, “We have reached a tipping point as more of the travel industry understands that there can be no future for tourism without sustainability, including environmentally-friendly business practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, and tangible social and economic benefits to local people in travel destinations.”

The Cayuga Management Team on a recent visit to a project that supports employment for underprivileged women who manufacture purses.

The Cayuga Management Team on a recent visit to a project that supports employment for underprivileged women who manufacture purses.

We also congratulate Finch Bay Eco Hotel in Galapagos and ITC Hotels in India as our fellow category finalists. With company like this, it is an absolute honor to be nominated.  And we look forward to our trip to ITB Berlin in March were we will be waiting for the envelope and the announcement “And the winner is…”

Birds of Nicaragua, Part 3

Continuing with the list of beautiful birds of Nicaragua, flying over the green rainforests and serenading the untouched nature. These colorful birds are the main focus of attention eager birders, but they are also alluring to every animal and nature lover. Here are a few of the many stunning birds of Nicaragua:

Vermilion flycatcher

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This ball of fire is found in open areas, trees, shrubs and generally near water. They flycatchers, as their name gives it away, feed on insects such as flies, grasshoppers and beetles. Being an opportunistic feeder, flycatchers has been caught eating small fish as well. They are favored among birders, but since the males lose their beautiful bright vermilion color in captivity, they are not kept as pets.

Barn swallow

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Barn Swallows are the most widespread species of swallow in the world, and they are as the national bird of Austria and Estonia. Another fun fact about them is that they mate for life! They usually live in open country and use human’s building and structures to breed. They’re efficient eaters, feeding on insects while flying, and equally fast drinkers and bathers, dipping into water for an instant while in flight.

Cedar waxwing

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This bundle of color lives in open woodlands, forests, and water and loves cedar cones, fruits and insects. If this bird is not merrily sitting in fruit trees, it’s taking a bath in shallow creeks or socializing with its flock and grooming them (Yes!they groom each other).

White-throated magpie-jay

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This magpie-jay lives in woodlands and forests, from sea level to 4,000 feet high. They don’t migrate and they feed on a wide range of animals and plants such as insects, caterpillars, frogs, lizards, seeds and fruits. (Yes, almost everything!) However, the younger birds take years to learn the full foraging skills of their parents.

Stay on a private island, just you and nature to witness these beautiful birds!

 

Birds of Nicaragua, Part 2

The plush forests and pristine nature in Nicaragua has numerous gorgeous birds inhabiting them. The diversity and variety of birds in Nicaragua is remarkable, with 703 different species soaring the tropical skies. Continuing with last week’s post, here are a few more of Nicaragua’s pretty fliers:

Spectacled owl

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No, this is not Hedwig! This bug-eyed cuteness is a large tropical owl which breeds in forests of Central America, living in tropical rain forests. This owl is active at night around the time of last light at dusk, and goes back to the cozy nest by the first light. As much as we love to befriend spectacled owl, it is a solitary and unsocial bird, roosting singly. Their diet is any mammal that is active at night including bats, small monkeys and medium-sized birds. Their prey can be heavier than the owl, even the three-toed sloth has been reported to have been killed by spectacled owl. They look cute, but are quite the killers! When they are hunting, they perch on a branch scanning the area, and drop with a quick pounce when prey is located.

Purple-throated mountain-gem

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This gem is a hummingbird that resides in Nicaragua and Costa Rica forests. Its diet mainly consists of nectar of different flowers and small insects. Both males and females have iridescent green feathers. Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life, they don’t migrate or live in flocks, and females build nests and raise the chicks alone. Such independents! The nest is built with soft fibre plants, animal hair, and the structure is strengthened with spider webbing, giving it an elastic quality to stretch as the nestlings grow. They have some serious architecture skills!

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Collared aracari

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This toucan breeds in lowland forests and open woodlands. The colors on collared aracari are stunning, as if painted by a brush. The head and chest are black and the underparts are olive green, with a red rump and upper tail. Beautiful! They fly in small flocks of 6-15, flying rapidly and directly. These toucans are avid fruit-eaters; however, they also take insects, lizards, eggs, and small prey. The chicks remain in the nest after hatching since they are naked and blind at birth. The aracaris are very social, roosting together and sleeping in the same hole with tails folded over their backs. Cute!

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Hairy woodpecker

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This small but powerful bird forages the forests on tree trunks and main branches of open woodlands and forests.They live in pairs and both parents feed the nestlings until they are ready to leave the nest, which is 28-30 days after hatching. Woodpeckers feed on the base of the trees, shrubs or fallen logs, excavating into dead wood for insects. They mainly eat insects, fruits, berries, nuts and sometimes tree sap. They are also known to peck at wooden window frames and the sides of wooden houses if they have bugs. So if a woodpecker is poking at your home, as cute as it might be, it is definitely not a good omen.

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Visit Nicaragua and a have meet and greet with these astounding birds.

 

 

Birds of Nicaragua,Part 1

Nicaragua is home to numerous awe-inspiring birds since it is the ecological bridge connecting North and South America. The biodiversity is strikingly vast, with 703 bird species inhabiting Nicaragua, and here is a short introduction to our flying family:

The guardabarranco

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This bright-colored bird has been elected as national bird of Nicaragua. However, it doesn’t get the same respect in the neighbor country,Costa Rica. It is known as pájaro bobo (“foolish bird”) in Costa Rica because it allows humans to come near very close. Well, sounds like friendliness is not appreciated when it comes to safety!

The body of this friendly bird is mostly green-blue with a rufous back and belly. The tips of its tail resemble rackets and have long bear feather shafts. It has an interesting use for the tails; the move the tail back and forth while it hangs loosely( the wag-display). The guardabarranco does this in presence of a predator, communicating that it sees the predator and will be captured.

Magnificent frigatebird

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This large seabird flies over tropical oceans with its long black-and-white wings. The males have colored inflatable throat pouches. which is generally used to store fish and other prey while hunting.

They are not a fan of walking, they cannot take off from a flat surface either, so they are essentially aerial and able to swim for more than a week! Magnificent indeed!

Snowy egret

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These snow-white herons live in thick isolated islands. They often change location from year to year, and eat mostly aquatic animals such as frogs, worms and insects. They are smooth predators, vibrating their bills, swaying their heads, or flicking their wings to gather prey. Playful!

Snowy Egrets are permanent residents in most of South America and Central America. However, at one time the beautiful plumes of the snowy egret were in great demand by market hunters as decorations for women’s hats. As a result, their population decreased to dangerously low levels. However, now they are protected by law and their population has bounced back.

Peregrine falcon

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Peregrine falcon soars the skies over mountain ranges, river valleys and coastlines. They reach faster speeds(over 320 km/h) than any other animal during steep dives for the prey (the stoop). If your eyes are welling up just thinking about it, it is worth noting that the falcons protect their eyes during the dive with a third eyelid, spreading tears and keeping debris away.
The adult falcons are usually bluish black to grey with black wingtips and white to rusty underparts. The side of their cheeks are black which sharply contrast with their pale throat.

Scarlet macaw

bascolapariossept2008-103Red, yellow and blue are the colors of these eye candies. They are native to humid evergreen forests of tropical South America, giving color to rainforests. Some macaws may have green in their wings as well. Typically they are spotted flying alone, or in pairs, above the rainforest canopy. Interestingly, captive macaws are famous for imitating human speech. As if they weren’t cute enough already!

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Learn more about opportunities to see these beautiful birds at Jicaro Ecolodge.

When in Jicaro, Get Adventurous; Zip-Lining , Kayaking, and Volcano Boarding!

Longing for adventures never ends, even when you are on the road and travelling. In fact, the best active opportunities present themselves while one is gallivanting around this wondrous globe. In Nicaragua, there are uniquely tingling activities to experience:

Zip Line Canopy

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Have you ever wondered how it would feel to fly, to soar into the air light as a feather, with wind ruffling your hair ? Find an answer to all those questions at Jicaro Nicaragua, zip lining over the canopy. This tour is the most innovative way to explore Nicaragua and get a panoramic view of the tropical rainforest. The zip lining happens at the Canopy Miravallers which is about 25 minutes away from Jicaro Ecolodge. Once there, you can slide down the harnesses that the experienced guides will prepare. Don’t forget to bring your camera because you can try tricks like zipping upside down or flying like a super man!

Kayaking

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Waves of blue water hug Jicaro all around, so Kayaking is a great way to get around and explore. A guide will accompany you, facilitating the trip as well as helping to learn about the natural history of the islands. There is a narrow canal on the way that is covered in beautiful lilies. These lilies are home to birds, therefore, on your way you might encounter shore birds or lake turtles!

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Volcano Boarding

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This tour takes you to the City of Leon, former capital of León, passing Momotombo volcano. After hiking up this amazing volcano, sand board down the hill for an adrenaline-induced experience. Sandboarding came into play around the same time as snowboarding in 1970s. The board is also similar to a snowboard but with a harder base. You will need to gear up for drifting down the sandy surface with goggles, sturdy runners or hiking boots, and a helmet.

All in all, our advice is to grab on to dear life and have fun!

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If you have ever done any of these activities share your experience with us on our Facebook page.

 

Eat, Pray , Love ; experience all in Jicaro

Elizabeth Gilbert’s book one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia narrates an envious journey. However, her travels require a tremendous time commitment, a tireless body, and a limitless credit card. Self discovery comes with a price! What if you could discover great food, yourself, and love all in one pristine piece of heaven on earth? Welcome to Jicaro, an island that will transform your life.

Eat

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“I think I deserve something beautiful.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

And we all deserve something delicious! At Jicaro all the food is prepared with fresh local ingredients. Our team prepare light snacks for you to enjoy before diving into the delightful eateries. The amazing view of lake Nicaragua will make this flavour party a heavenly experience. Experiment with our mind-blowing dishes that have been prepared with locally grown ingredients producing an utterly unique treat for your palate. You can have Avocado toast for breakfast like a champion or try Fresh Watermelon Salad with Feta cheese for a perfect end to your day. Our menu is filled with yummy possibilities! Check out our menu,  and local eateries .

Pray

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“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Break away from the shackles of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Choose to embrace peace, serenity, and your inner beauty. Get centered and reconnect with yourself on Jicaro, an island that will naturally shield you from all worries and troubles because Jicaro is secluded by miles of calm blue water. Breathe out all the negative thoughts and breathe in tranquility on our yoga deck that overlooks Lake Nicaragua. Visit our Wellness and Spa centre to treat your body to a massage while your eyes are gifted with a spectacular view of Lake Nicaragua.      
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Love

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“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

If you want to lose balance in love with your significant other Jicaro is the place. The private island gives couples the rare opportunity to revel in passion and love somewhere excotic and private. From candle lit dinner on a floating deck to gorgeous sunsets Jicaro will nourish your love until it becomes all consuming. Reconnect to your loves one, to yourself, and experience the peace that love has to offer. Whether you are honeymooning or looking for a romantic escape, we recommend hiding on this gorgeous island.

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You can check out the various packages and book your visit here

 

Shark Week! Lake Nicaragua’s Freshwater Sharks

Lake Nicaragua is Central America’s largest lake. It’s so large that the first Spaniards to set foot on Nicaraguan soil mistook it for an ocean! But, its size isn’t what makes the 110 mile body of water one of the world’s most fascinating lakes. Rather, it’s what lies below its silvery surface: one of the world’s few freshwater shark species.NICARGUA-VOLCANO_3077363b

Nicaragua’s bull shark is one of the few shark species capable of surviving in fresh water. It can measure up to 11ft and splits its time between the vast fresh waters of Lake Nicaragua and the salty ones of the Caribbean sea- adapting its body’s salinity levels according to its environment.

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When living in fresh water, the shark’s blood is saltier than the water around it. In order to survive, it must lower its body’s salinity levels to match the water around it. It does this by by urinating frequently and making use of the special set of filtration glands near its tail.

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Bull sharks access Lake Nicaragua via the San Juan River, which connects the lake to the Caribbean sea. Like salmon, bull sharks jump upstream until they reach the lake where they are able to swim in warm, shallow waters and feed on the lake’s fresh water fish. The lake also provides juvenile bull sharks with a place to mature away from predators like other shark species.

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Bull sharks are slate grey with a bright white underbelly and pointed dorsal fin that sticks up out of the water when they are about to breach the surface. Although they are often found in shallow waters, very few humans come in contact with the mighty creatures…So paddleboard away! You won’t be running into one of these guys any time soon.

Leon Eateries You Need to Try

Planning a day trip to Leon during your stay at Jicaro? There’s no shortage of things to do in the bustling college town. But, a full day spent exploring the city’s museums, historical sites, art galleries, and markets can leave one feeling pretty famished. Luckily, Leon is full of cosmopolitan eateries that serve up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert! So stop, rest your feet, and treat yourself to one of Leon’s finest feasts! Here are the eateries you have to try.

Pan Y Paz

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Attention gluten lovers! If you’re looking for somewhere to stop for a loaf a fluffy french bread, an eclair stuffed with fresh cream, or a buttery croissant, look no further. Pan Y Paz is your one stop shop for all the authentic french “pattiseries” your heart desires. The quaint little bakery is run by European couple Christian and Miranda who fell in love with Leon on vacation in 2008. Shortly after their trip, they decided to open a bakery just a few blocks from Leon’s Cathedral and bring the people of Nicaragua a taste of Europe. This may not be your authentic Nicaraguan eatery but it is definitely worth a stop!

Cocinarte

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You know that vegetarian friend who is always forcing you to accompany them to every hippy-dippy restaurant they come across? Well you’ll thank them for dragging you to this meat-free eatery. Cocinarte’s menu features vegetarian options from around the world like falafel, spicy Indian curry, and veggie fajitas all bursting with spice and flavour. The ingredients are fresh, cooked to order, and served in heaps big enough to fill any belly. The restaurant itself is tucked away in Leon’s historic Laborío neighborhood in a beautiful  colonial house- the perfect place to enjoy a veggie-filled feast.

Cafe La Nicaraguita

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Punctuate your day with a quick stop at Cafe La Nicaraguita where you’ll find everything from Nicaraguan small plates, to fruit smoothies, to good old fashioned burgers. The atmosphere is funky with local art lining the brightly painted walls and framed chalk boards spelling out the day’s specials.

Stop by any of these Leon eateries? Post a picture of your meal on our Facebook page!

Our Little Chunk of Volcano: How Jicaro Was Formed

It’s not everyday you get to sleep on a chunk of volcano…Unless you’re sleeping at Jicaro, which is located on one of the tiny islands dotting the waters of Lake Nicaragua known as the Granada Islets. Central America’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua contains 365 islets that are home to over 1200 people. Were you to travel back in time several thousand years however, these isletas would be conspicuously absent.

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It wasn’t until a particularly violent explosion of Mombacho Volcano nearly 20 thousand years ago that Lake Nicaragua’s silky surface was pocked with the hundreds of rocky landmasses that make up the Granada Isletas.

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The volcano exploded with enough force to send much of its cone spewing into the lake. These chunks of volcanic rock formed the isletas, which range in size from 100 square feet  to 100 square acres.

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Over time the islands populated with eco lodges, communities of fishermen, and wealthy Nicaraguans. Some, however, remain uninhabited and teem with lush flora that provides shelter to several of  Nicaragua’s native monkeys and bird species. Kayak the shallow channels of water between the isletas and you will see their large hanging nests swinging from the trees. Paddle to Monkey Island and you will be greeted by a colony of monkeys that were rescued and relocated there by a veterinarian.

Eager to explore the isletas? Ask us about our boat tour!

Eat Like a Local! Traditional Nicaraguan Bites to Try

Nicaragua’s culinary history is as rich as the country’s itself, dating all the way back to pre columbian times. Their was transformed by colonization and is a delightful fusion of Nicaraguan and Spanish flavors unlike anything else in the world. This unique marriage of the two cultures’ ingredients and spices is known in Spanish as “criollio.”

Here are a few plates you have to try.

Sopa de Mondongo

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This souppopular in the region of Masayais made from the slow-cooked intestines of a cow, but don’t be alarmed. It’s actually quite delicious! Plus, according to Nicaraguan folklore, it has healing powers.

To prepare this soups, intestines are soaked in bicarbonate, orange and lemon then cut into small pieces and cooked with vegetables. The vegetables and spices used vary from region to region. The soup is thickened with ground rice and often served with avocado and tortillas.

Nacatamal

Nacatamal

Nacatamals are essentially the Nicaraguan version of mexican tamales. They are made from dough prepared with a special type of corn flour known as “masas de harina”which can be found in Nicaraguan marketsand butter. The dough is stuffed full of sliced chicken, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and onions then wrapped in plantain leaves. The whole thing is then tied shut and boiled for several hours until it reaches toasty perfection.

The Quesillo

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More cheese please! If Nacatamals are the Nicaraguan version of tamales, then quesillos are the Nicaraguan version of grilled cheese. And oh boy are they ever delicious! The main two ingredients in a quesillo are warm corn tortillas and cheese. The cheese is layered on top of the tortilla then topped with onions, vinegar, and sour cream. You can find these scrumptious bites at stands all over the country. They are especially popular in Leon.

Try any of these dishes on your travels through Nicaragua? Post a picture on our Facebook page!