All the Cool Ecolodges are Doing It: How Jicaro Keeps Cool without A/C

“No air conditioning? In Nicaragua? Won’t we melt?!”  Is something we hear a lot of from first time guests booking a stay at Jicaro. Luckily, their fears of melting in their sleep are qualmed the moment they step foot into our casitas. Despite having no A/C, Jicaro’s jungle treehouses stay surprisingly cool. How do we do it?

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Cross Ventilation

Each casita is meticulously designed to optimize air flow. Windows and vents on opposite sides of your casita provide cool breezes with a natural pathway through each room. Consider it nature’s air conditioning.

Ceiling Fans

For when nature’s breezes fail, each casita is equipped with DIY breeze-makers (A.K.A. ceiling fans) that get air flowing through your tree-house hut. Combine these fans with our cross ventilation systems and you’ll be cool as a clam.

Trees Wonderful Trees

Not a single tree was cut down to build Jicaro and, as a result, your casita is NIC_131215_01443sheltered from the hot Nicaraguan sun by a canopy of leafy greens. The shade provided by the area’s flaura and fauna helps keep inside temperatures low.

Elevated Tree Houses

All our casitas are raised up off the ground allowing cool lake winds to whistle above, beside, through, AND under your private tree house.

Curious about our other sustainability initiatives? Read about them here.

Book your casita now!

5 Things You Need to Know About Leon

Not too far from Jicaro lies one of Nicaragua’s most bustling, culturally rich cities—Leon—a place where poets dream and streetscapes stun. Alive with history and bustling with life, Leon is one of the world’s most interesting cities. Here are some fun facts you should know before heading there for visit.

The original Leon is 20 miles away

The original Leon was built in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba but the eruption of Momotombo Volcano in 1610 forced citizens out of the city to nearby Native American town Subtiava. There, a new Leon was erected and has since grown into one of the most influential cities in the country. The ruins of the original Leon were excavated in 1960 and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Siteleon

The Momotombo Volcano is still active today

Unlike some of the world’s other volcanos, which resemble sleepy green hills more than fire breathing mountains of ash, the Momotombo Volcano is still active today. In  fact, in 2015 it erupted for the first time in 110 years. We’re talking ash clouds, lava, the works! Luckily, the explosions were too far away to cause anyone harm.

What a way to finish my last assignment of my 20 Year Journey. This volcano last erupted in 1905. This special moment was only slightly interrupted by the arrival of the local police, determined to reprimand me for climbing over a fence and leaving my car on the highway.

Leon is home to Central America’s second oldest university

The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (NAUN) has been around since 1812 making it the oldest University in Nicaragua. Nicaraguans come from around the country to study at NUAN during the school year breathing life into the sometimes sleepy city. Famous alumni include poet and revolutionary Rosario Murillo and writer Sergio Ramirez.

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Leon was in the running to be Nicaragua’s capital

For years Leon and neighbouring city Granada fought mercilessly over which city would be capital. Which one of them won? Neither! Nearby city Managua became capital as it was conveniently located between Leon and Granada.

El-Calvario-Church-In-Leon-Nicaragua

Leon is full of secret underground passageways

You may have heard of Leon’s famous Cathedral of Assumption—a world famous heritage site that took over 65 years to build— but not everyone knows about the network of tunnels running beneath the church. The tunnels connect the cathedral to the city’s other churches and were built as a means of quick escape from attacks and pirate loots. Leon Cath

Want to add a tour of Leon to your Jivaro Vacation? LET US KNOW!

Granada Eateries You Need to Try

Just a short boat ride away from Jicaro, Granada is a colonial city full of bustling markets, bright colors and, of course, delicious food. Here are a couple Granada eateries you won’t want to miss.

Pita Pita

Pita so nice the restaurant’s name includes it twice… Yes, it’s no secret that Pita Pita—a little Mediterranean joint on Granada’s Calle La Libertad road—has the best pita in town…and the best hummus…and the best falafel. Owner David and his wife Yasmine have created a menu packed with mouthwatering Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, and Turkish dishes that attract crowds from near and far. The portions are big, their flavours are bold, and—at $3-$10 USD a plate—their prices are more than reasonable. 

Must try dish: The Falafel Plate

hummus

The Garden Cafe

Healthy, fresh, delicious, this charming cafe set in a quirky Spanish Colonial home delights with its delicious food and friendly atmosphere. The owners Damien and Xiomara Hopkins opened the Garden Cafe in 2007 in hopes of creating a culinary hangout where people could enjoy fresh, local ingredients in a funky outdoor garden setting. The restaurant has since become a massive hit among breakfast, lunch, and dinner goers alike. You can find everything here from wraps, to salads, to steaks and their homemade smoothies have garnered somewhat of a cult following. If you’re in the mood to shop after your meal, the quaint in house “Garden Shop” is the perfect one-stop-shop for local art from Granada and surrounding cities.

Must try dish: Any one of their delicious smoothies

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Restaurante El Garaje

A crowd favourite since its inception in 1996, El Garage is where fresh, local cuisine collides with international flavours. They have a rotating menu that features everything from quesadillas, to Vietnamese-inspired duck tacos and a great beverage selection to boot. Their ingredients are fresh and local (they even grow some of their own vegetables) and each dish is creative and made with care. They keep the restaurant door closed even when they’re open for business so make sure to knock!

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Try something delicious in Granada? Tweet or Facebook us pictures of you favourite Granada eats!

 

 

Paddle Board Yoga is the New Yoga

Located on a secluded island surrounded by the temperate waters of Lake Nicaragua,
Jicaro
is the perfect place to try your hand at all sorts of water sports. If you’ve perfected paddleboarding and want to try you hand at something a bit trickier, paddleboard yoga might just be for you. That’s right, paddleboard yoga…the ultimate balancing act.

Ready to give it a shot? Seeing as balancing on a paddleboard is considerably harder than balancing on land, it’s best to start out with seated and floor based (or should we say board based) poses. Here are a couple to try.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Its name is a bit tricky but the pose itself is actually fairly straight forwards

ardha_matsyendrasana

Sit on your board with your legs pointed straight ahead. Bend your knees and slip your left leg under your right leg until your left foot is touching your right hip. Make sure your right knee is pointed towards the sky. Got it?

Now twist your torso towards the inside of your right thigh. Press your right against the board behind your bum and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right leg. Breath (and don’t fall!)

Boat Pose

Could there be a more fitting move to try on the water? Work your abs and hip flexors with this V-shaped pose.

Boat

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your hands behind your hips and fingers facing forwards. Engage your abdominal muscles as you lean your torso back until your sitting on your tailbone.

Bend your knees and lift your feet off your board until they are about 45 degrees from the board.

Make this pose more challenging by straightening your legs and bringing your arms forwards until they are parallel to the floor. Feel the burn.

Chair Pose

Ready for a standing pose? Start with chair pose—stable enough you won’t go splashing into the lake.

chair

Stand on your board with your feet planted hips width apart, hands by your side. Bend your knees until your torso forms a right angle with the tops of your thighs. Raise your arms up over your head and hold.

Already a paddleboard yoga master? Tweet or Facebook us your favorite balancing tips and tricks!

A Quick Update on our Sustainability Projects

The past years have been busy for us in terms of our work with the local community JicaroIslandEcolodge-LakviewPatio
around Jicaro. We’ve been focused on improving the conditions and installations of the Padre Nello school near Jicaro and–over the next months– we would like to expand our reach to other schools and help them improve infrastructure. We would also like to focus a bit more physical and mental health in surrounding communities and get involved in a reforestation project of the Asese Peninsula, where Jicaro is located. We will keep you posted on progress. If you would like to get involved with any of these projects, let us know!

What have we done in the past? 

  • We installed a potable water system at the local school so that students no longer have to drink unfiltered water from the lake. 
  • We installed solar panels to power the water pumps and to make the school useable after dark (for adult education or other activities). 
  • We upgraded the school’s equipment and utensils.
Getting our new water pumps delivered

Getting our new water pumps delivered

What are we doing right now? 

  • A few months ago, we started a program called “a glass of milk” to fight malnutrition among students.  Every student receives a glass of milk and a snack before starting classes. This program was an initiative of the Jicaro Hotel Staff. 
  • We are supporting a group of local women in setting up their business of sowing clothes for sale in the community.  We donated utensils and machinery. 
  • We arranged for psychologists visits to help parents cope with the challenges that they and their children face every day. 

School Kids At Padre Nello

What is next? 

  • Identify needs and get involved with infrastructure projects for other schools in need. 
  • Expanding the educational education program “Learning is Change” to other schools in the area. 
  • Get started on the project to reforest the Asese Peninsula with native trees.  We have started a tree nursery at Jicaro and will work with the local authorities on this plan in the next years. 

We are just a nine room ecolodge but– thanks to your help– we’ve been able to achieve a lot. Help us spread the word.  Every guest that visits Jicaro makes it possible for us to do more work on future sustainability projects.   

Planting seeds for the future at Padre Nello

Planting seeds for the future at Padre Nello

Smartphone Photography Series: Your Vacation Video

If you didn’t come home with a cool vacation video did you even go on vacation?

iphone video

Travel videos are the edgiest new way to share your adventures and– although many of them may look like they were shot by a professional camera crew– you don’t need much more than your smartphone to make an artsy vacation edit. Today we’ll be walking through some simple steps to making a spectacular vacation video clip.

STEP ONE: Make sure you have a good video app.

Your smartphone’s native video camera works well but if you’re looking to go the extra mile, download an app that gives you a bit more control over film settings. Movie Pro boasts all-manual video control settings and supports 3K and 4K video recording.

movie pro

STEP TWO: Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

This is the fun part. Scout out some beautiful locations and think about how you want to film them. Experiment with having a subject in the frame (a friend or spouse is perfect), with slow-motion video, or with time-lapse. Time lapse video is now extremely easy to shoot thanks to apps like Hyperlapse and is guaranteed to spice up any video. Having a Joby Griptight mount and GorillaPod with you is a good idea as this will help you get shake-free footage on the go.

STEP THREE: Activate movie magic!

Once you’ve captured everything you can, it’s time to splice it all together, add some music, and amaze everyone with your cinematography skills. Luckily, smartphone video editing has been made amazingly easy thanks to a couple foolproof apps.

For iPhone users, iMovie is a great option. Not only does let you splice together photos and video but you can add music, voice over, and transitions to your masterpiece. Power Director is a great option for Android users.

imovie

STEP 4: Share!

Upload it to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and make sure to tag us!

Smartphone Photography Series: Suitcase Sized Smartphone Gear

Last week we learned how to use the VSCO app to make the most out of your smartphone cameras while on vacation. Now that you’ve mastered that, let’s take a look at some suitcase sized smartphone toys that will help cement your Nicaragua Facebook album in travel photo history. Some of them are practical while others are just plain fun.

Selfie Stick

selfie-stickThe selfie stick is arguably as essential as a bathing suit. Okay well maybe not quite…but it is fun to have handy for those multi-person group selfies (arms are only so long!) You can pick one up practically anywhere and it will slide right into your suitcase no problem.

The Joby Smartphone GripTight Mount

This little guy is about the size of a pack of gum and clips onto your smartphone allowing itJoby 2 to attach to tripods, monopods, and other DSLR gear. Tripods and monopods help you get a perfectly shake-free shot but are a bit bulky if you’re hiking up the Cerro Negro Volcano or through Nicaragua’s lowland dry forest. Luckily, the GorillaPod tripod is here to help!

GorillaPod Tripod

This little tripod is perfect to bring adventuring. Attach your phone using the Joby mount and you can take pictures from virtually anywhere. Wrap the GorillaPod around a tree treephonebranch, prop it on a rock, this fun, flexible gadget does it all. You can even position the pod and take a picture of yourself using your phone’s self timer.

Underwater Case

Seeing as Jicaro is surrounded by water, why not take the plunge and try snapping some underwater images? Hitcase makes a case that is shockproof, 100% waterproof up to 33ft, and guaranteed to capture Instagram worthy pics of all the photogenic fishies you can find.

Video taken with Hitcase

Now that you’ve got the gear, go get some pictures! Tweet or Facebook us your best ones.

Smartphone Photography Series: VSCO…for once people will want to look at your vacation photos

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting all the latest camera gear to capture your travel adventures. However, the best camera is the one you have on you, and this is usually your smartphone camera. Luckily, smartphone camera technology has come a long way in the past few years and you can now take professional looking pictures with your pocket-sized device. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be looking at apps and gear that will take your smartphone photography from amateur to amazing. First up: VSCO.

vsco

VSCO is a free app for iPhone and Android that not only helps you shoot crystal clear, artistic images, but edit and share them as well. This all-in-one app comes with a wide range of manual controls, editing tools, and filters. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on how to use VSCO to take your best vacation pictures ever.

Shooting

Use the VSCO camera instead of your phone’s in-house camera to have more control over your picture presets.

shooting

Swipe right any time to access the home menu. Tap this icon to access the VSCO camera.

Once you’ve opened the VSCO camera, tap the white dotted circle at the top of the screen to open the VSCO shooting menu. From here, you can navigate flash, grid lines (which help with composition), white balance lock (which will stop your camera from adjusting color on the go), advance settings, and interface color (black or white.)

menu

Basic shooting settings are located at the top of the screen.


Advanced Settings

The advanced settings option is for people wanting to get a little more creative with their photos and adjust exposure, white balance, focus, and ISO (sensitivity to light) manually.

vsco

Tap the screen with one finger and you can can set the red focus+exposure circle on a single point. Tap with two fingers and you can set focus and exposure on two separate points. It’s up to you! To lock focus and exposure simply double tap the red circles. The advanced settings sound complicated at first, but spend a couple minutes tinkering around with them and you’ll be a pro in no time.VSCO4

Editing

VSCO’s editing feature is very popular among smartphone photographers because of its high caliber features and ease of use. Anyone can do it! Once in the editing section of the app, you can choose to edit your photo manually or use one of VSCO’s preset filters to add a gorgeous filmic quality to your image. Adjust the intensity of the filters by taping the filter icon twice.filters If you prefer to edit manually, the app lets you adjust exposure, contrast, orientation, clarity, sharpness, saturation, and much more.

Sharing

Now that you’ve perfected your picture share it! You can save your picture to your camera role, post it to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or simply share it right on your VSCO grid. To do this create a VSCO profile then tap the + sign at the top right of your screen.

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Alternately, you can upload your pictures to a journal or collection in order to organize them by theme or event. Make sure to make a Jicaro themed journal at the end of your stay!

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Tweet or Facebook us the most amazing photos you took in Nicaragua!

Sand boarding: A Guide to One of Nicaragua’s Gnarliest Sports

Keep your toes toasty by skipping chilly ski hills and slide down the slope of a volcano instead.

Brief History

Sand boarding caught on around the same time as snowboarding–in the 1970s– and has been growing in popularity ever since. Rumored to have been practiced by Egyptians thousands of years ago, sand boarding is now a popular sport everywhere from Nicaragua, to Australia, to Africa.

The Board

The board is similar to a snowboard in size and shape but with a harder base made of Formica or Laminex that glides over gritty surfaces with the help of a little wax.

Sandboard

The Gear

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Although sand boarding doesn’t require bulky snow pants or puffy down jackets, its important to suit up in all the right gear. The essentials typically include sand boarding goggles, sturdy runners or hiking boots, and a helmet. If you happen to be venturing down the face of a volcano, like Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro, full-protection suits are often worn to guard skin from the rugged volcano rock.

The Volcano

nature around the volcanos

The Cerro Negro volcano– just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the ecolodge– is a sand boarder’s haven with its panoramic view of the Telica and San Cristobal volcanos. It’s a 500 ft descent to the base of the volcano and boarders can opt to sit or stand on their boards depending on their skill and comfort levels.

Sliding down the face of an active volcano may not be for the faint of heart but, equipped with an adventurous spirit, it is guaranteed to be the experience of a lifetime.

Would you like to add volcano sandboarding to your itinerary? Let us know! We would be happy to help you plan your trip.

Spa at Jicaro EcoLodge

There is no better way to relax than having a spa day at Jicaro Island Ecolodge. Being pampered while on a private island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua is something you will never forget!

The way the spa is designed is to maximize your feeling of connectivity with the natural world around you. Having a massage or other treatment in the open air is an extremely relaxing experience.

Sun setting over Mombacho seen from the Jicaro Spa.

 

If you look up from the Spa you will also see the Mombacho Volcano looming on the horizon, it’s a constant reminder of how the Nicaraguan landscape was formed. Talk to our front desk if you are interested in having a spa treatment during your stay at Jicaro Island Ecolodge.