Granada, a Colonial Masterpiece

Nicaragua boasts an array of architectural styles varying from the modest rural homes in the farmlands, to striking modern buildings with lush palm trees in the newer cities. However, the most famous architectural style can be found in Granada, where the faded city walls reminds us of a more opulent time when high class Spaniards ruled the streets.

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A beautiful example of Central American colonial style, Granada proudly displays the faded grandeur of the past with a vibrant color all its own. Established in 1524 by the Spaniard Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the oldest colonial city on mainland America and often considered the prettiest, is just a 15 minute boat ride from Jicaro Island.

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Take a tour with us to its bustling markets and historic civic buildings, a large contrast to the tranquility of Jicaro Ecolodge! Our guide will take you into the past to learn about all the issues that involved Granada’s development since the pre-Columbian period. You will hear stories about real pirates and their adventures and also civil war stories that tell of the city being burned to ashes, sacked and destroyed several times. Our guides will take you to relevant sites and colonial buildings as well as the San Francisco Museum, which preserves some of the most interesting indigenous ceramic and statue collections. Other stops along the tour include La Pólvora Fortress, Las Mercedes Church, Municipal Market, and Central park.


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The Spanish colonial style seen in Granada also dominates cities such as Leon and new construction often tries to maintain the allure and grandeur of their historical neighbors. Admiring the architectural heritage is becoming more popular among tourists and there are several architectural tours available for a more in-depth look at the city’s history. A leisurely stroll down the cobbled streets and iron railed walk-ways is sure to transport you to a time of bygone era and make a great photo opportunity!

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Yo-ho-yo-ho a pirates life for me!

Today Lake Nicaragua is known for its fishing, scuba diving and stunning scenery of peaceful shores. However, Lake Nicaragua hasn’t always been peaceful.

Between 1665 and 1857 Lake Nicaragua was home to pirates! Pirates and rogue soldiers, also known as filibusters and freebooters, found enjoyment from plundering the local lakeside communities. Pirates

Since Lake Nicaragua is connected to the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River, this area became a main trading center with Granada as the primary hub. Thus, Granada was a constant target of marauding pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy which began in the mid-1600s. Think of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film with more pillage and plunder and an overall stench to really get an idea of what this era may have looked like. Pirates

Henry Morgan, a famous pirate, first invaded Granada in 1655 by navigating the San Juan River with six twelve-meter long canoes stolen during a raid on Villahermosa in Mexico. Moving under cover of darkness they managed to cross the Lake and make a surprise attack on the city before the Spanish authorities had time to respond. They set fire to all the Spanish boats and made off with around half a million sterling silver pounds!
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Due to the large amount of pillaging Spanish authorities built a massive Fortress in 1673 alongside the San Juan River which you can still visit today. While this did deter some piracy, during the latter part of the 1600s, pirates founded their own towns on Lake Nicaragua, using them as bases from which to attack other villages and towns instead constantly travelling up the river. Today, two of these pirate towns are still in existence, that of Bluefields and Pueblo Veijo. Who knows maybe there is still some buried treasure hidden there!
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Unfortunately for the residents on Lake Nicaragua, much piracy continued until the development of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s,when the trade route through Lake Nicaragua was no longer required.

Today, there are many stories and legends about the great pirates who pillaged and burned leaving hidden treasure behind and Jicaro Island Eco Lodge is a great base camp for the pirate story seekers; Jicaro is a place where the old stories and myths are there for the traveler to discover and wonder.

Who knows!? You might find a treasure chest in your walk around the Island.

Fresh water…Sharks?!!

Mostly unknown by visitors, tucked away almost 120 miles from the salty waters of the Caribbean Sea, fresh water sharks patrol Lake Nicaragua. Here, the fresh water provides no sanctuary for swimming animals; this shark’s comfort in fresh water is unusual among their kin.

The sharks inhabiting Lake Nicaragua are bull sharks (Charcharinus leucus). Bull sharks are medium to large sharks that can reach more than 11 feet in length. Bull sharks were named so because of similar characteristics to a bull on land; they possess stocky bodies and an often aggressive with an unpredictable nature.

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While Lake Nicaragua is only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean at some points, it does not connect to it. The only navigable route to salt water is via the San Juan River, which is passable for small boats with drafts of less than 3 feet. Covering almost 4,500 square miles, Lake Nicaragua is a relatively shallow body of water, with an average depth of about 40 feet.

For some time scientists thought the sharks inhabiting Lake Nicaragua were a separate species and tagged some sharks for research purposes. Later, scientists discovered these same sharks swimming in the Caribbean, effectively demonstrating that the sharks were able to travel the nearly 120-mile journey up the San Juan River. This proved that the sharks in Lake Nicaragua were not a unique species.

The habitat preferences of bull sharks vary with their age, and populations from different geographic regions adapt to their habitats differently. In general, young bull sharks are born in coastal waterways and estuaries. They spend their youths in these shallow and relatively predator-free environments before moving into the more open habitats that their parents frequent. As a species, bull sharks are remarkably adaptable, and are able to thrive in a variety of habitats.

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Even though there are sharks in the water, Jicaro is not located near the areas sharks have been spotted. Due to the massive size of the lake, and the dwindling population of fresh water sharks, you are unlikely to see one even if you wanted to.

Volcano adventure tours in Nicaragua

There’s been a lot of talk about the recent gas release of the Telica Volcano but there’s so much more to see when it comes to the volcanoes of Nicaragua. We have some amazing volcano adventures planned for you that are safe and exciting. Situated 10 km outside of Granada, the Mombacho Volcano is fully accessible by road and the drive will surely leave you hanging off the edge of your seat. 1
On your way, up enjoy the scenery of the local coffee plantations. Later, prepare to be awe inspired when you gaze upon the cloud forest that covers most of the volcanoes upper region. Mombacho Volcano is one of two locations in the entire Pacific where this type of forest can be found. 2
If you’ve ever wondered what a bird feels like when it flies over the canopy then you should take part in this exceptional zip-line adventure tour with Canopy Miravalles, located just 25 minutes away from Jicaro on the slopes of Mombacho Volcano. The experienced guides will prepare your harnesses for this ride. Then let go and fly over the canopy trees using the 11 platforms and cables for over 200 meters. Once you feel confident, ask the guides for tricks like zipping upside down or flying like superman! Make sure you bring your camera because this is sure to be a memorable experience!
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If you feel adventurous and want to do something harder, spend the day in Mombacho natural reserve and take a 2 ½ hour hike up the volcano. On your journey expect to see a wide variety of wildlife including howler and white face monkeys, as well as snakes, deer, reptiles, birds, and insects. If you are lucky, you might even spot the Mombacho salamander which can only be found on the Mombacho volcano! 3
If you are a true nature lover, visit the Mombacho Biological Station to learn more about the unique species living in the area.Later, climb to “La Roca” lookout to appreciate one of the most beautiful views of Granada’s Island, Zapatera, and the volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua. Feel the breeze, enjoy nature and make sure to take a break, enjoy a hearty picnic lunch and get ready for your next great excursion.

This is one adventure tour you do not want to miss!

The Greatest Family Vacation of the World!

Hoping on a swing!

Jicaro Eco Lodge and its sister hotels in the Cayuga Collection are inviting you to come down south and help us create the greatest green and sustainable family vacation in the world! You an apply through the Cayuga Collection website to help us with this vision.

Nicaragua is the place TO BE in 2015!  And how could it not? just at Lake Nicaragua you can go on an Island Tour, learn about pirate legends and search for pirate treasure along the many white sanded beaches that surround our lodge, kayak and stand up paddle.While you are here, there is also the possibility of taking a day trip to Granada and get immersed in the culture and culinary delights that this great city has to offer in the company of your entire family.

We recognize the power that a holiday can have on a family’s happiness and furthermore, we have seen first hand how a sustainable family vacation can leave a lasting impact on the environmental habits of the participants and we want your help to show others how green we can be.

Using the double kayak can be fun! Saves on paddle power.

Using the double kayak can be fun! Saves on paddle power.

Our participating properties are:
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula: Literally in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by nature and wildlife, a true tropical Costa Rican experience.
Harmony Hotel Nosara: Laid back with yoga and spa for mum, amazing beach and surfing for everyone else, and the juice bar and sushi bar are not to be missed!
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn: Amazing culinary tours, birding, volcanoes, cloud forests and zip lines close at hand.
Arenas del Mar Resort in Manuel Antonio: The best of both worlds, with rainforests and ocean on either side, full service spa, and outstanding food.
Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Lake Nicaragua: Choose a lake experience, with swimming, kayaking volcano explorations, exploring the streets of nearby Granada and Baseball with the local kids.
Latitude 10 Resort in Santa Teresa: Family Surf Vacation or some horseback riding along the beach. Staying in your own private casita has many perks.
Hotel Grano de Oro in San Jose: Exploring the vibrant capital city of Costa Rica, colonial charm with museums, theater and great restaurants close by.
You can apply here and deadline is May 17th.

Beautiful People

View from Jicaro at Lake Nicaragua

Recently, Nicaragua and Jicaro Lodge were featured in United Airlines’ Hemispheres Magazine, the article spoke about all the wonderful adventures and relaxation time you can have in Nicaragua and of the different places you should visit while in our beautiful country. Jicaro EcoLodge was extensively featured in the article and that made us very proud.

However, what made us really swell up with pride was the following passage, that speaks to the warmth and wonderful worldview of our Nicaraguan people.

“While I wait for my meal, William reveals that he has spent three decades living in various South and Central American countries. The last eight years he has spent here in Granada, not far from the market, where he eats breakfast every day. When I ask why he settled here, he tells a story about a doctor’s visit when he first arrived. “I was really sick, and they paid for everything. I told the doctor I wasn’t a citizen and he said, ‘You’re a person, aren’t you?’”

Guests and school children

This is what we think makes Nicaragua so special, and we hope you get to witness this in person some day.

For the full article you can go to http://www.hemispheresmagazine.com/2015/03/01/three-perfect-days-nicaragua/3/ or you will find it in your seat pouch when you book your trip to Nicaragua with United.

Nos Vemos!

Luxury and Sustainability.

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Every day we hear or read on the news and social media  how business and ecological preservation are at odds with each other. Oil pipelines, dams, industrial manufacturing developments, and Gran Turismo resorts promise progress and economical well being at the expense of our planet. The general sentiment is that  this is a zero sum game where you can either have a profitable, first class business or you can be ecologically and socially responsible.

However, we at Jicaro Ecolodge think differently. The corner stones of  our business model at Jicaro Ecolodge, and of the Cayuga Collection in general, are sustainability and luxury. We believe that it is possible to have the best of both worlds and our actions speak louder than words.

Jicaro strives to reconcile a taste for luxury living with a consciousness of the environment. The showers in each of the nine lakefront bungalows are heated by solar panels, and the rooms are cooled by cross ventilation rather than air conditioning, and our wastewater is treated on the island with a treatment plant complying not only with Nicaraguan but internationally accepted standards.

Hiring of a local staff is essential to the success of the lodge. We want to spread the potential wealth that tourism brings to Nicaragua by hiring locals as employees, subcontracting services locally and buying and producing locally.

This measures however don’t take away form our guests’ luxury experience as our little Island offers a  full service spa, a saltwater infinity pool, a sunset-facing yoga deck and a fancy alfresco restaurant where the chef can customize a dinner menu from local ingredients.

Prawn tacos with rice and tomato and corn salsa

 

In collaboration with US-based  Earth Equilibrium, Jicaro has developed a community-based outreach program focused on the support and implementation of educational projects that encourage sustainable community development. At the forefront of these projects you can find the Padre Nello School.

Padre Nello School is located just a short boat ride away from Jicaro on the mainland shores of Lake Nicaragua. Approximately 88 children attend Padre Nello School every day, Monday through Friday, from 7:00am until noon. The school has just 4 classrooms: one which is used for kindergarten and the other three for elementary education. Each classroom is used to instruct two different grade levels simultaneously by one teacher.

You can mix business with sustainability, we are a living proof of that. All you need is to commit truly to an idea and an aspiration, with out compromising the core values you started with.

 

 

Yoga tips for beginners

Yoga classes at Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Nicaragua

One of the many activities you can take part on while staying with us at Jicaro Island Eco Lodge is Yoga.

Yoga classes take place on a purpose built yoga deck that looks toward the lake and the Mombacho volcano, from beginner to advanced classes and touching on 3 different variations of yoga, the experience is one you cannot miss while visiting us.

The tranquility, and sensory activation you achieve through yoga are now world famous, and many people take on this activity every year. If you are thinking about joining us, Yoga enthusiasts, for the first time at Jicaro Lodge or you might be thinking of taking a few classes before making your way down to Nicaragua here are a few tips for beginners that will make your experience even more enjoyable.

Invest in a yoga mat.

This may seem like a smaller matter, but the security that comes from firm footing is hard to overrate. If you have never tried a mat before, borrow a friend’s so that you can feel the difference it makes. There are several sustainable mat options and most yoga specialized stores carry them, make sure to read the label.

Balance postures with meditation.

These days most yoga classes heavily emphasize  postures and focus solely on the physical practice. Some teachers do not include meditation in the class routine at all. But you should make sure that these two become a habit for you during your routine, it will make your experience a whole one and your yoga time of the day not only an athletic activity but a spiritual one as well.

Yoga in the warm afternoon!

Yoga in the warm afternoon!

The Place to Be in 2015.

Green Lake Water Nicaragua

Nicaragua has been getting a lot of attention lately, from Conde Nast Traveler and Lonely Planet to National Geographic, we have made every important list of the destinations you must visit in 2015.

But even with all of this new attention Nicaragua remains still a hidden  treasure, a land that can offer its visitors not only sandy beaches and sun bathing but also beautiful colonial cities like Granada, pirate forts, volcanoes and of course Lake Nicaragua, a calm water body where you can dive, kayak, boat, fish or hunt for pirate treasure.

This rapid growth however brings a new challenge for  tourism  services providers like Jicaro Island Eco-Lodge and that challenge is to remain true to our initial commitment to ecotourism, sustainability and giving back to the community in which we conduct business while, at the same time, staying at the forefront of tourism development in Nicaragua.

It is important that this new enthusiasm for our country has a positive developmental effect on all sectors of society, for 2015 our goal is to remain true to this commitment and with this lead the way to a better Nicaragua and better experiences for tourists from all over the  world.

Beautiful view of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake

Some articles on Nicaragua:

National Geographic

http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/trips/family-trips/nicaragua/

Lonely Planet

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/countries/04-nicaragua

Conde Nast Traveler

http://www.cntraveller.com/guides/south-america/nicaragua

Pirate Adventures in Nicaragua

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Throughout the history of Nicaragua, pirates have played an unsavory role. Most of Nicaragua’s towns and villages were  plundered by pirates, leaving Nicaraguans to rebuild their towns and lives, many times over. Even though the role of the pirates in Nicaragua was negative during the time it lasted, the folklore left behind many legends, stories and myths that are still told today.

Over and over again pirates came from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands came to Nicaragua and with so many famous pirates making the rounds one has to wonder how many lost their vessels in battles against the English and Spanish. And are some of those vessels still filled with precious jewels, gold and artifacts?

This is yet another attraction of Nicaragua and Jicaro Island. Pirates used to come into Lake Nicaragua from the Caribbean Sea using the San Juan River and over the years the lake became one of the primary spots for pirate activity during the 1600s.

Right in the middle of lake Nicaragua, Jicaro Island Eco Lodge is a great base camp for the pirate story seekers; Jicaro is a place where the old stories and myths are there for the traveler to discover and wonder.

Who knows!? you might find a treasure chest in your walk around the Island.

Beautiful view of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake