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.

vsco-social

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!

vsco-journal-post-8

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

Razones-por-las-que-nunca-deberías-visitar-Nicaragua-1-730x485

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.

 

Why Visit Nicaragua? An article by Jen Murphy

Journalist Jen Murphy visited Nicaragua at the end of last year and wrote a pretty convincing article on why Nicaragua is a place you must put in your bucket list.

We have transcribed a part of her piece here but you can read the complete article at:

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/eco-travel-guide-nicaragua

Click here for reservations.

“Do you know why Nicaragua is like Justin Timberlake?” my driver asks as he changes the radio from JT’s “SexyBack” to baseball. I rack my brain (boy bands? Britney Spears? The Social Network?), then give up with a shrug. “We are a country that is able to reinvent itself over and over again,” he says.

Nicaragua has reinvented itself even more often than Timberlake has. The Somoza dictatorship that began in the 1930s led to almost five decades of revolutions and counterrevolutions, interrupted by a devastating earthquake in 1972. The ’80s brought violent conflict between the leftist Sandinista government and American-backed Contra rebels. All of which explains why my friends were baffled when I told them I would be going, by myself, to Nicaragua for a vacation. Wasn’t it dangerous? Where would I stay? And more importantly, what would I eat? Why not just visit Costa Rica?….

Green Lake Water Nicaragua

Nicaragua has yet to attract the big luxury hotel chains. Instead, I stay at small, stylish, sustainable hotels like the new Jicaro Island Ecolodge. A 15-minute boat ride from the colonial city of Granada, Jicaro is hidden among 300-some isletas that formed when the Mombacho volcano erupted thousands of years ago, scattering debris into Lake Nicaragua. Run by the team from Costa Rica’s much-lauded eco-properties Lapa Rios and Latitude 10, Jicaro is very sustainable. Recycled wastewater irrigates the jicaro trees for which it is named; the wood for the nine Japanese-style casitas came from trees that were downed by Hurricane Felix in 2007….

Beautiful view of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake

 

Winter Promotion for Jicaro Eco Lodge in Nicaragua

Cheers from Nicaragua, the safest country in Nicaragua

Cheers from Nicaragua

The Holiday season has been a busy one, we have explored the lake, cooked up a storm and had some amazing yoga classes with our guests.

We have met awesome people during the holiday season but we have not stopped thinking about our friends all around the world that have not had the chance to visit Jicaro Eco Lodge yet.

Beautiful view of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake

This is why we have created a promotion for the rest of the North American Winter Season:

January 5th – April 19th, 2016
Stay 4 nights, get the 5th night free –

Come and enjoy Lake Nicaragua and the colonial master piece of Granada, this is an opportunity you cannot miss!

 

Beginner Stand-up Paddling Tips

A guest going for a standing paddle board on Lake Nicaragua

A guest going for a standing paddle board on Lake Nicaragua

Look at the horizon

When we first start paddling the natural temptation is to look down at the board, However for the best stability, you want to keep your head up, back straight and your body weight over your toes.

Watch the wind

It’s important to know the conditions when you paddle out. Also to know the forecast so you are aware of any possible changes coming. When you’re standing on your SUP, you are like a sail in the wind. If you’re ever caught in an unfavourable wind change, lay down with your paddle tucked under you and paddle the board like a regular surfboard. This is called paddling prone. Lake Nicaragua is usually pretty safe and our staff can guide you through your first experience.

Couple paddleboarding on Lake Nicaragua

 

Paddling with your core

Don’t use your arms. This may sound a little weird at first but paddling is best done by your core. These are the strongest muscles of your body and provide the most effective power for your paddle stroke. Standing up tall and using just your arms to paddle, will be very tiring and you won’t get much power.

 

Peter Sterios’ Annual Yoga Retreat at Jicaro

As you may know by now, Jicaro Ecolodge is a big Yoga enthusiast and we offer daily yoga classes at our lodge. We love yoga so much and our location and property inspire such tranquility and peace that Adrienne Ward, owner of Big World Small Planet has chosen Jicaro as a venue for her world famous Yoga retreats and experiences.

On that note, 2016 will once again feature the Peter Sterios Retreat. Peter’s 5th annual retreat is designed to be a true one-of-a-kind experience.

 

 

Peter Sterios has been part of the American yoga community for over three decades and is an internationally recognized teacher based in San Luis Obispo, California. His popular video Gravity & Grace, was honored by Yoga Journal in their top 15 yoga DVDs of all time (2008). He is the creator of Manduka, a leading eco-yoga products company based in LA (1997). Peter is a writer, with articles appearing in Yoga Journal, Elephant Journal, Fit Yoga, and LA Yoga; an award winning green architect, specializing in retreat centers and yoga studios nationally and internationally; and co-founder of karmaNICA, a charitable organization for impoverished kids in western Nicaragua (www.karmanica.org). For the last three years, he was in a select group invited to teach yoga at the White House for Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative. Peter’s teaching offers a unique insight to the evolving art of yoga, and his light-handed approach makes this accessible to any with a desire to learn.

This retreat week is designed to give you a taste of Granada’s city life with its colonial esthetic, interesting history and pedestrian-friendly streets as well as the beauty of an exquisite island surrounded by views of the stunning Mombacho Volcano.

Sunset over Mombacho Volcano from Jicaro Island Ecolodge

What makes this retreat incredibly unique? During the week, Peter will be hosting the largest yoga class ever held in Nicaragua. The event will take place in the colonial city of Granada where our yoga group will stay and practice for the first two nights of the retreat. It’s an opportunity to be part of this historic occasion and to literally step into the culture and vibrancy of which Nicaragua has become recognized.

Continuing on throughout the week, we will travel by boat to Jicaro Ecolodge, an exclusive island which provides the perfect setting to delve deeper into your personal yoga practice while balancing time to relax & recharge. Sounds of the tranquil lake waters and surrounding nature literally soothe the mind and set the tone for a peaceful, soul-enriching stay on the island.

Package Price

Single: $2945 | Double: $2395 per person

The 6-night/7-day travel experience will include:

  • 2 nights at Hotel Los Patios in the historical city of Granada
  • 4 nights at Jicaro Island Ecolodge
  • Round-trip ground transportation from Managua Airport to Granada
  • Round-trip boat transfer to Jicaro Island
  • Breakfast & Dinners in Granada
  • All Meals on Jicaro Island (Vegetarian Options Available)
  • 2x Daily Yoga Practice & Group Discussions w. Peter

Airfare, staff gratuities and alcohol not included.

If you want to learn more or book, please click here.