Everyone is talking about sustainability these days but what does that actually mean? How does it relate to your holiday, and what goes on behind the curtains of an eco-lodge? Jicaro has a unique story to tell on the sustainability front, which answers all these questions.
In September 2007, hurricane Felix ravaged Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast. Instead of losing strength on landfall, Felix gained strength and traveled west, leaving in its wake more than one million hectares of devastated rainforest. Luckily there was little loss of human life but the environmental impact was huge. After the hurricane, a collective of designers and builders called Simplemente Madera started working with environmental organizations, local communities and government agencies to recover fallen timber and transform it into furniture, buildings and crafts. Jicaro Island Lodge is a result of this initiative. It was built entirely from tropical hardwoods reclaimed from trees blown down by hurricane Felix. The land dictated the construction and no large trees or boulders were removed, and great care was taken to preserve the island’s character and its lush vegetation.
Guests will learn more about this story and get insights into the backstage if they sign up for the sustainability tour. You will find out how the water from the lake is processed into drinkable freshwater resources, where the grey water goes to and what happens to all the food the guests don’t eat. The 30-minute tour takes in the island and some of the staff-only areas. If you add on another 30 minutes you will visit a pig farm and learn how bio-gas is generated.
Installing Solar Panels for Padre Nello School
Harmony with nature is vital at Jicaro, and so are the links with the surrounding community. The lodge supports an impoverished elementary school on a nearby island, Padre Nello School, which guests can visit on an hour-long tour. It also educates local communities in sustainable practices, hires local staff and buys from local farmers and fishermen for the restaurant’s globally inspired menu made of local ingredients.
On the island, a number of initiatives ensure that the magic of Jicaro is safeguarded for the future. The wastewater is filtered on property and no plastic water bottles are to be found anywhere on the island. Instead, guests are provided with reusable aluminum bottles and fresh jugs of potable water in the casitas, so they can refill at will. The water for the casitas and the open-air kitchen is heated with solar panels. There is no air-conditioning—instead the casitas’ open layout and ceiling fans together provide a lovely draft.
Tucked away on a private island on Lake Nicaragua, Jicaro Island Lodge is Nicaragua’s only member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World (www.nationalgeographiclodges.com). This collection of rare experiences at carefully curated hotels features intimate encounters with remote parts of the world—and the chance to slow down and truly dive into the destination. Each lodge is deeply rooted in its community and dedicated to protecting the surrounding habitats and cultures.