The special island Eco-Lodge on Lake Nicaragua, Jicaro.
We landed in small and easily forgettable Managua, Nicaragua – the capital of a country with such a tumultuous political past. We were immediately met by our driver before stopping at the local “pulperia” to provision some cold beers, cokes, and snacks for the hour drive south towards Granada and to the enormous and beautiful Lake Nicaragua. At the shores of Central America’s largest lake, we boarded our small “lancha” to motor our way among the hundreds of islets, formed by volcanic rock from a 20 million-year-old eruption to Jicaro Island, our home for the next several days.
The architecturally stunning Jicaro Island is a tiny eco-island comprised of 9 wood and stone duplex casitas. If visiting true Central America, off the beaten path, where service is both attentive and genuine, the locals far outnumber the tourists, the dollar goes a long way but the flight does not, then Nicaragua may be for you.
The staff of 20 who also boat in to work from the mainland, sometimes along with the guests, could not be nicer! Everyone does a bit of everything from serving fresh fruit drinks, amazing organic and fresh Central American specialties, escorting guests for hikes up the Mombacho Volcano or fishing on the lake, to hanging hammocks, and tending to the comfortable suites.
The difference between Nicaragua and other better-discovered Central American countries is the lack of crowd. An example is on the zip line canopy tour, our family of four had three professional guides to our self rather than being herded above the trees with a group of 30. Our 4-hour hike up to the volcano at Mombacho was accompanied by the hotel guide and a naturalist from the National Park Service. Everywhere we went we jumped on transport with the locals and even in historic Granada (the oldest colonized city in the Americas), we enjoyed Sunday lunch among local “Nicaraguense”.
The resort itself recycles all of its water from Lake Nicaragua, including the ultra-filtered drinking water, which is delicious. Electricity and intranet work very well and all day long, no easy feat in the third world especially on a self-sustaining island. Keeping in line with its status as an eco-retreat, there is no air-conditioning but the guest suites are fully screened and have fans and often-decent breezes. The resort is largely an outdoor building connected by corridors and stone paths, as is typical of Central America, thus bugs, lizards, and heavy rains during each afternoon in green season (May-November) are just the way things roll. Many travelers including myself, much prefer the green season to the very dry and sunny Equatorial dry season (December-April), but to each his own.
Jicaro is ideal for a couples’ get-a-way, special occasion take-over, or an independent holiday for travelers seeking nature, well-being, relaxation, and romance with an authentic Central American feel. Culture, history, and active adventures are an option just of the lake. More importantly, the price is fantastic and it is easy to get to for a long weekend or to settle in away from the world for a while. A great find!!!
To read more, please see my article published in Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine – http://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/nicaragua/nicaragua