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Nicaragua designates Corn Islands as tourism patrimony


Nicaragua lawmakers have designated the Corn Islands as “National Tourism Patrimony”– a classification that, in theory, will coordinate national and regional government institutions to promote sustainable tourism and improve infrastructure on the twin islands. In a rare show of bipartisan support, Nicaraguan lawmakers on both sides of the divide voted in favor of the law, which aims to add another 150 hotel rooms across Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island, bringing the total number of rooms to 650. The law will also coordinate efforts among the National Port Authority, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the local authorities to improve airport and seaport infrastructure on the Caribbean islands. “An island without an airport or a seaport has no future–this infrastructure is a fundamental factor for development,” said opposition congressman Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, president of the National Assembly’s Tourism Commission. Continue Reading →

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Eco-farm tourism brings economic boost to coffee country

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MATAGALPA—In the crisp, verdant hills of northern Nicaragua, coffee production has not only pinned Nicaragua on the global map as an exporter of world-class java, but it is also launching a new wave of ecotourism jobs in rural communities that have long been excluded from economic development. Though many successful coffee farms were abandoned in the 1980s and 1990s due to civil war, political instability and economic ruin, the past 15 years has seen a resurgence of the country’s central highlands, where fresh water streams, lush vegetation and cool mountainous temperatures provide ideal growing conditions for coffee—and also ecotourism. As Nicaragua continues to make a name for itself as an international travel destination, the country’s old and new economies are joining forces in the mountains of Matagalpa for a unique brand of coffee-farm ecotourism. Many fincas that were once dedicated exclusively to coffee production are now expanding their operations to include hotels, farm-to-table restaurants, research stations, bird-watching tours, nature hikes and other family fun that allows visitors to experience how a traditional farm works. The embrace of eco-farm tourism is opening a new door of economic opportunity in an area that didn’t get too many outside visitors before. Continue Reading →

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5 tips for crossing the border by bus


Opinion. Slip off the shoes, whip out the plastic bag of 3.4-oz. toiletries, isolate the laptop in the bin, chug the last of the liquids, and pray to the TSA gods that it’s not your turn for a patdown. As frequent fliers, we at GreenSpot Travel have the airport screening process down pat. Unfortunately, that routine is no preparation for a Central American border crossing. Continue Reading →

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The things they carry—backpackers then and now

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Volcán Concepción dominates the entire northern end of the island. It rises dramatically out of the lake, conjuring those iconic images of Mt. Fuji, but with a cotton candy tuft of cloud permanently affixed to the peak instead of snow. Maderas, its smaller, extinct cousin, sulks to the south where it sits, shaggy, neglected and looking generally forlorn. Ometepe Island is an out-of-the-way place and though it really doesn’t qualify as being remote, it is a lovely backwater by most standards—off the grid and the beaten path as well. Continue Reading →

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Has Nicaragua gone mainstream?

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Editorial. After years of budding tourism growth, Nicaragua is suddenly coming into bloom as the new darling of the mainstream travel industry from New York to London. In the past few months, Nicaragua has made U.S. News & World Report’s lists of top colonial retirement destinations and Best Overseas Retirement Options, was named the No. 1 “Emerging Destination” by Wanderlust Travel, and ranked No. 3 on the New York Times’ list of 46 places to visit this year. Continue Reading →

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Adventures in cacao country


Sure, I really like chocolate, who doesn’t? But for me, a trip to the northern reaches of Nicaragua was just a chance to explore some unfamiliar countryside and shake off the heat-induced ennui that had settled over me during the previous few months in Granada. For the artisan chocolate maker I had just met from Lithuania and his fellow countryman, our recent trip north was an experience of a lifetime—a holy chocolate pilgrimage of sorts. Originally, the three of us agreed on a dawn departure to get an early start on our mission to learn about cacao cultivation in Nicaragua. But early starts can be a problem in Nicaragua. Continue Reading →

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Greytown Journal: tourism breathes new life into old ghost town


GREYTOWN—In the outermost reaches of the Nicaragua’s southern jungle frontier, on an alluvial headland overlooking the mouth of the mesmerizing Río San Juan, an international group of ecotourism pioneers is endeavoring to build a wildlife refuge that will be Nicaragua’s answer to Jurassic Park. The proposed 100-acre animal refuge will be enclosed within a tall perimeter fence with catwalks leading to tree-top viewing platforms where tourists can sip on a Flor de Caña while witnessing the jaguars’ feeding hour on the jungle floor below.  With an estimated construction cost of $300,000, the private animal reserve will be built in the fecund rainforest of Greytown’s Río Indio Lodge. Once completed by the end of 2013, the animal refuge will be home to a variety of wild cats—cougars, jaguars, ocelots and margay—as well as separate areas for tapirs, white-faced peccaries, deer, foxes and other wildlife rescued by Nicaraguan environmental authorities from the filthy clutches of rapacious poachers and animal traffickers. The tribes of monkeys that move through the trees with loud confidence will continue to come and go as they please along the branches spanning the fence line. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua should aim higher than safest country in Central America


Editorial. Nicaragua, it seems, has had an image problem for as long as it has had an image. Part of Nicaragua’s eternal public-relations predicament is a monster of its own making, while the other half is due to the collective ignorance of the lumpish masses who think that Nicaragua is A) a country in Africa, B) a country in the grips of civil war, or C) all of the above. Nicaragua’s extreme image makeover during the past decade, following years of revolution and counterrevolution, has recast the country as “the safest in Central America.”

The campaign has worked. It’s no longer uncommon to hear people repeatedly giving Nicaragua that badge of honor. Continue Reading →

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