Camping in the Nicaraguan cloud forest

The bus from Matagalpa to Jinotega climbs higher and higher up in the mountains. The higher we climb, the chillier it gets.
I am off to the “Datanli El Diablo” nature reserve where I will be staying at La Bastilla Ecolodge for a few days, taking in the coffee culture and the surrounding beauty of the Nicaraguan cloud forest.

A pick-up truck brings me from the main road into the forest and on to the lodge. My adrenaline is reaching peak level as we drive at very high speed on the bumpy forest tracks! Adventure!
The ecolodge is situated at a height of 1200m, in the middle of the cloud forest and the views from the main terrace are simply indescribable! Wanting to stay as close to nature as possible, I booked a tent for a few nights. From the platform I get equally magnificent views over the trees, banana- and coffee plantations and local birdlife. The first thing that strikes me though, apart from the view, is the difference in temperature with the rest of Nicaragua and the humidity. It looks like I will finally be needing the jumper and trousers that I brought along for the trip.

staying at La Bastilla Ecolodge

staying at La Bastilla Ecolodge

staying at La Bastilla Ecolodge

The mattress in the tent is pretty rough, but no complaints once I see the view after I zip the tent open. The morning dew drops gently off the leaves and the powerful sounds of the awakening fauna make me forget about the bad night straight away!

Today I plan to go a bit deeper into the forest. I start my walk together with some coffee pickers on their way to work. Once they have arrived, I find myself alone amongst the birds and butterflies and the peacefulness of the forest. I walk for quite a long time, looking for a track towards another ecolodge, but the tracks get thinner, the forest thicker and not sure of being on the right path, I decide to retrace my steps.

Another road leads to the Agricultural and Technical School, a project supported by the ecolodge. In this school, students between 15 and 18 years old learn by doing: they help out on the egg farm, the pig rearing, the ecolodge, … The school is financed by the money the ecolodge brings in. It feels good to indirectly do something for the local community! I walk around the school buildings, take a look at the students’ rota and have a chat with the director before returning to the lodge.

There are endless walking possibility in the nature reserve, so the next day I walk all the way down to the entrance of the forest, where the local bus dropped me off a few days ago. The butterflies and birds accompany me as usual, but it seems as if most wildlife is having a rest after 9am.
I pass the dormitories of the coffee pickers, the school and the huge kitchen, where a man seems to be chopping endless amounts of wood for the fire. There is almost nobody on the track apart from a few workers and even the small settlement a bit further on is almost deserted. A few children hang around observing me very closely and dogs barely lift their head when they see me passing by.

With all the lovely birdsong I’ve been hearing for the last few days, I’m curious to see the actual birds, so I decide to borrow a pair of binoculars to try and spot them. It takes some practice though: in the beginning I am barely able to locate the tree, let alone the tiny bird sitting on one of its branches, but after a while I do manage to spot a few!  I could really get used to the slow way of life here!

staying at La Bastilla Ecolodge

It’s time to leave this little corner of paradise for the big city: Managua! It looks as if I chose the right day: last night torrential rainfall broke out and this morning the sky is completely covered. It gets hotter and hotter as I approach Managua and upon arrival, the difference in temperature is so immense that I seek  refuge in an air-conditioned shopping mall. The contrast with the peaceful cloud forest couldn’t be bigger!

Have you ever camped in the cloud forest or stayed in an ecolodge? Where was it?

Share on Facebook22Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on StumbleUpon0Pin on Pinterest89

31 Replies to “Camping in the Nicaraguan cloud forest”

  1. Jess

    It is awesome to install a tent and live outside in nature.
    I do the same thing every year at least ten time and I feel wonderful.

    Reply
  2. Christine

    This looks beautiful! We went to Nicaragua but were debating whether to go up north to the coffee region. I’m so bummed we didn’t make it! Those photos are gorgeous. It looks so chill & peaceful. We’ll definitely have to check it out next time we go!

    Reply
  3. Chris Boothman

    Definitely agree with many of the other comments that suggest that this looks like a beautiful part of the world. Just being able to get away from the city lifestyle and relax in an eco-friendly lodge is a great way to relax.

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      It is indeed! At first, I was afraid to get a bit bored, but I quickly got the hang of the relaxing pace! 🙂

      Reply
  4. IntrovertlyBubbly

    I do not think I have it in me to do such camping trips but this surely let my imagination wonder…The earthy, nature and realness of this trip is refreshing…the coffee plantations and banana fields

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment! If it’s any consolation, they rented out cabanas as well 🙂

      Reply
  5. Tam @ Travelling Book Junkie

    we love camping so would seek something like this out – if we ever head this way I would definite like to experience this although I can appreciate it is not for everyone. The views look amazing and it sounds like other than the lack of sleep you had a great time. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Anu @ Country Hopping Couple

    We haven’t explored that side of the world yet, but sure want to visit central America, and Nicaragua is just added into our bucket list. The green plantations look lovely, and the bus /and fruit market around reminded me a bit of India.

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment! I think Nicaragua might be the upcoming destination in the next few years: still unspoilt and very diverse! And yes,the markets can be quite hectic indeed, haha

      Reply
  7. Alexandra C.

    How gorgeous! I have never thought about visiting Nicaragua …. but I am now. How lush and beautiful it looks. Between the greenery, the coffee and that cute pig… I think this could be a great destination to visit. Especially if the locals are friendly and helpful. 🙂 Thank you for the travel inspiration! -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    Reply
  8. Lisa Goodmurphy

    Sounds like an incredible experience! Like Hannah, I think I would be too worried about creepy-crawlies to sleep outside in a tent though. My daughter stayed at an ecolodge in the cloud forest in Ecuador on a school trip last year and her photos look very similar – they slept indoors though!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa! I checked the tent thoroughly before going to sleep though to make sure nothing was crawling on me during the night, haha!

      Reply
  9. Hannah

    Wow what an awesome experience! Although I’d be slightly (ok very) worried about giant spiders getting me at night if I was there in just a tent…I’m a big baby when it comes to that. haha.

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      I was worried about that too! Went to the bathroom in the middle of the night with eyes half closed and earplugs in so I wouldn’t see or hear any creepy crawlies, haha

      Reply
  10. Gabor Kovacs

    This is a really interesting post! Central America and Nicaragua are on my bucket list and I really enjoyed reading your adventures from there. I love sleeping in a tent, especially in such a wonderful environment! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for commenting on this, Gabor! Nicaragua is absolutely wonderful and still unspoilt!

      Reply
  11. Samantha

    This looks fun! I have never gone camping in Nicaragua… hmm that could be a great idea for my next visa run though! It’s SO hot in Managua right? I can’t stand the humidity…it kills me everytime I go there!

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Samantha! Yes, Managua is really hot! At some point we went to cool off in the air-conditioned shopping mall, haha! But in the cloud forest it’s actually quite chilly and humid, we were at a 1200m height.

      Reply
  12. Brianna

    An ecolodge among coffee plantations? That’s my kind of place. I too fell into to easy pace of life at a lodge in Costa Rica, it really allows you to notice and enjoy everything around you.

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment! It does definitely! It’s great being so close to nature and enjoy all the fauna and flora it has to offer!

      Reply
  13. lorrie

    how did you come upon getting into that adventure ? it sounds like a one of a kind experience thanks for sharing it

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      I read a lot about Nicaragua before leaving and saw that the coffee industry was a very important part of the country. This, and the fact that it was off the main tourist trail and into a beautiful part of the country, got me convinced straight away 🙂

      Reply
    • Els Post author

      Thanks for your comment Katie! Yes, if you get the opportunity next time, you definitely should! It’s a wonderful part of the country and so different than the Granada-Leon region!

      Reply
  14. Heather Cole

    What an amazing place, and definitely worth a night in a tent for the view! Reminds me of our trip to Guatemala, went on a coffee tour only to discover it was the wrong season and there was in fact no coffee. Glad you got it right 🙂

    Reply
    • Els Post author

      Haha, oh dear! Yes, there were lots of coffee plants and harvesters around. But as you say, even if there hadn’t been, the view would have made up for it! Thanks for your comment, Heather!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *