Want to horseback-ride into the sunset for a few dollars?
Do Good at the Same Time?
Paso Pacifico's magical tours into southern Nicaragua
|Don Miguel - a Nicaraguan farmer - has spent decades replanting trees to fight deforestation in the Nicaraguan dry forest along the Pacific Coast just north of Costa Rica - and he leads horseback-riding tours, too!|
Just a half hour south of the scenic, seaside town of San Juan del Sur, a cruise port and surfing spot along Nicaragua's Pacific Coast is Don Miguel's inn, Llomas de Bosques. Even if you're staying in San Juan del Sur or at port for the day, this is an easy trip south and you even have time for lunch.
If you're not one to swim with turtles, but prefer an adventure over land, Paso Pacifico offers hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking into the dry forest - replete with conversational monkeys punctuated by the endless chatter of native birds.
We chose to ride horseback with Don Miguel at the Llomas de Bosques, who has spent much of his adult life replanting thousands of trees to replenish the forest surrounding his land. We trotted past small farms of grazing cattle, where busy hens dodged playing children.
Above us in the swaying trees, howler monkeys jumped from limb to limb, the quiet punctuated by the tweets of exotic, colorful birds. Imagine seeing a bright yellow parrot on a branch, rather than in a cage!
Some locals, like Don Miguel, can perfectly imitate a monkey howl - triggering a cacophony of thunderous responses from the furry neighbors above. For those who prefer wheels to hoofs, mountain biking tours are also available, hiking, too.
Want to get a taste of rural life and climb aboard an ox-driven cart? Just minutes from the turtle refuge is the Hacienda la Flor, run by the Joseph Adam Calderon cooperative. The hardy can hike up a nearby hill to get a panoramic view of the sea, the refuge and southern Nicaragua. Back at the ranch, the farmers gently tie their oxen to a wooden wagon. Bumping along a packed dirt road, led by the gentle horned beasts, we rolled past scattered cattle, mother hens trailed by fluffy baby chicks, and goats and horses happily crunching in the fields. Suddenly, we turned into a clutch of trees, and step off into a forest floor transformed into a natural carpet of sea shells and broken pottery of past civilizations - a major find for archeologists. Back at the ranch, we were greeted by steaming coffee and a popular Nicaraguan dish, plaintain tostones topped with fresh, local cheese.
Paso Pacifico is seeking to lure visitors to Ruta del Sur so the friendly rural residents can earn a living through eco-tourism. Treasuring turtles cuts down on theft of precious turtle eggs, considered a delicacy. Tourism enables parents to pay for uniforms and school supplies for children to go to school and avoid cutting trees to farm for food. They are not forced to destroy nature to eat - but can partner with it, offering unique adventures for delighted foreign tourists.
Women and girls are central to their mission in an initiative called “Project Ellas.” Homestays are available for as little as $12 a night per person with private bath in a village where everyone greets each other with a smile. They are basic, clean accommodations, just a short walk through the forest with flush with chattering monkeys and birds to the pristine Ostional beach - a true getaway.
|Blanca of Restaurant Blanca Rosa|
Check out our Good Green Travel Facebook page to meet the women of the sleepy beachfront village of Ostional, plus the Junior Rangers, children specially trained by Paso Pacifico as biodiversity protectors, guarding turtle nesting sites and ensuring no one litters the pristine beaches!
Oh! Food! Enjoy simple dining at women-run eateries in Ostional, featuring fresh fish or chicken, farm-fresh eggs, beans and rice, fruit. For a cold drink, a beachside thatch-roofed bar offers beers for $1, your view: a cascade of pelicans plunging into the waves for food as fishermen unfurl their nets along the shore.
Their excursions are new, and cheap! So, if you have a sense of adventure, can escape luxury for a bit, and want safe, educational, earth-saving family fun, contact Paso Pacifico at firstname.lastname@example.org.