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Scientists Go Sandboarding (and more) in Nicaragua


Long-time Wildland travelers, Duke and Gabrielle, wanted to escape the winter doldrums for the tropics and asked me to create a custom version of our Nicaragua Highlands and Islands Adventure trip. Duke and Gabrielle are serious and experienced travelers and they both have the inquisitive minds of retired scientists. They appreciate more in-depth nature and cultural experiences so we put together a trip for them that met all of their desires.

"We enjoyed the entire trip. This was a custom itinerary and we appreciated the opportunity to work with Grettel so we could play an active role in the design, as we wanted to experience colonial cities, rainforest and Caribbean islands."

They loved the unique activities Nicaragua offers such as the sandboarding and seeing active volcanoes. They raved about their guide and driver and highly recommend them. 

"The Juan Venado boat ride and birding was fabulous. Sand boarding down Cerro Negro Volcano was one of the most unique experiences we've ever had; we didn't know such an activity existed. Mombacho Canopy zip-lining was great fun too and Little Corn Island was beautiful. Another first experience on this trip was the opportunity to stand at Santiago Volcano crater's edge and watch magma flowing and spitting up at the Masaya Volcano National Park. Seeing an active volcano spewing lava with roaring sounds was an amazing experience!"

"Our guide, Julio, was simply outstanding at all levels. His expertise about Nicaragua's history, geology, geography, flora, fauna, and especially birds was fantastic. What he was not sure of he always had reference material readily at hand to look up the information. Julio has a wonderful sense of humor, a bright engaging personality and was delightful to be around, which was a good thing since we were around him for 10 days. When walking through the streets of Granada with him, where he now lives, he was a bloody rock star. Folks going by on bikes, in cars, people in shops or restaurants would yell out "Hey Julio," and a brief jovial chat would ensue. Many of these folks made it a point to inform us that we had Nicaragua's best guide, they got no dispute from us."

"Our driver, Guillermo was a hoot. First and foremost, he was an excellent driver, very safe, and attentive. Although his English was not as good as Julio's (which was excellent) he was readily understandable. The rapport between Julio and Guillermo was a pleasure to observe and be part of during our trip. It's clear they are very compatible and both went out of their way to make sure we were extremely well taken care of at all times."

Nicaraguan is not generally acclaimed for it's cuisine, even though they have many delicious unique foods and an abundance of seafood, so Duke and Gabrielle had lowered their expectations but were pleasently surprised. 

"As far as meals, we generally eat great, so the culinary bar is very high. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised at the quality compared with expectation. We really liked the Churrasco-style beef."

They enjoyed learning about chocolate, even making their own and they were touched by their visit to the Tio Antonio Social Center, a home for young people. Tio Antonio first moved to Nicarauga to start a restaurant but after learning more about Nicaragua and the poverty that much of the country lives in he was moved try to help in some way. He founded the center and works with young people, many of whom are deaf or blind, giving them shelter and helping them earn income by making hamocks, working in the social center's resaurant or selling coffee. Giving young people purpose and dignity that they would otherwise not have, is a labor of love for Tio Antonio and we always love sending travelers their if they are interestested.

"We very much enjoyed the Choco Museum and the opportunity to make our own chocolate. The El Castillo del Cacao tour was pretty neat; it was fun meeting and observing the three ladies turning cocoa into delightful chocolate treats."The visit to Tio Antonio Social Center was a moving experience. What an extraordinary man and project."

I am so happy that Duke and Gabrielle has such a great experience in Nicaragua! It was a pleasure planning the trip with them. If you are interested in traveling to Nicaragua or elsewhere in Central America or Cuba, give me a call and I would be happy to chat!

Your friendly Nicaragua expert,

Grettel Caldron

Advice for Wildland travelers to Nicaragua: "Enjoy, you are going to have a great time and by all means request Julio and Guillermo!" Duke & Gabrielle Virca

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