Nicaragua is adventure travel at its very best. With so few tour groups around (especially family ones!) we were quite a novelty and the local people throughout were incredibly friendly and welcoming.
One of the great highlights was playing football and volleyball with the local kids on beaches around Corn Island and during the school visit. I also got to read to the class of 4 year olds in Spanish, which was very high pressure and led to much amusement! If I was going on this trip again, I’d take some cheap cricket stuff with me and endeavour to teach the local kids a new game!
Scree running down Cerro Negro volcano was a real hit (you need decent trainers/boots for this!), as was surfing the Pacific coast – the instructors got almost half the group standing!
Peering into the huge belching Masaya Volcano was quite an experience - the sulphur vapour was quite over-powering. Just as exciting was zip wiring down the lower slopes of the volcano through coffee plantations.
Kayaking on Lake Nicaragua was great fun, ending up on a secluded island near Granada for a typical lunch of lake fish, rice, beans, salad and a platter of tropical fruit.
Playa Los Cardonnes is an exotic, beautiful beach and was where one of the unexpected highlights of the trip took place.
One evening after dinner the kids were teaching our tour leader British playground games on the beach in the dark, while the parents were trying out the Flor De Cana Rum. Suddenly there was a commotion and a cry of ‘turtle’! We all rushed down to see an Olive Ridley Turtle making its way up the beach. One of the kids mentioned that he had seen a man hanging around and wondered what he was doing – he’d been observing the turtle pull itself out of the water to lay its eggs.
Immediately the staff from the eco-lodge (surf instructors by day!) ran down and kept everyone back, and started negotiating with the guy. The eggs are a delicacy for the rich and sell in the markets of Managua for about USD2.50 per dozen. The lodge has its own hatchery and the staff immediately offered the man the market rate for the eggs.
Security and police suddenly appeared and everyone held their breath while the magnificent animal hauled itself high up on the beach and started burrowing a hole to lay her eggs. Once she started laying, the local villager dug a hole behind her so that the eggs could be retrieved.
We all moved closer with red covers over our torches, and watched in amazement as 76 ping pong ball-sized eggs were laid. The villager in rubber gloves collected the eggs, which were counted by the armed security guard before being handed over to the eco-surfers! Kids and their parents gawped with mixed feelings as the turtle laboured to fill the hole and smooth the sand over the best she could before making her way back down to the sea, probably not to return for another few years.
She swam off believing that all the eggs were safely buried - at least they have a better chance of hatching and making it to the sea now that the surflodge has them in their hatchery, and the eagle-eyed villager wasn’t out of pocket either. It was a great experience for all the kids and their parents – especially as it was out of season - how lucky were we!
I was really impressed with Nicaragua as were my family. It’s a true adventure destination with a fascinating past and loads of exciting activities that were enjoyed equally by the kids and their parents.
To read more about this family holiday, including a detailed itinerary, visit the Active Nicaragua page.