A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to visit Nicaragua from one of my all time favorite travel industry people (shout out to Bea!). Since booking my flights and sharing with family and friends that I’d be visiting this little gem in Central America, I’ve been met with an overwhelming response of, “Nicaragua?! WHY?”
I’m always a little astounded by this question, regardless of destination, because the beauty of traveling to any new place is reason enough for me to go. The only why I need is the thrill of discovery. When Bea told me about this new property she was representing, a luxury sporting lodge in the Pacific Countryside of Nicaragua called Nekupe, I was already enamored.
For those of you still cocking your heads and wondering what it is that this country has to offer, I’m happy to share my insight, specifically from the perspective of visiting Nekupe.
I want you to take a minute to envision the sights, sounds, and nature you dream of when you think of a luxury African safari. True, the Big 5 are not running around here – maybe the Little 5 if you count monkeys and wild boars and anteaters – but the idea of complete immersion into nature without sacrificing your creature comforts for critter comforts is spot-on. Take that vision and mold it into the idea of a five-star Montana dude ranch and all of its activities – from horseback riding to rifle shooting and everything in between.
For me, this has meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ve never been shy about my aversion to the outdoors, unless you count taste-testing piña coladas on beaches around the world an outdoor activity (why else do you think I made Wendy’s WOW List as the Caribbean expert?!). I just don’t look at a mountain and think “I sure wish I could climb that” nor do I look at an animal and think “I sure wish I could ride that.”
Day one, hour one and my friends on this trip have already convinced me to get on a horse – I thought my first horse experience at Paws Up would truly be my last. This is a big reason that I asked one of my very best friends, Kelly, to join me on this trip. She has a relentless sense of adventure and it’s contagious. Her excitement for every single day is especially strong when traveling, which is evident in her absolute favorite word: yay! When coming up with a hashtag for this trip, I wanted to call it our #yaycation until I Googled that and Urban Dictionary informed me that it is slang for a cocaine binge. So, this is not our yaycation. That news really put a kibosh on the whole hashtag thing.
This horseback ride was much milder than my last, probably because we weren’t responsible for herding cattle and thanks to the sweetest little horse, Sinsonte, which means mockingbird in English. Sinsonte was more interested in enjoying a leisurely stroll through the river and had to be prodded to climb up a hill. I basically rode my spirit animal.
We scaled a pretty steep, yet short, mountainside trail and Sinsonte loved walking close to the edge. I learned that it’s possible to do yoga on a horse in an attempt to quiet your mind and remove yourself from your own body. There are approximately 400 other ways I’d like to climb a small mountain than on horseback, but Sinsonte got me through it. The view from the top was well worth it, especially with the stunning backdrop of the Mombacho Volcano – a site that you’ll see regularly from Nekupe.
The rest of the day was filled with even more activities, like our painting class (#nailedit):
We finished painting in a hurry so we could embark on our absolute favorite activity of the day: visiting the monkeys. Nekupe is a 2,000 acre sporting lodge with an animal reserve, complete with howler monkeys and wild boars roaming around, plus some turkeys and whatever else has decided to wander over and call this place home. Nekupe has also saved several animals, like their 6 capuchin monkeys who are cuddly and the absolute best animal on the planet. I think the pictures speak for themselves:
Each day is so jam-packed at Nekupe (in a good way!) that I couldn’t possibly squeeze it all in one post. More to come about this magical place as I continue to experience it!