Although I couldn’t get all the way down the Río San Juan, I wanted to go as far as possible. So from El Castillo I headed down to the Refugio Bartola (about 8 km further on) where there is a rustic hotel, plenty of hiking trails and the Río Bartola to explore. It is right on the boundary of the Indio-Maíz Reserve – one of the best preserved natural reserves in Nicaragua – something to explore in a future trip when it is not so dry!
After spending the last week or so on and off boats, I was pretty keen to do some hiking and so headed out on both my days there with Bismark (one of the locals who knew the trails) to see what we could see and get a bit of exercise.
It was so hot and humid (even at 4pm) that sweat was running off me before we started moving (no, I don’t understand how Nicaraguans can bear to wear jeans and long sleeved tops all the time!), and although I borrowed gumboots for the hike – it was so dry that they really weren’t needed (though clearly they would be if the weather was more typical – there would be a lot of mud).
Although Bismark wasn’t strictly a “guide”, as we walked around, he explained what he knew about the trees and was pretty good a spotting animals as well! Favourite moments:
Spotting poisonous frogs
Learning about the Almendro tree (this is the seed) – an ecosystem within itself.
Spotting birds and animals
Getting chased by some very territorial spider monkeys!
And relaxing on the terrace back at the hotel. Gorgeous view of course 🙂