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March 15, 2012

Our first stop in Nicaragua was a town called Esteli where  a swimming pool complex made the ideal stop over for the night. In the morning after checking out the fairly nondescript town of Estelli we headed North on a rough dirt road to the mountain region of Miraflor. The road from Estelli is unpaved and in the dry season is pretty rough in parts but does not need 4 wheel drive – some bits are very steep though and pretty rocky.

The Area Protegida Miraflor is an upland area ranging from 800m to 1400m which is a mix of farmland and primary forest. The way of life here is much as it has been for the last 100 years and the horse is the major form of transport.

We had read online about a small Finca called Lindos Ojos. This has some  10 rooms and is run by an expat German guy. When we arrived we were welcomed to camp on the lawn out front which we managed after negotiating the very tight entrance gate.

As soon as we arrived Sarah got chatting with one of the guides and arranged for us to do a horse ride to a local waterfall. Those who know me will also know my aversion to horses but I agreed anyway.

The horses were in good condition and very responsive. On the way out we took it very easy as we rode down the main highway – a narrow dirt road. The waterfall itself was fairly small but pretty and had a fairly cool pool where I went for a quick dip.

The way back to the finca was much more interesting as Sarah decided to go for a bit of a canter. Her horse decided that this meant a full gallop and it went tearing away down the road. She couldn’t stop it and just had to hold on and wait for it to slow down. At one stage she flew past a group of local lads who shouted “Yee ha” as she went past.

The guide and I trotted after her and finally caught up at which stage the guide informed Sarah that the horse was “loco” and laughed ! We made it back without too much misadventure after this.

Once back at the finca we had a communal dinner with the other guest which was nice particularly as one of the other couples were British. We hadn’t seen anyone British for some time.

The next morning we arranged a guided walk through the local forest which was really interesting.  At one stage the guide asked us to stop and then pointed to a very poisonous Coral Snake which was crossing the path in front of us. The phrase “Red on Yellow kill a fella” went through our heads when we saw it.

The area is very beautiful and there is a really good mix of small holdings of coffee, cocoa and undeveloped forest. One of the best features is the sheer size of some of the trees – they dwarf the biggest Oak in the UK.

On the walk about we stopped off at a pretty cool tree house. As we climbed up and in we startled a woman who was asleep on a bed in there but our guide seemed to think this was fine and led us out to the viewpoint.

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