Archive for the 'Rain Forest' Category

Luxury in one of the wildest rain forests of Central America

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Honduras has been catching up to other eco-destinations in Central and South America as entrepreneurs realize the potential of this country’s large areas of lowland rain forests, gorgeous coral reefs, and jade-green cloud forests. Intact ecosystems are what eco-travelers want to experience and this is what they will find in Honduras. Sure, they will also come across animal-empty banana fields and deforested areas but they will definitely have the chance to visit beautiful, untouched tropical habitats.

Some, roadless areas of the country still require major expeditions to adequately explore them but why do that when you can stay at the Pico Bonito Lodge? You will need a fair amount of money to do so but no more than what you would pay for staying at comfortable hotels in other parts of the world. Most of those other hotels also probably aren’t situated in a lush, rain forest valley filled with colorful birds and exotic animals.

Guests stay in beautiful large, furnished rooms because the lodge was built with comfort in mind, but they will also see dozens of species of birds and other wildlife because it was also designed for this purpose. The nearby rain forest is always in view through large, open windows and balconies, and highly trained local guides are on hand to help visitors see things like colorful Keel-billed Toucans, the incredible blue and purple Lovely Cotinga, Blue-crowned Motmots, Tayras (a large weasel), Coatis, Sloths, tree-frogs, and much more. Birders and non-birders alike will also love the lodge’s canopy platform for the rare glimpse it provides into this little explored level of the forest.

When guests tire of hanging out and relaxing at the lodge and canopy tower, they can hike trails that access the huge Pico Bonito National Park, including one that heads right up to the “Pico Bonito” (Pretty Peak) itself. All hiking should be done with a local guide because despite the comforts of the lodge, this is a true rain forest wilderness that harbors venomous snakes, jaguars (rarely seen but present), and the greatest danger in the forest, the chance to get lost.

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Selva Negra, Niacaragua: A blend of coffee, sustainability, and tropical forest

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Nicaragua is becoming more common as a travel destination for the adventurous eco-traveler but it still lies more or less off the beaten path. This is probably related to the fact that large tracts of the country are roadless and undeveloped with little infrastructure. At least this keeps the tropical forests of a great many places in Nicaragua intact, but it also means that even the most eco-adventurous of folks won’t be able to experience such magical areas.

Nevertheless, Nicaragua is a big enough place to provide intrepid visitors to this friendly country with a number of options. One of the best is the Selva Negra ecolodge. Selva Negra means “Black Forest” and yes they are referring to the pine-clad Bavarian land that spawned the cake of the same name. Whether the original Bavarian immigrants who founded the place gave their new home this title because of homesickness, because the surrounding cloud forests reminded them of southern Germany, or a combination of the two, we will never know. However, what is certain is that excellent German-influenced cuisine is served at the Selva Negra restaurant, including their own version of Black Forest Cake.

In addition to being an ecolodge, this eco-sanctuary of the central Nicaraguan highlands is a working farm. Flowers, organic produce, and livestock are all grown or raised on site in as sustainable a manner as possible and are sold in markets as well as providing ingredients for the restaurant. The cows and pigs also provide fertilizer and manure that is used in the gardens and in growing their excellent, organic, shade-grown coffee.

Although coffee grows faster in full sunlight, not only does this require the removal of biodiverse cloud forests but also heavy application of chemical pesticides. Coffee grown beneath the shade of the forest, however, doesn’t need as many pesticides, grows better, and has a richer flavor because the shady conditions mimic the understory habitat in which coffee evolved. At Selva Negra, visitors will also see how this benefits wildlife when they catch glimpses of Howler Monkeys and dozens of birds on trails that pass through the shade coffee plantations and primary forests of this eco-friendly destination.

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