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Solentiname & Rio San Juan Nicaragua Explorer

10 day quietwater lodge based trip meeting in San Carlos Nicaragua meeting on:

2013 Departures

Dec 22-29
Feb 2-9
March 9-16
April 13-20

Trip Price: $2175.00
Requested Single Supplement: $450.00
Private Bath: all nights

Trip Price: $2175.00
Requested Single Supplement: $450.00
Private Bath: 2 nights



Solentiname & Rio San Juan Nicaragua Explorer

The Artists of Solentiname and
the River -- Rio San Juan

Our journey begins in San Jose, Costa Rica. We are here for one evening and then begin our journey to the northern border and Nicaragua. From the village of Los Chiles, Costa Rica we travel down the rio Frio to Lake Nicaragua and the border town of San Carlos, Nicaragua. At the confluences of the rio Frio and the rio San Juan, San Carlos is a bustling place and the gateway to the Rio San Juan region. From the waterfront pier we can see the Solentiname islands in the distance. Another boat trip on the lake brings us to our destination, the Archipelago de Solentiname – a designated national monument and a truly magical place. The community is spread out among the islands and we will discover its history and artist colony over the next few days.

We settle into Albergue Celentiname, where Maria Guevara has been running a lodge for over 18 years. She is one of the original painters on the islands and is happy to share her story and the history of life in Solentiname. We will explore the islands by canoe and foot. Paddling along the shore line lets us soak in our surroundings and is an excellent way to birdwatch. The community of painters and artisans is very open and friendly. They enjoy visiting with travelers and sharing their stories. In addition to the art on the islands we will also have time to explore petroglyphs and pre-columbian sites. A visit to Los Guatuzos is also planned. This is a wonderful wildlife refuge along the rio Papaturro where the wildlife is abundant including monkeys, iguanas, turtles, herons, egrets only to name a few.

After a short stay in Solentiname we return to San Carlos and begin our journey down the rio San Juan. The San Juan forms the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The whole area is considered a tropical rain forest and the bio diversity is spectacular. Along the river we will see a wide variety of bird species including chestnut toucans, boat-billed herons, great egrets and white ibis.

We will spend two evenings in El Castillo. This riverside village has a long history of pirates and battles between the English and Spanish. Much of this history is beautifully displayed in the ruins of the hillside castle that stands as a sentry over the town. The only access to El Castillo is by water so the village is bustling with boatman selling their wares and fisherman coming and going.

From El Castillo we will have paddling choices on several of the many nearby tributaries. These small rivers are ideal for paddling, offering solitude, lush vegetation and excellent birding. Sitting on the deck of the hotel overlooking the river is the perfect way to end the day.

We continue down the river from El Castillo to our final lodging at Refugio Bartola. This is a small research center located along the quiet Bartola river and Si a la Paz national park. During our two days here we will have time to become totally immersed in this special place. Footpaths lead us through some of the last remaining primary forest in Nicaragua. The forest canopy is teeming with life. Birds and mammals make their home high in the canopy as vines and lianas stretch to the forest floor. Bromeliads and orchids add a splash of color to the dark greens of the rainforest foliage.

Our journey ends as it began traveling back up the rio San Juan to the rio Frio and the village of Los Chiles. As we travel back to San Jose for our final evening we will reflect on our sojourn to this special corner of Nicaragua, where the artist, with simple brush strokes, can portray the simplicity of nature and people living in harmony.

Solentiname & Rio San Juan Nicaragua Explorer Itinerary
Where and When to go...and how to get there

Day 1:
Leave the States and fly to San Jose, Costa Rica. Your air itinerary can be coordinated by one of our staff members if you would like. Our first evening we will be staying at Hotel SanGildar in Escazu just outside of San Jose. San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is located in the Central Valley where we will find rolling hills with coffee fields dotting the countryside. After dinner we will gather for a brief trip orientation. Welcome.
Lodging - Hotel SanGildar

Day 2:
We will be up early to begin our journey to Nicaragua. As we travel out of the fertile central valley we will pass lush coffee plantations, fields of plantains, pineapples and oranges. Once we arrive in Los Chiles we will say good-bye to our van, as the rest of our trip will be done in motorized boats and canoes. We will take the local water bus from Los Chiles down the rio Frio to Lake Nicaragua and the bustling border town of San Carlos Nicaragua. This small town sits on the banks of Lake Nicaragua at the confluences of the Rio Frio and Rio San Juan. Here we can wander through the small market and pick up any last minute supplies, fresh fruit and vegetables and anything else that catches our eye.
We will meet our local guide and boatman who will take us into Lake Nicaragua and the Solentiname Islands. Once there we will be able to stretch our legs and go for a walk to get familiar with our surroundings and home for the next several evenings. Albergue Celentiname is a comfortable family run lodge, which offers comfortable cabins with small decks overlooking the lake. Home cooked meals are a treat with creamy avocados being an island favorite.
Lodging -- Albergue Celentiname

Day 3-5:
We settle into Solentiname for the next three days, giving us plenty of time to really discover this magical place. The canoe is a great way to explore the islands. We will circumnavigate Isla San Fernando, gaining a different perspective of the island. Shore birds feed quietly in the shallow waters while iguanas warm themselves in the trees overhead.
A boat trip to the west side of Lake Niecaragua brings us to the rio Papaturro and the Guatusos wildlife refuge. Our boatman will take us upstream to the reserve. From here we will be able to explore by foot and canoe. We will enjoy a forest walk where we will learn about the rich dversity of plants and animals. We will look for several species of monkey, reptiles and a large array of tropical birds. There is a wonderful orchid project going on that is also worth a visit.
Other islands to explore by canoe and foot include Isla Padre, with the archipelagos only population of howler monkeys, the local museum and some pre Colunbian sites which contain petroglyphs and other signs of early inhabitants.
Although our days are full there is still time to relax in a hammock, practice your sapanish with some of the locals, or enjoy the sunset from the quiet of a canoe out on the lake.
Lodging -- Albergue Celentiname

Day 6:
We say goodbye to our hosts this morning and journey back to San Carlos where we will begin our trip down the rio San Juan. We have about a 3 hour boat trip from San Carlos to El Castillo. We may choose to explore some of the smaller tributaries by canoe along the way.
The Rio San Juan flows 180 km through deep virgin rainforest from Lago de Nicaragua to the Caribbean.
The cloud and rain forests contain abundant wildlife including ocelots, wart hogs, pumas, jaguars, sloths and spider monkeys. Birdlife in the forests is particularly rich: the cinnamon hummingbird, ruddy woodpecker, stripe-breasted wren, elegant trogon, shining hawk and even the quetzal, the holy bird of the Maya, can all be seen.
Maybe, the most amazing natural history fact is that is possible on a single trip along the San Juan to see all six species of kingfishers found in the New World. There may be no other place on Earth where this is possible.
We continue our journey on the San Juan and its imposing nature is put into perspective by the beauty of the trees and vegetation that seem almost endless and probably untouched by human hand. We know that is not the case, but the majesty of the river is imposing. Big sanctuary-islands protected by the Environmental Ministry, resist the river's dashing and divide its course.
Dinner is usually a special treat of large fresh water shrimp, which come from the rio Frio and are very tasty.
Lodging -- Hotel Victoria
Note -- Dinner is on your own this evening

Day 7:
We meet our local guide for a tour of the village, butterfly garden, village museum and ruins of El Castillo. This ruined fortress stands high above the village and offers strategic views up and down the river. With out roads in the village the river plays a vital role to the community. River taxis and fisherman are active all day and the canoe is a wonderful way to explore the smaller tributaries of the San Juan.
These small rivers are havens for birds and mammals. The tree canopy hangs over the river providing welcoming shade and brilliant shades of green. All too soon we are back in El Castillo enjoying the light breeze and relaxing on the porch.
Lodging -- Hotel Victoria
Note -- Dinner is on your own this evening

Day 8:
After a filling breakfast of gallo pinto, eggs and fresh fruit we don our paddling gear and head to the river. This morning we will have about a three hour paddle down the rio San Juan to Bartola . The river is lively right from the start as we dance through the rapids at El Castillo. We will take a moment to watch the fisherman as they cast their nets into the rapids and marvel how they can maneuver their heavy wooden dugouts with grace and ease.
Our journey down river takes us past some wonderful forest. The biggest threat to rainforests in Central America is the continual invasion of land-hungry farmers who cut and burn the forest to plant basic food crops like corn and beans. But once deforested, most rainforest land can’t support crops for very long, so the farmers move on clearing more and more forest. In the wilds of southern Nicaragua, conservationists are helping farmers end this hopeless cycle by teaching them how to grow bigger and healthier crops and provide for a brighter, more stable future. As a result, families will no longer depend on the rainforest for more land and wood.
The national park of “Si-A-Paz,” or “Yes-to-Peace” in English borders the river on both the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican sides. When Nicaragua’s long civil war ended in 1991, thousands of displaced, impoverished farmers began searching for unclaimed land, and the “unclaimed” forest of Si-A-Paz beckoned. A coalition of conservationists and technicians are working with families that live in the marginal lands just outside the park. Farmers learn how to plant nontraditional, nutritious crops and to use organic farming techniques that slowly turn worthless land into productive gardens. Farmers are also now planting trees for fruit, firewood and lumber. And for the first time, they are learning about rainforest ecology.
Lodging – Refugio Bartola

Day 9:
We plan a day of hiking in the Indio Maiz rain forest reserve. This is a virgin rain forest reserve and Bartola was built for the many international groups that research the abundant flora and fauna of Indio Maiz ( Central America’s biggest rain forest reserve).
In the afternoon we may choose to get in our canoes and explore the jungle canals of the Rio Bartola and other quiet water tributaries of the San Juan. Late afternoon is a wonderful time to paddle as the bird activity picks up as birds return to roost for the evening. We will enjoy one more evening in Bartola immersed in the sounds and life of the forest.
Lodging – Refugio Bartola

Day 10:
All too soon it is time to start our journey back up the rio San Juan and San Carlos and catch our last water taxi to Los Chiles, Costa Rica. We return to Escazu for our final evening. We will enjoy dinner and have time to reflect on the scenic wonders of our journey and start thinking of our next trip.
Lodging -- Hotel SanGildar

Day 11:
Today we say are farewells and depart from San Jose to home. Or, for those who would like to do some exploring on their own we can suggest/arrange some extension trips.

Trip Pricing
Trip prices include lodging, all meals (except where noted in the trip notes), guide service and accompanying support van. Trips generally meet mid to late afternoon of the first day, and disband mid to late afternoon of the last day.
Prices listed in our printed material or website is subject to change because the trip dates and prices have often been published a year in advance. Between that time and the time of the trip’s actual departure, we are occasionally faced with cost increases or currency fluctuations that we cannot absorb. We make every effort to keep our prices the same as published. As of February 2009 the exchange rate in Costa Rica was $1.00 = 583 colones and $1.00=20 cordoba in Nicaragua.
Final Payments
Your balance is due 60 days prior to the departure date and can be paid by credit card or personal check. Please refer to your confirmation letter and invoice for the exact amount due. BattenKill Canoe, Ltd. reserves the right to regard reservations for these tours as canceled when the payment balance is not received when due.
Incidental trip charges such as small trip surcharge, currency exchange surcharge, and single room surcharge, if applicable, will be invoiced 30 days prior to the trip.

Solentiname & Rio San Juan Nicaragua Explorer Trip Notes Supplement

Travel in a foreign country requires one to be flexible and patient. BATTENKILL CANOE LTD trips are designed for flexible, energetic people who have a healthy dose of curiosity and enthusiasm about our world, and who like to be active. The most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude!
This trip will be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in natural history, and the outdoors. Although this is not a strenuous trip, it is very active and we suggest you be in good physical shape to better enjoy.

Emergency Contact
For emergency contact during the trip please contact our office in Arlington at 802.362.2800. They will contact the guides in Nicaragua as quickly as possible. Phone service in some parts of the country is very limited, however, we will attempt to return the call as soon as possible.

General Information
If you have any questions or need special arrangements please call our office. Regular office hours are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday in season. We are open Saturday and Sunday for day trip rentals, but our office staff is limited on weekends. We are generally closed Saturday through Tuesday November through April, although you may catch us in by chance at other times.
Trip prices include lodging, all meals (except when noted) guide services and accompanying support van. Trips generally meet mid to late afternoon of the first day, and disband mid to late afternoon of the last day. We may be compelled to increase or decrease trip prices due to matters beyond our control, such as currency exchange, airfare, taxes or price increases. Gratuities for BattenKill guides and other staff are appreciated, but are left entirely to your discretion.

Reservations and Confirmation
Often it is easier to call our office to check for availability and to make reservations. We request a deposit of $500.00. Immediate confirmation is possible using your credit card for the deposit. On receipt of your deposit we prepare a complete confirmation packet, including a full itinerary, personal equipment list, meeting location with directions, and an application for short term trip cancellation insurance. We strongly recommend that you obtain this cancellation insurance, which reimburses you for nonrefundable costs and deposits should you have to cancel your trip due to a personal emergency.

Cancellation and Refunds
Notification must be received by BATTENKILL CANOE LTD. (BCL) in writing. If you must cancel, but wish to reschedule for another trip, we will do our best to accommodate you. If you must cancel more than 60 days prior to departure, a refund of 50% of the per person deposit, OR a 100% credit valid for another trip will be held in your name. There are no refunds possible with less than 60 days notice or for leaving a trip early or arriving late.

Final Payment
Your balance is due 60 days prior to the departure date and can be paid by credit card or personal check. Please refer to your invoice for the amount due. BattenKill Canoe, Ltd reserves the right to regard reservations for these tours canceled when the payment of the balance is not received when due.

We almost always follow through with our entire trip schedule. However, we must reserve the right to cancel a trip or to make changes to the itinerary, if necessary, due to weather and/or water conditions, insufficient reservations or other factors outside of our control. Although it is unlikely, if we must cancel your trip, you may choose between: 1. A 100% refund of all monies paid, or 2. A 150% credit of your original deposit for a future trip with BATTENKILL. This constitutes full settlement, and BATTENKILL can not be held responsible for other costs incurred.

Guaranteed Dates & Small Trip Charge
Since you plan your vacation around our trip, it is our responsibility to run every trip scheduled if four or more persons are on the roster. A number of fixed costs make it more expensive to operate a trip with six members than one with 12. We budget our trips with a nearly full sign up, to enable us to price them at the lowest possible cost.
We will still run your trip if four or more guests are on the roster. However, we will be obliged to add a small trip surcharge if there is a low sign up of between four (4) and seven (7) participants. The small trip surcharge is ten (10) percent of the published price.
If you make your reservations 6 months prior to departure, you will qualify for our Earlybird Discount which guarantees your departure regardless of the number of people on the roster.

Accommodations & Meals
Our standard accommodation is two per room, generally with a private bath. Usually singles and triples are available. BCL provides three meals per day, beginning with dinner on the first evening and ending with lunch on the last day (except where noted).

Solo Travelers
If you're traveling alone and would like to assure yourself of a private room, there is a single supplement surcharge of $45.00 per evening. Singles willing to share will be matched with a roommate. If unavailable, a forced single supplement of 50 percent of the full supplement will be charged.

You must understand that river trips involve some risk and you have the responsibility to select a trip appropriate for your ability and interest. We will be happy to discuss our trips with you, as well as provide names of past participants who can describe their experience of the trip you are interested in. You will be asked to sign a Hold Harmless and Release of Liability form prior to your trip. BATTENKILL CANOE reserves the right to substitute lodges, leaders and to alter the itinerary when deemed necessary or advisable. BCL shall not be liable, directly or indirectly for any delay, cancellation, mishap, inconvenience, expense, personal injury, death, or damage of property for any reason whatsoever, including acts of God.
BATTENKILL reserves the right to decline, accept, retain, or ask any person to leave whose actions or deportment impede trip operation, or the rights, welfare and enjoyment of other trip members. No refund is possible under these circumstances.
Payment of deposit, and release of credit card number represents your acceptance of these terms and conditions. All disputes shall be settled by binding arbitration in Bennington County, Vermont.

Airline Reservations
Our airline desk is able to assist you in making your airline reservations, and we are pleased to do so. We can book with all the major carriers and would be happy to assist you with your travel plans.
While airport transfers are not included in your trip price we will attempt to meet all arriving flights on Day 1 of your trip. Transfers are based on the availability of our staff and van at that time. If you are arriving prior to Day 1 of the trip, we will make every effort to meet your flight, again this will be dependent on staffing and van availability. Transfers can be confirmed by our Vermont office prior to your departure. Airport pickups will be coordinated by BATTENKILL CANOE a day or so before your trip.

  • What's Included
    * Services of BATTENKILL CANOE LTD for predeparture information and guide services to help you get the most out of your expedition.
    * All ground transportation during the trip.
    * Lodging accommodations and all meals beginning with dinner on day 1 through breakfast on day 11. Except where noted they will be on your own.
    * Fully escorted, exclusive BATTENKILL CANOE tour of Nicaragua.
  • Not Included
    * Round trip transportation from hometown to gateway city.
    *Airport transfers in Costa Rica
    *Tips to drivers and guides.
    * Departure taxes and other government fees.
    * Items of personal nature such as laundry, phone calls and beverages.
    * Cost of delays including delays due to bad weather, canceled or delayed flights or delays on other modes of transport, sickness or other situations for which BATTENKILL CANOE or its agents cannot make provisions.

Travel Documents
A U.S. passport valid beyond your anticipated date of return to the U.S. is essential. Holders of foreign passports must check with the Embassy of Costa Rica and Nicaragua for details. Our office may be able to assist you.

Health Requirements
No immunizations are required at this time. We recommend that you contact your personal physician or local health board for their advice, and make your own decisions. Potable water will be provided at all lodging locations.
Malaria and hepatitis are concerns when traveling in any Central American country. The Center of Disease Control does recommend taking malaria medication when traveling to a country with known cases of malaria. We suggest you contact your personal physician, a clinic that specializes in foreign travel medicine or the CDC website at We are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have in regard to health requirements while traveling with us.

Bringing the Kids
We believe that sharing an adventure with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. Children twelve years of age or older are welcomed on all trips. Special arrangements must be made for all children 7-12. Regular discount is 25% off the trip price for folks under 18 years old.

The currency unit is the Colon in Costa Rica and the Cordoba in Nicaragua. Prices are quoted in the local currencyand money may be exchanged after arrival. We may be compelled to increase or decrease trip prices due to matters beyond our control, such as currency exchange, airfare, taxes or price increases.

Suggested Guide Books

New Key to Costa Rica -- Beatrice Blake & Anne Becher
The only guide book of Costa Rica printed in San Jose, and is updated yearly so the information is current. The section on "Do It Yourself Planning is very helpful when planning a trip.

Lonely Planet Guide to Central America -- Michael Rachowiecki
A guide book written by a guide for Wilderness Travel. The country is broken down into sections, and Rachowiecki is not afraid to offer his opinion regarding hotel, lodgings and restaurant listings.

Costa Rica Traveler -- Ellen Searby
Searby definitely has a feel for the country, and you will enjoy the environmental and ecological outlook she provides.

Birds of Costa Rica -- Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch
A big technical book of the birds of Costa Rica, designed for the serious birdwatcher, but it is invaluable for the novice who wants detailed information.

Trip Extensions
Costa Rica and Nicaragua are diverse and unique countries. If your timetable permits we encourage you to extend your stay and discover more of this beautiful area. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions and help you set up your trip. Extensions are generally 3-5 days in length, although some may be longer if desired.
A separate deposit is requested when you make your reservation for an extension. Please forward $100.00 per person for 2/3 day extensions, and $250.00 for four day and longer extensions. When arrangements have been confirmed, full payment is requested 60 days prior, or immediately if less than 60 days.

  • *Passport (carrying a photocopy of your passport is also a good idea--just in case)
    *Three changes of lightweight cotton or cotton mix clothing--pants and short sleeve tops for off river and evenings
    *Lightweight long sleeve shirt and pants for cool evenings and/or sun protection
    *Lightweight sweater
    *Lightweight rain jacket for cool evenings and the occasional rain shower
    *One pair of comfortable walking shoes
    *Wide brimmed hat
    *Sunglasses with security strap
    *Insect repellent
    *Lip balm or chapstick
    *Water bottle
    *Personal toiletries
    *Personal medications
    *Personal first aid kit
    *Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb
    *Small hand towel
    *Camera and film
    *Day use backpack
    Additional Clothes for Paddling
    *2-3 pairs of shorts
    * 2-3 t-shirts or comfortable paddling tops
    *Swim suit
    *Light weight paddle jacket and rain pants for rain and/or sun protection. Preferably nylon or other fast drying material.
    *Canoe shoes that can get wet for paddling such as sandals or booties. Avoid sandals that have velcro straps. The velcro straps do not do well in muddy conditions
    Optional Gear
    *Collapsible umbrella
    *Field guides, bird books, and travel books
    *Journal notebook, pen and a good book to read
    *Extra eye glasses, sunglasses and security straps
    *Ear plugs

This list is intended to be skeletal, and we anticipate you will have your own ideas of what is "necessary." In general bring half the clothes you think you will need and twice the film. Getting wet is always a possibility when canoeing, and river clothing has to keep you warm even when wet. Try to avoid cotton. The problem with cotton is that once it is wet it absorbs water and does not dry out quickly. During our travels we will be staying at places where casual clothing is acceptable. Long pants, short sleeve shirt or blouse and shoes or sandals are our common form of dress. Remember shorts are not generally recommended except for sports use.





Contact Us
BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.
800.421.5268 or 802.362.2800 fax--802.362.0159

©2002 BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.. All rights reserved