Solentiname & Rio San Juan Nicaragua Explorer
10 day quietwater lodge
based trip meeting in San Carlos Nicaragua meeting on:
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
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
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
Lodging - Hotel SanGildar
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
* 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.
* 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
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.
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
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 www.cdc.gov/travel.
We are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have in regard
to health requirements while traveling with us.
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.
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.
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.
Rica Traveler -- Ellen Searby
Searby definitely has a feel for the country, and you will enjoy the
environmental and ecological outlook she provides.
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
WHAT TO BRING FOR
SOLENTINAME & RIO SAN JUAN NICARAGUA
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.
(carrying a photocopy of your passport is also a good idea--just
*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
*Lightweight rain jacket for cool evenings and the occasional rain
*One pair of comfortable walking shoes
*Wide brimmed hat
*Sunglasses with security strap
*Lip balm or chapstick
*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
*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
*Field guides, bird books, and travel books
*Journal notebook, pen and a good book to read
*Extra eye glasses, sunglasses and security straps
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.
BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.
800.421.5268 or 802.362.2800 fax--802.362.0159
©2002 BattenKill Canoe, Ltd.. All rights reserved