Selva Azul is by far the worst hostel I ever visit. At first glance the rooms appeared ok up until we started noticing all ants on the bed, scorpion in the drapery, cockroaches on old bars of soap that were on the shower drain and small tarantulas crawling through rock crevasse. And by the way the fridge next to the bed was filthy. The television has no cable and the radio no signal so if you decide to stay there make sure you bring a compilation of your favorite songs on a CD otherwise you won’t have any music to listen to and don’t forget a bug repellent… Our nightmare got worst each time we try showering we would run out of water or brown water would gush out from the shower head… The toilet was leaking all time and the door knob was broken so we couldn’t lock the door. And in two occasions we found the manager Tim and his helper Michel Jackson no kidding that’s his real name! (Be aware of this guy very intrusive) in our rooms. To top of our bad luck, we had the annoying visits of Tim at all times of the day so relaxing was nearly impossible… The reason why we did not leave this hostel sooner was because we paid two weeks in advance HUGE mistake, and Tim a very persuasive crook refuse to return our money even after all the complaints we brought up to his attention. We change rooms eventually but the problem persisted. We end up moving to Monkey Hut. I recommend anyone visiting the Laguna de Apoyo to stay at the Monkey Hut Hostel which has a super friendly staff, and well kept rooms. Is a perfect social spot, where you get to know other travelers and enjoy a bunch of exciting free activities unlike Selva Azul Hostel that has nothing to offer? We felt safer immediately and had the best time for less money. We even forgot that we next door to this hell called Selva Azul. No wonder we were the only fools to stay at this dreadful place. Terrible experience!!!
I contacted Estacion Biologica to request a Spanish course and to go scuba diving. When I arrived, I found its property divided, and a very hostile group of people occupying part of the property. A young man by the name of Mark purported to be the fish scientist and manager of the hostel, and tried to convince me that I was at the correct place. I checked around and quickly realized that there is some kind of land dispute going on and these guys are essentially squatters. I eventually found the "right" people on the other side of a crudely erected fence, and took Spanish classes with a local teacher whose name is Lorenzo. I also participated with him in some underwater research, and the dives were very interesting. The staff of Estacion Biologica have discovered five species of fish in Lake Apoyo and they are doing some studies of the environmental situation in the lake, as well as reforestation of the land around. I went birdwatching one morning with Jeffrey McCrary, the director, saw 32 species of birds before breakfast.
The accomodations are rustic, but clean, and near the lake, permitting a soothing swim any time. Some travelers came through, but mostly the people that visited this place while I was there were nature lover types, bird watchers and people who work in Nicaragua. The staff were conducting meetings practically every day with community members, the nature reserve staff, police, journalists, and so on, to promote community participation in the protection of the reserve. I enjoyed meeting the people here and learning from them. The place is operated by a Nicaraguan not-for-profit, named FUNDECI/GAIA.
Be careful about the confusion and stay away from the conflict which I fell into unwittingly. Jeffrey can give you more details on the land issues, if you are interested.
I also met a fellow named Tim who runs Selva Azul hotel, which is a bit more upscale and nearby. He was very nice and although we did not dive together, he is also a diver and we talked about Nicaragua a lot one afternoon over some beers. He has a very nice place for the traveler who wants more than basic accomodations.
The most important unique characteristic of Estacion Biologica was the staff and volunteers who are amazing people. Most of the people working there are specialists in some kind of nature area. There were butterfly and moth studies going on, and Aura was pinning moths all day long! The meals were homestyle, simple but a pleasant departure from Nica road food, with organic salads.
At Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua is located a unique organization that works on the interface of art and science. Believe it or not it has a first class art gallery organized in collaboration with the Casa 3 Mundos in Granada and it has also been a Biological Research Station for over 20 years called proyecto ecologico see proyectoecologico.org for more information. I had a wonderful stay there with two biologists, one studying the birds and another fish. At the same time I saw a fantastic program with jugglers and clowns that was performed for the children in the community. You can take Spanish lessons, kayak, scuba dive, hike. If you want to become a certifed diver you can be trained by a PADI instructor. You can contact them at email@example.com.
Besides the wonderful wildlife and birds you will love the two beautiful german shepards. You can stay in quad rooms for $6 per person or have a big spluge and stay in the casita by yourself with an ensuite bathroom, but i don't know what that costs. I can't wait to go back and learn to dive. This place is different and the people are wonderful to interact with. The staff all used to work with Crater's Edge Hostel which closed last year.
After a wonderful month in Nicaragua, we had the misfortune to stay at Norome Villas. While the rest of Nica was clean and accommodating, Norome has missed the mark on all counts.
1 You cannot use the road up to reception even though it is not blocked off after you drive up you will be told to back down to the parking lot
2 We had the best room in the house but the door at the end of the path is for the maid to use We had to walk across somebody elses patio to get to our door
3 A matromonio room only has 1 chair on the balcony I guess we should have been so in love we wanted to sit on each others laps
4 THe kitchen is not equipped not even a glass
5 When the power goes out, you will not have a light in your room even though it is one of the most expensive places to stay in Nica. The only place with lighting is the bar
6 Our room was filthy with ants in the bed a live scorpion in the drapery cochroaches in the shower spiders their webs and prey along the baseboards centipedes walking the walls and all the shoe marks on the walls to prove that others have also been killing wildlife
7 If you want a glass be prepared to fight with the bar staff to get one
8 The restaurant staff clothing was filthy
9 Bring your own candles for the power outage
10 The water heater did not work
11 Two old bars of soap were on the shower drain
12 Wheelchair ramps are on the same grade as stairs
13 There was an abandoned birds nest on the window ledge as well as hornets nests on the screening covering the bathroom window
14 the manager will try to sell you a villa in this wonderous setting as their housecleaning is something for you to look forward to when you stay or have your friends over to visit
15 Most of thatching needs to be redone as it has rotted right through
The manager will not want to give you any compensation for being stuck out there, but you will have the benefit of being present while he dresses down the cleaner. He will not want to go and check the room with you either. The location is superfantastic and well worth the drive. However, they will want to charge you $10 per person(over and above your restaurant tab) if you want to use the restaurant and you are not registered there.
I suggest you continue on up the hill and eat a the larger of the two restaurants at the top of the hill. (I think it is called Katarina) It is perched on the lip of the volcanoe, and has great food for cheap (we ate for about $12 total for 2) I recommend the fried fish, It was bass that was scored, coated and deep fried to a crunchy coating. The flesh was firm and white and delicious. They were so conscientious about cleanliness, that they wiped the beer bottles down before they put then in the frig.
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