Ecotourism in Nicaragua is complicated. While the country is plentiful in ecoactivities and a number of ecolodges have emerged in recent years, there appears to be little in terms of structure or standards being developed or implemented by the government.
Gradually, more businesses are incorporating sustainable practices into their ecotourism operations, demonstrating that there is potential for ecotourism in Nicaragua to develop healthily. However, until Nicaragua takes a cue from its ecoconscious neighbours, like Costa Rica (unlikely, considering the current political tensions between the two), and its visionary leaders within the industry, they will struggle to achieve a high level of sustainability.
Holistic Resort Ecotourism
About two years ago, it was observed that while a number of Nicaragua’s ecolodges practice ecotourism, they weren’t being entirely eco-conscious. The absence of an holistic approach to ecotourism is just one of the challenges faced by Nicaragua. Without government standards and recommendations, things like the construction of accommodations can end up being rather unsustainable.
By using endangered, rare, or unsustainably farmed construction products, many properties are starting off on a bad foot. It appears as though the bottom line is prioritised over sustainability, at least in many cases. There are concerns that unsustainable real estate development and green-washing will become prevalent here due to ecotourism demand and knowledge that ecotourism can yield high profits.
In many other ways, though, ecotourism is alive and thriving in Nicaragua’s resorts and lodges. Jicaro Island Ecolodge, managed and operated by Cayuga, is committed to sustainability and positive community impacts. Jicaro hires locally, and strives to use local produce for use in the lodge.
Morgan’s Rock, a popular hacienda and ecolodge, offers a number of ecotourism activities like kayaking, surfing, hiking, and wilderness tours. They also support the local community by purchasing local products and supporting local schools and education initiatives.
Finca Esperanza Verde
The shining ray of the future of ecotourism in Nicaragua has to be Finca Esperanza Verde, or Green Hope Farm. Considered to be a leader in sustainable tourism in Nicaragua, FEV is an ecolodge and organic coffee farm in San Ram?n.
During its development on an abandoned coffee plantation, FEV’s vision was to inject economic development and opportunity into the small region through environmentally conscious organic coffee farming, and to provide a medium through which locals could strengthen and share their culture’s music, art, and histories.
Since the development and growing popularity of FEV, the community has showed its entrepreneurial capabilities by establishing small businesses that enhance their culture and appeal to visitors.
FEV’s commitment to socially and environmentally responsible tourism is fierce and commendable, and demonstrates precisely why they are considered a leader in ecotourism in Nicaragua. Among their many principles and practices, FEV endorses and abides by Slow Food and Locavor principles, growing much of their food in their own organic vegetable gardens, and purchasing nearly everything else from their neighbours or locally owned stores and vendors. They also used local building materials in the construction of FEV, including sustainably harvested lumber.
Ecotourism in Nicaragua
With its wealth of biodiversity and beautiful landscapes, Nicaragua is an ideal setting for ecotourism. Within the industry, there is certainly potential for the growth and development of a truly sustainable ecotourism industry, however until the government is able to implement standards, such as Costa Rica, ecotourism in Nicaragua will continue to be led by visionaries such as Finca Esperanza Verde.
Photo Credit: ma neeks