Granada may well be the country’s most conventional tourist destination, but it offers opportunities for some great alternative experiences too.
Founded in 1984, UCA Tierra y Agua (Union of Agriculture and Fishing Cooperatives ‘Earth and Water’) is a union of nine co-operatives, one women’s association and more than 150 families who supplement their farming-based income with tourism services. This excellent organization arranges tours and homestays in three different communities and your money will directly contribute to their upkeep.
At the base of Mombacho volcano, La Granadilla and Nicaragua Libre are farming communities offering guided hikes in the cloudforest reserve, horse riding, cycling and tours of the plantations. Your guide will explain the many responsibilities of agricultural life and, if you wish, introduce you to members of the community. At Agua Agrias you can hike within an attractive nature reserve and bathe in freshwater streams and lakes. Economical and often delicious meals are available at all three communities.
The best way to learn about Nicaraguan life is to live it. A homestay with a Nicaraguan family, no matter how brief, will afford you a priceless opportunity to observe the daily rhythms of life. And if you roll up your sleeves and muck in, all the better. Rustic homestays are available at La Granadilla for around US$3 per person per night. There’s a comfortable hostel at Nicaragua Libre, US$5 per person per night.
For more information and help planning your visit, contact UCA Tierra y Agua, www.ucatierrayagua.org.