The Sloth is developing a new way of discovering Nicaragua by experiencing the nature and traditions in a sustainable way. They provide experiential tours that include activities in direct contact with local communities and the natural heritage of Nicaragua. In return, participation of local communities in tourist packages will improve their living conditions by creating new incomes or strengthen them.
Before opening their business in March 2014, the international team (mixture of Europeans and « Nicas » – as we call locals from Nicaragua) was visiting for months the country to find the authentic places to visit, the genuine people with living culture and traditions (handcrafts ike textiles, wood carvings, cosmetics making, cuisine, rituals, etc…), off the beaten tracks and the competition. In this way, they can know personally local providers included in their packages they are working with. This is something very important to develop a business based on confidence and knowledge with providers.
For example, all tour operators in Leon (almost all) offer volcanos hikes, with volcano boarding (surfing down the volcano with a board). Compared to them, « the Sloth » organizes it differently by renting materials from the local community, using local guides, etc… So that the activity generates incomes to locals.
I had a great experience hiking up to the Telica volcano with « The Sloth », guided with Raul. After a long bad road in jeep, we had a short distance walk to the deep crater. Raul did know a lot on the volcano activity and wildlife, which I highly appreciated. We discussed a little with members of the local cooperative that controls the access to the volcano. After a nice sunset on the San Cristobal volcano, we reached the edge of the crater very steep!!! Sulfur breeze and lava popping in the night were part of the attraction.
On my way South to Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to visit two of the organizations in partnership with « The Sloth ».First I stayed overnight in the very quiet and comfy dorms of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives « Tierra y Agua » – Nicaragua Libre, close to Granada. People very nice, good food. Unfortunately, I did not have luck to visit the Mombacho volcano neither hotsprings on its side or the viewpoint of Catarina because of bad weather conditions. But I felt very good. This is a nice place to start a visit the area, avoiding the very touristic Granada.
Then, I visited the beautiful Ometepe Island, a unique two-volcanoes island in the middle of a lake (Lake of Nicaragua). Was fun to arrive there by bicycle taking the ferry (with some very bad ferry company’s agents) and then cycle around the two volcanoes, one active (the Concepcion) and the other sleeping (the Maderas). The island is a Biosphere Reserve of the Man and Biosphere Program of the UNESCO since 1999. Staying two nights at the Finca Magdalena, north of the Maderas volcano, I had a nice resting time, enjoying black sand beaches with freshwater and the volcano hike with great buddies from Spain. The Finca is an old cattle farm converted into an organic coffee production and ecotourism. Knowing the big competition with others « Fincas » around, I would recommend the finca to specialize more their services and improve the quality of infrastructures (the main building is huge and would need some refreshing). I was upset and surprised not to be served a good coffee as soon as I arrived as a promotion of their own product neither to be able to buy a grounded coffee as a souvenir.
Thanks to the Sloth, I had a different experience of Nicaragua. So would you! If you want to know more about the responsible travel company, please visit their website and do not hesitate to contact them. They are very friendly and professional.
Good luck and all the best for « The Sloth »!