Friday, January 12, 2018

El Castillo on the Rio San Juan

An old Spanish fort guards this tiny hamlet on the San Juan river. Long a favorite destination for backpackers, El Castillo is now going mainstream with professional anglers and jungle enthusiasts. Still, though, the prices are affordable and locals love meeting new tourists. El Castillo is a major jumping off point to proceed east into the various parks. Much of the river San Juan is the actual border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, so military check points are frequent. If you plan on visiting the area definitely bring your passport. It is the law!

A view of el Castillo 

A burned out remnant from slashing and burning to make room for palm plantations. This burned out stump was at least 30 feet tall and 12 feet wide at the base. It must have been a huge tree while it was alive.

Different military sectors along the river. 

A stroll through downtown el Castillo.

We liked the riverside community.

We ran into some American fisherman that come down here every year for the world class tarpon.

No cars here so the horses do all the work.

Daydreaming is good for the mind.

This canoe has seen better days.

Climbing to the top of a once strategic fort.

Having fun in the ruins.

The fort had a commanding view of both sides of the river.
Beautiful countryside around the fort.

Overlooking the thin strip of a town.

The flag of Nicaragua blowing in the wind.

Having fun

Taking a break.

Once formidable weaponry now obsolete.

Shane and his cousin Cheyenne.

River living.

Old timer enjoying the view from his back deck

Watching the world go by.

Freshwater shrimp

The freshwater shrimp were both large and delicious.

I often wonder what my kids are thinking when we see cool spots like this.

Parque and Rio Bartola

About a half hour, by boat, east of el Castillo is a collection of protected lands known as Parque and Rio Bartola is right in the middle of it. A huge hurricane hit the area in the fall of 2017 and leveled many thousands of trees. Nicaragua is allowing limited harvesting of the fallen timber. Thus, one will most likely see river logging operations for the next couple of years in the protected zones.
   Once off the beaten path, in Rio Bartola, I swear you felt like you stepped back in time. The sounds of the wind rustling the leaves in the forest, birds, and bugs create a natural cacophony of sounds which cannot be replicated. I hope everyone can experience the beauty of the wild and experience their own personal connection with nature.
   Shane and Carina prepared a wonderful meal of burritos, quesadillas, and nachos on a fallen tree. All of the food was prepared in a pan over open heat and was truly divine. You see Carina and Shane own two very successful restaurants in Granada, Bocadillos and Nektar and they know a thing or two about food. For the record, we packed out everything that we brought in and left the river as we found it, pristine.

The reflections in the jungle waters were amazing.

Loggers locating fallen timber.

Reed found a fish skeleton within moments of arrival.

The kids were playing with some of the rocks.

Carina prepping the food.

Sierra and Zoe are close sisters.

Cheyenne was showing Levi how to skip rocks.

Our parking spot on the river.

Happy chefs.

Jack liked swimming.

The kids swam onto submerged boulders for higher vantage points.

Deluxe nachos.

Happy times.

Invention of the year: A jalapeno on a lure. 

Joy of youth

The little kids caught little fish.

Levi was a fish catching machine.

Big kids caught the bigger fish and the fish were promptly released back to the wild.

Having fun, jungle style.

The reflections were captivating 

River logging and milling operations



Pulling the fallen timber out of the forest.

Some of the more remote riverside inhabitants.

Bird life was amazing on the river.

Playing in the river.

Cruising the river.