La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Guide to Activities at La Mariposa   (pdf format)
Activities Calendar   (pdf format)

Birds and Wildlife at La Mariposa
Our afternoon activities programme is designed to help you continue practice your Spanish and learn more about Nicaragua. We have incorporated a unique mixture of charlas (discussions), local outings by foot, on horseback or using public transport as well as visits further afield.

We take full advantage of the amazing central location enjoyed by the Mariposa - less than an hour from Managua (and the airport), the Laguna de Apoyo, the town of Masaya, Masaya volcano, San Juan del Oriente, Catarina. Our local Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) - La Concha, San Marcos, Masatepe, Jinotepe, Diriamba, Diria are delightful, laid back little places which we visit to shop, go to the internet café or to just chill out with a beer.

    Sunday am - horse ride or hike
    Sunday pm - Salsa class EVERY Sunday!

    Monday pm - Out and about visiting the Mariposa projects including the school support projects to our eco build study center to building a bakery for a women's cooperative.

    Tuesday pm - Trips out to El Chocoyero nature reserve, Masaya volcano, local markets and mucho mas!

    Weds pm - In and Around La Concha eg Cooking rosquillas in the barrio, folklore dancing in the cultural center, see how dried fruit is made using solar power!

    Thurs pm - Trips to Managua, pineapple farm, San Juan del Oriente, Masaya amongst others.
    EVERY Thurs trip has an evening out option as well!

    Fri pm - History discussion and then out to the bar El Canchito OR pizza with live music!

    Sat - all day trips to Granada, Leon, Laguna de Apoyo, La Boquita, Mombacho

Our faithful truck at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Dinner at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Guillermina horseback riding at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

The Masaya Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Americas – the last (minor) eruption was in April 2001! It is situated in the midst of a beautiful national park which also contains a small museum and visitors centre. You can stroll around the crater, spotting lizards, deer and parakeets as well as the sulphurous fumes rising from the crater or you can hire a guide to explore some of the 20 km of trails and caves in the park. We organize a horse riding trip from the Mariposa to the Masaya Volcano.

Volcan Masaya in Nicaragua

Hammock capitol of Nicaragua in Masaya

The city of Masaya is the centre of Nicaraguan culture, home to a number of attractive churches and a peaceful, restored plaza. In the barrio of Monimbo, we visit families making a whole range of handicrafts including world-famous hammocks and leather goods. Masaya’s two markets could not be more different – the restored Mercado Nacional de Artesanias is perfect for souvenir shopping whilst the commercial market is less tranquil but cheaper.

     Catarina field trip from La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Catarina is the most visited of the White Villages – both by Nicaraguans and tourists. Most come to see the Mirador (the viewpoint) – where you can sip a cold beer whilst looking out over the Laguna de Apoyo and, in the distance, the city of Granada and the slopes of the volcano of Mombacho. Worth visiting also are some of the colourful garden centres which line the streets and those with an interest in plants should take a trip to the Ecological Vivero (an organic plant nursery) situated just back on the main road.

The other White Villages (or Pueblos Blancos) include Masatepe – Nicaragua’s centre of carpentry and furniture making where you can treat yourself to a custom made rocking chair (flat packed for easy air travel) and, somewhat surprisingly, also the home of sweet making.

Potter from San Juan del Oriente - field trip from La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Pottery from San Juan del Oriente -  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

San Juan del Oriente is where much of Nicaragua’s beautiful ceramic pottery is made. Watch it being thrown, have a go on the potter’s wheel and then browse the shops.

Potter from San Juan del Oriente - field trip from La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

              The Laguna de Apoyo near  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

The Laguna de Apoyo is Nicaragua’s largest, and arguably the prettiest, crater lake. It was created by a massive volcanic explosion some 20,000 years ago. The drive down the crater side offers stunning views of the lake below; swimming in the water is a delight but you can of course simply relax in one of the small cafes along the shore and watch the late afternoon clouds come in over Mombacho.

The El Chocoyero Nature Reserve is home to several hundred parakeets – an afternoon trip can be organised to coincide with their evening arrival home to a cliff face which houses several hundred nests. They are extremely sociable birds and watching pairs returning visiting their neighbours and apparently chatting about their day is a unique experience! The park is also home to many other species of birds and animals– including a large boa constrictor and a rare female anteater and baby which we released there as part of our wildlife rehabilitation project.

Parrots nesting holes in a rock wall at El Chocoyero - field trip from La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua                            

Cooking classes in the kitchen of  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua The afternoon discussions are led by a Mariposa teacher and each focuses on a theme designed to help you get to know more about Nicaragua and its relations with the West. Politics, history, development issues, religion - all topics which lead to lively debate. And every week we offer you a round up of the weeks' news to make more sense of current events. All in Spanish with a translator on hand and followed by a well-deserved outing to a local bar! And we also schedule cooking classes (ever wanted to know how to make a corn tortilla or cheese soup?), folklore dance and salsa classes. And whenever we have an excuse we throw a Mariposa party complete with live music, folkloric dance group from La Concha and a piñata!

Making Maracas  -  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
Sandino statue in Managua, Nicaragua
Our safe local buses at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Our garden vegetables -  La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

The Mariposa is situated in a delightful area - known as the sierritas or little mountains, we are some 500 metres above sea level - (which has a significant impact in lowering the average temperature here) - there are many small tracks, perfect for walking, horseriding or even exploring on a borrowed bicycle! The views are often breathtaking - at one point, on a clear day, you can see three lakes and five volcanoes. And just strolling around our local barrio, San Juan de la Concha, is a pleasure in itself - there are artisans making maracas out of hickory seeds, a family making toy trucks from recycled wood… can visit our organic farm or just go to the ice cream parlour and internet café.

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A weekend excursion is perfect for those who want to concentrate on learning Spanish during the week but explore further afield at the weekends. We can help you organise trips to the following:
  • Island of Omatepe
  • Pacific beaches
  • Granada and Mombachu
  • Leon and the Pacific
  • Estelí and the North
We can simply offer you advice on your trip, help you make your travel arrangements, hotel reservations etc. Or we can send a Mariposa guide/translator with you who can show you around.

Costs of a weekend guide are detailed on the Prices page.

Omatepe in Nicaragua
Omatepe in Nicaragua
Omatepe in Nicaragua

  • Omatepe is regarded by many as the (so far still relatively hidden) jewel in Nicaragua's crown. The ferry journey alone is worth it - the sight of the twin volcanic peaks emerging from the waters of Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) as you approach the island is unforgettable. There are many examples of pre-Columbian history to be found on the island; as well as good walking, horseriding, beaches, swimming in the freshwater lake and spectacular views everywhere you turn. We stay in an eco-setting close to the best beaches. We can also arrange for you to climb a volcano!

  • La Boquita, Pacific Ocean in Nicaragua The Pacific Beaches - We take you first to la Boquita where you can swim, splash around in the waves, walk for miles with only the sea and sky for company or hang out in a hammock in a thatched restaurant situated right on the beach, with the best fish and seafood ….. we stay overnight in Casares, a small fishing community - from the hotel balcony you can watch the morning boats setting off. We spend Sunday exploring Huehuete and Tupilapa - almost-deserted, virgin beaches further south.

  • the city of Granada on Lake Nicaragua - La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua Granada is a picturesque town offering beautifully restored colonial architecture, its churches and houses painted in a wonderful array of colours. Amongst the sites we visit, is the San Francisco museum, housed in a traditional convent and showing some remarkable pre-Columbian statues. We take you to a centrally situated Nicaraguan restaurant for lunch, followed by an afternoon trip in a lancha (a covered boat) on Lake Cocibolca around the isletas. And then dinner in one of Granada's many renowned restaurants.

  • Mombachu Volcano near Lake Nicaragua - La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua Mombachu - this volcano, just outside Granada has a well preserved and accessible tropical cloud forest, with hundreds of different orchid species as well as excellent bird and animal life. You can take a gentle walk around the well maintained footpaths to the viewpoint and get an amazing view over Granada and Lake Cocibolca. As we arrange for you to stay in their eco-lodge overnight, you can also opt to do the night time trail (with a Mombachu guide).

  • the city of Granada on Lake Nicaragua - La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua Leon is a fascinating place, full of history, its eclectic selection of museums covering all aspects of politics, culture and nature! There is an excellent modern art museum. It is possible to spend an entire day just touring the cathedral and churches. There are also a number of good restaurants and just strolling about Leon in the early evening is a pleasure. The beaches of Las Penitas and Poneloya are less than an hour away and perfect for a weekend afternoon.

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