Frequently Asked Questions
How far away is..?
Managua Airport: 4.5 hrs to the door
The Costa Rican Liberia Airport: 4 +/-hrs (due to the border crossing)
SJdS: 3hrs door to door
Granada: 3.5 hrs
Rivas: 1hr 45m
San Jose, CR: 5.5hrs
What’s happening nearby?
Bicycle rental usually around $5 for the day. Offered many places in town.
Boat rental/fishing trips - ask for details. Chartered morning or afternoon trips in the lake with Caballito del Mar. Cook your catch. Prices vary according to details
Games room with board games and kids toys -
Horseback riding - Finca Sagrada in Merida offers horseriding trips: visit the waterfall, ride through the lake and on the beach or gallop along the roads - YOU decide. Suitable for all levels.
Lake swimming nearby - dive right in. Some volcanic rock.
Kite surfing school in Santa Cruz.
Can I learn more about Permaculture?
Yes! We offer free educational farm tours to show you an introduction to the idea of permaculture and gain a better understanding of our systems, farm and design.
If you’re looking for a more immersive experience join our neighbours at Finca Bona Fide on their 2-week annual course here on Ometepe from Jan 26th - Feb 8th. You can book accommodations with us to stay in luxury and gain a universally recognised certificate at the same time!
Is Nicaragua a safe place?
.As far as the crime against visitors, Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America… Nicaragua is currently undergoing a socio-political crisis which is devastating to its people, They are often willing to share their thoughts on this with you if you ask.
Follow these tips for staying safe in Nicaragua: Avoid political demonstrations as they can provoke violence. Never drive on rural roads at night. Always carry plenty of drinkable water and fuel. Take all reasonable precautions, as you would anywhere else in the world.
The Nicaraguan people are generally very hospitable, friendly and helpful. Many places retain a real sense of community.
There is diverse wildlife here in Nicaragua. Most animals are timid and will avoid attacking unless threatened. On the island the insects and spiders are not toxic to humans.
There is only one venemous snake which is timid, rarely seen and very obviously danger-colored (red, black and yellow: full bands). Leave it alone if you spot it. There is also a ‘false coral’ with the same colors in that do not encircle the body in complete bands. Don’t try to see which it is. Just also leave it alone if you spot it. Move away from the area.
Are you animal friendly?
We have a host of farm animals (in enclosed areas) and some loveable dogs patrolling around the property and waiting to go on volcano wanders with you.
We are happy to allow you to bring your pets along. Please notify us first. If its a dog you’re bringing, we will introduce them to the dogs gently so no one gets jealous.
People often visit the island to see our well-respected vets and stay with us while their furry friends recieve treatment. Contact us if you would like their details.
Our dogs are well-fed but if you want to share your left-over food or coconuts with them that’s fine :) we don’t waste any food here. We ask that you please feed them outside of the kitchen. We don’t want them begging when people are cooking or eating.
Monkeys hang around the property. Groups of howler monkeys often pass by, on different routes depending on the season and what fruit is ripening around. Please dont try to feed any wildlife.
Can I take a farm tour?
You are more than welcome to join us for a farm tour at Selvista Guesthouses .
We can explain what it means to be a Homestead and share a little about the ideas of the permaculture movement and show you the systems in working action.
You’ll learn about the myths of local trees, try the edible crops in the area and get the low-down on where to spot our regular Howler monkey visitors.
Let us know if you want to focus on the food produced or the systems and buildings.
Tours can be catered to children too!
Can I eat the food from the farm?
Yes. Help yourself to the abundant fruits, herbs and salads growing on this property.
If it grows here, feel free to pick it and eat it. If you’re not sure what it is, please do check first. Not everything is edible. The ackee, for example, is only edible when ripe, and toxic otherwise.
Learn the pro-way to open your own coconut. Coconuts are usually found next to the chopping station, if not feel free to find a ripe bunch and bring them along. Or let us know, and we will.
There are plenty of variaties of bananas growing around (6 at last count) to try and compare- usually ripening in the kitchen.
Learn how to dissect and prepare all the parts of a jackfruit. See here or ask us for a demo on your visit.
Not sure what you’re looking for/at? Ask one of our friendly team members to show you around or check out the displays in the kitchen.
Should I be worried about spiders or bugs?
The island is awash with diverse wildlife, it’s a UNESCO biosphere reserve :) There are many weird and wonderful creatures and insects here, including endangered birds, mud crabs, cane toads and turtles.
The island is home to the Morpho Azul, a wonderful electric specimen that loves being around the water. Butterflies have a great rep. Everybody Loves Raymond. But spiders… eugh! right? Wrong.
We do see spiders around, along with many ant varieties (some are nomads, some are farmers...) and beetles that look like they shouldn’t be able to fly, but can.
The spiders that occasionally like to visit the bright lights of houses are more likely huntsman spiders. Tarantulas exist on the island are rare to be seen - they’re a bit stand-off-ish and prefer a secluded and solitary life under the undisturbed rocks.
House spiders have long legs and they are very differently structured to the round bodied-counterparts - the tarantulas.
regardless, none of them are aggressive (unless you’re a wasp, cicada or mosquito) nor toxic to humans. I’ve yet to meet someone who turned into a spider-woman after an island visit.
What should I bring?
Tips to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible:
- bring a flashlight or headlamp for each person - to walk to/from town after it gets dark (6pm)
- bring hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes - to hike the rocky farm & volcano trails
- bring eco-friendly bug spray - if you're coming the Nicaraguan rainy season of May-November
- bring cash (mix of córdobas and US dollars is fine, smaller notes are better) - for setting up activities directly with local providers; the closest ATMs are in Santo Domingo, about 20-min drive from the property.
- download WhatsApp app on your mobile device - to contact local activity providers via wifi throughout your trip. It doesn’t use celular data here so is commonly used.
- download Maps.me app on your mobile device - to navigate Nicaragua offline throughout your trip - Quite useful, however we do not take responsabilities for errors that you find on there! For example, when leaving the port town the most direct smooth route to us is right at the top of the hill. Maps me has a route left that is much more adventurous.
Can I park at the house?
We have a range of off road carparking options available to accommodate every type of transport.
To reach the top level car park a 4x4 or equivalent is recommended.
Scooters and small cars can be left at the ‘small car parking area’ half way up the driveway (signposted). Its a 3 minute walk from there.
Let us know your arrival time to assist you with your luggage if you arrive within check-in hours if you will park below.
Is there good/fast WiFi?
Yes. WiFi is free and high speed. Part of Selvista’s vision is to provide you with an environment suitable for disconnecting a bit from the hustle and bustle of our lives at work and home. This provides you with the opportunity to truly reconnect with yourself and all that is natural. We invite you to unplug and indulge in the serenity of our beautiful grounds.
With that said, all of Selvista is WiFi accessible. We have fiber optic cable that many people find suitable for work, international calls and movies.
Please note, as Nicaragua is still developing its infrastructure, the power can be subject to inconsistent connections at times. If internet goes out there is always a separate solar-powered backup network in the kitchen, which you are welcome to come and use. There are no internet access fees.
Is it a suitable place for children?
Selvista is designed as the perfect family getaway. It is a place where families can come together and engage in a natural setting with an array of outdoor activities focused on physical health and fun.
We know traveling with a family takes a lot of planning, so we make it a priority to offer a wide arrange of services that allow you worry less and enjoy more.
We’ve got an outdoor games room with board games and kids toys and books.
Kids can :
Explore the farm - there’s pigs and dogs and chickens and ducks to feed and play with.
Hunt for herbs and fruits, go on a treasure hunt to match the edible leaves.
Have a farm tour specifically for children.
Sleep in a magical tree house through a trapdoor on the third floor of a jungle house.
You will discover that Isla Ometepe is the perfect environment for kids once you see them playing with the lovable dogs, watching the howler monkeys dangle from tree to tree across the canopy, or chasing blue morphos into the garden.
What kind of crowd do we attract?
We’ve got something to suit everyone. Houses are private and cosy but we have social areas for people to hang-out:
Ask for a toddlers cot to be set up in your room (limited availablity) and we make some kids toys available and we live in a wonderland. We cater farm tours especially for kids, including edible treasure hunts and feeding the pigs, chickens and ducks, searching for the patterns around.
Single travellers -
Our communal kitchen makes it easy to make friends while the private houses with living rooms and hammocks make it the perfect zone to enjoy some ‘me-time’
Digital Nomads -
We have the best office you could ask for! Be inspired by the nature around you, while making the most of our free high-speed fibre optic internet. Luxury houses have a seperate study/ living room upstairs with doors that open wide to views of the volcano and all rooms have desk and high-backed chairs included.
This is a magical place for those who like experiencing the wonder of the nearby wildife and the maybe like the idea of Homesteading or growing their own food.
LGBT (person) friendly-
Life’s a bag of licorice allsorts, and so are we! All and any welcome here. Our only requirement is that you’re friendly and respectful to everyone you meet on your journey here at Selvista. A great romantic spot. Honeymooners love it!
What are the food options?
Selvista provides breakfast on-site every morning from 7.30 to 9am for all our guests. This is included with the reservation. If you would like to bring extra visitors please let us know the night before. They are welcome to join us and will be charged $9 per person.
We have an open-air kitchen on-site which is available for guest use any time outside of breakfast hours, which is complete with fridge, gas oven and stove-top, plus basic cooking essentials.
For a more authentic and adventurous cooking experience, please feel free to fire up our grill or cob over (firewood prepared ready).
Several popular nearby restaurants offers a delivery service up to the house for less than $3.
We are located next to Balgüe, a small, rustic, and authentic farming village which has various restaurants and several convenience stores (‘pulperias’) with basic toiletries and food.
Varied cuisine, both local and foreign, can be found in this tranquilo town. It’s 15 minutes by foot to the center. Please note that most restaurants stop serving food between 8-9pm. Take a flashlight if you will return after dark (around 6pm year-round).
We can also offer a taxi service to Balgüe for $5 per ride in the evenings to eat out.
See here for a list of restaurant recommendations
Can I summit the volcanoes?
The full volcano hikes require guides for safety and direction. Whichever hike you choose it’s recommended to take at least 3 liters of water per person. We’d also recommend layered clothing, closed boots or sneakers and waterproofing for anything that doesn’t like being wet. Also plenty of snacks, lunch, a towel and a sense of adventure!
Maderas 1394m- the dormant one, building up from dry-tropical forest, through a mid level rainforest where the sky plants take over and into cloud forest, crowned with a crater lagoon you can swim in. Trail-head 10 minutes from our kitchen.
a) Mirador: 3-4 hours A look-out point half-way up the trail.
b) Crater Lagoon summit: 8 hours $25 p/p for 2 people (incl. park entry)- group deals.
Leave after breakfast 7.30am.
Conception 1610m- The ‘big one’ - deceptively, only 200 meters higher than Maderas, but a very different terrain as its still active. Fabulous views of the island. $25 p/p for 2 people (+park entry)
Meet for the 5am bus in the street below or ask us to organise you a taxi.
There are many shorter trails nearby that you can take to see the beauty of the island without hiking for 8 hours too.
What are the bathrooms like?
All houses have en-suite bathrooms with modern, flush toilets.
-The tubes cannot handle toilet paper nor sanitary products. Please throw them in the bin provided. There is daily housekeeping in the rooms.
There are also eco-friendly, beautifully built and well-maintained compost toilets available if you would like to use those. They do not waste fresh water and in a year can be used as manure.
-Throwing in any organic waste - toilet paper is fine. No plastics or non-bio waste please. You can throw two scoops of sawdust or rice husks in after you’re finished.
All houses contain private showers, most of which are with hot water.
Can I check in early/ leave my luggage?
We can happily accommodate early check-ins and late departures if the houses are available. Otherwise feel free to leave your luggage with us and collect it after your day’s adventures.
What is a permaculture farm?
A permaculture farm is a farm that follows the design and moral principles of ‘permaculture’, an agricultural and social practice that involves observation, adaptation, no-waste aims and sustainable goals. It’s a working system that thoughtfully intergrates its systems to mimic those of nature; while flexibly following what the land already does.
Is Selvista an eco-lodge?
Selvista is a small collection of private houses in a natural area, free from noise or traffic pollution, that makes efforts to use renewable energy sources and responsibly produce and deal with waste.
We try to encourage sustainable practices and ideas among our visitors and the local community through resources and education.
See more on eco-lodge classifications here.
When should I come?
Ometepe island is beautiful all year ‘round. It’s a unique biosphere with a distinct and unpredictable cycle, as with anywhere these days.
The weather on Ometepe mid-November until April is a typically a perfect 27 degrees, only seeing a few light showers very occasionally.
There are usually winds around November to January so the nights are fresh and the days perfect for kitesurfing.
March and April are the hottest months of the year. Perfect for taking a dip at Ojo de Agua.
The months of May to August are warm days with short bursts of heavy showers, usually in the night and nothing that spoils the fun!
There is often a ‘little summer’ (canicula) that gives a 4 week break rain-free stretch from mid-July to mid-August. Don’t tell everyone, its our best kept secret! ;)
Heavier rains usually begin in September and carry into October. They don’t usually last long and freshen the place up. It’s a great time to take Spanish lessons, meditate, and practice yoga in your living room or hike under the cover of the canopy to see the waterfall in its most impressive.
Visiting between June-November sees the island at it its most lush- our favorite time!
What is medical care there like?
We have a small, well equipped 1st aid kit on-site in the kitchen and plenty of medicinal herbs in the garden. There is a small health clinic located in the town of Balgue (15 minutes on foot) with a laboratory (which we help to fund) open until 3pm and a pharmacy nearby owned by a trained nurse, Ruth. You can have blood, urine and stool tests in the lab in the morning and pick up your results in the afternoon.
There is an A&E in Altagracia (13km) and a hospital in Moyogalpa. Rivas has a large hospital on the mainland (2.5h) or Managua (4.5h). Emergency health care is free at the point of service here. Donations (especially goods) are always welcome. Travel insurance is recommended.
For non-serious ailments most pharmacies will be able to help.
Should I worry about mosquitoes?
Mosquitos and other insects are present within Nicaragua but are not what we consider an issue. The island and the whole southern pacific side of Nicaragua are zero malaria risk areas.
All rooms have mosquito bed-nets for your peace of mind. When you go out, we recommend using natural bug repellent, which we sell on site, but covering clothing is a better prevention.
For more information please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov.
Can I volunteer in the community?
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the local community and a humbling experience into the lives of our locals and the general populace of Nicaragua.
There are a number of volunteer opportunities for those who wish to get more involved during their stay:
Roberto Mairena, a local entrepreneur, who runs a non-profit. We can put you in touch. Send us your email for a list of contact details on the island.
There is a project above us here at Selvista on an organic farm, Project Bona Fide They have on-going volunteer projects as well as annual Permaculture Courses. For more information about volunteering and internships please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage trash-collection days among our guests and basic spanish lessons if necessary to help explain why it’s important to take care of the environment and wildlife. You’re welcome to get involved.
What can I do on foot
There are many wonderful spots to explore on this island within walking distance without guides.
Head down to the volcanic rock beach coves in Balgue to swim or to watch the sunset behind Conception volcano.
You are minutes from Finca Magdalena, the oldest Hacienda and coffee plantation co-operative in the area. Go and explore the history and coffee on the right.
If you wanted to make a day of wandering you can head out to the beaches of Santa Cruz, exploring the coastline and cafes along the route.
TIP: If doing a little self exploration don’t be too scared of crossing barbed wire - its not meant to be threatening. Just limbo or leap over it and watch out not to tread on crops.
Importantly, don’t head too high up the volcano trails- to ensure you can find your way back down, safely, before nightfall.
Find more things to do.
Are there shampoo, towels and toiletries?
Each room is equipped with all basic necessities- shampoo, body wash, bath towels and linens. Please do not take the bath towels to the beach. You can request for those if necessary! Each room also provides cables, speakers, flashlights and filtered water plus a few books, for your pleasure.
What should I know before I come?
We are on a fairly undeveloped volcanic island in rural Nicaragua. As such, some of the roads requite 4x4 or equivalent vehicles to access.
It’s no problem to bring a vehicle that is not 4x4 - just explore trails on foot.
We have alternative parking areas a little further down our driveway. Staff can help you bring your luggage up to the house if necessary during regular check-in hours.
Weather and regional factors cause occasional interruptions of electricity and water service. We have a generator that we will start to resume electricity service if the power goes out for more than 15 minutes for the houses that are not on solar power here. We have a private reserve tank for water.
If anything interrupts the service please let us know; The outages usually do not last long. During a power outage some features of the villa such as lights, wifi, fans, and refrigerators may not work.
Although these occasional outages are beyond our control, whenever possible we will notify guests of changing conditions and we appreciate your patience and understanding.
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