Our stay at the finca. Ometepe, Nicaragua

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When we arrived at Finca Montania Sagrada, we were greeted by about 5 lovely little chihuahuas, two bigger dogs and a few cats.

We were hungry after the somewhat long journey from San Juan del Sur, so after we checked in, we headed down the hill to get some lunch.

We stopped at Margarita’s restaurant, which consisted of four picnic benches under an awning beside a large window to order through.

When we asked what was on the menu, we were told, “pollo.” So, naturally, we ordered the pollo 🙂

Aside from having to fight off a little chicken who–feeling a bit cannibalistic–was taking pecks at my plate, the meal was delicious. Pollo y gallo pinto con cerveza toña. ¡Perfecto!

When we got back to the finca we made new friends and drank rum and danced in celebration of Valentine’s Day. It was a wonderful first day on Ometepe.

The next morning was another beautiful day. We had breakfast at the finca before taking a two hour horseback ride through rocky paths in the woods that opened up to breathtaking views of the lake and the two volcanoes that make up the island.

A few of the bigger dogs came along for the journey!

We returned to lunch and a siesta followed by a lazy evening and a good night’s sleep.

The next day we kayaked through a river that looks much like the Everglades. Then we ran into some friends and had some drinks by the water.

Although many people opt to do the 8-10 hour hike up one of the volcanoes, we decided we already had a nice balance between activities and relaxation. It was an absolutely beautiful stay.

February 17, 2017
Isla de Ometepe
Nicaragua

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Ometepe the Beautiful. Getting There.

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Our stay at the finca (farm) on Isla de Ometepe has been an absolutely phenomenal experience. The nearly 3-hour car-boat-4×4 trek was well worth it.

On Tuesday we had a driver take us from San Juan del Sur to the ferry in San Jorge (about a 30 minute drive).

From there we hopped on a boat (which was a little confusing to figure out, but someone who worked on the boat helped us and we just paid 35 Córdoba each after we got on). It took about an hour to get to Moyogalpa–the main town on Ometepe where the ferry docks.

We were really glad we had the finca arrange for a 4×4 taxi to pick us up at the dock because the scenic 1.25 hour drive was beautiful and went by so fast in the open air jeep. Plus, the unpaved portion of the drive would have been really uncomfortable in a regular car!

We are now in a remote and quite bungalow surrounded by beautiful scenic views of volcanoes and beaches. It is simply amazing!

It is completely up to us if we want to hike volcanoes, ride horses or bicycles, kayak, or just relax and soak in the beauty. The island has all this and more to offer.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, February 15, 2017

Finca Montania Sagrada on Valentine’s Day

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Not much of a Valentine’s Day celebrator, but when your new friends from Nicaragua, Italy, Germany, California and Austin welcome you to Ometepe with love, dance and drink .. and maybe even a flower or two, you celebrate. Much love ❤️

Finca Montania Sagrada
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
February 14, 2017

Chillin’ in Little Canada

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We are having a wonderful stay in San Juan del Sur. It’s nice just to relax and do nothing for a few days before heading to Isla de Ometepe for a bit more adventure.

The town of San Juan del Sur itself can be summed up as “little Canada.” It’s a backpackers’ destination complete with a Sunday Funday bar crawl and U.S. dollars in the ATMs.

It may not have a local vibe, but the travel spirit thrives here. Everyone is very friendly, the food is fantastic, and it feels quite safe.

There are more beautiful beaches a short drive away but we wanted to have access to town without a car. So we are staying just outside of town where it’s a bit more quiet but still close enough to walk everywhere.

It’s too windy hang out on the beaches, so for now we are enjoying the breeze and a few cocktails with a lovely view.

San Juan del Sur
Nicaragua
February 13, 2017

Save a Dollar, See the World!

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W never wrote anything about our February trip to Panamá. So we are sitting here in our hotel in Bogotá talking about how accessible the world can be if you make travel a priority – and you really don’t have to break the bank.

We’ve heard the question many times: “How do you get to travel so much?”

Of course there are numerous factors that go into the answer: available vacation time, pet sitters and the lack of unforeseen life expenses.

But world travel doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive.

We’ve read a lot of articles suggesting that you cut back on expenses, like cable, or brow bag your lunch instead of buying an unhealthy $8 sandwich every day.

These are great ideas, and if those don’t work for you, We have another suggestion.

The next time you get a pay increase, open a separate savings account and have $1 an hour of your paycheck automatically deposited there–or stash $40 every week.

If you work full time, you will have $2080 dollars saved up a year later.

We’ve done many trips around the world for $2,000 or less per person. And it isn’t super budget travel either. We’ve done a bunch of trips for $2,000 to $2,500 for both of us, too!

Our days of staying in dorm-style hostels are over. But we do stay in comfortable, low-cost (sometimes low frill) places in great locations around the world.

Here’s how we did Panama:

We usually like to go somewhere warm in February because it’s cold at home and it’s the dry season in Central America and other locations. So, six months ahead of time, we picked a week we wanted to go and plugged three different destinations into our Hopper app for those dates: Panama City, Lima and Quito.

Then we waited. In the mean time, we watched Anthony Bourdain (Update: RIP, sigh, sigh, sigh), Samantha Brown and Jack Maxwell explore these areas. We searched Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet and Viator for suggested itineraries and neighborhoods to explore. This research is half the fun!!

In November, we got an alert from Hopper: “Your flight to Panama is $214. You should book now.”

What?! $214 direct to Panama from Washington, DC? We’re on it!

Flight booked!

Through our internet and television research, we decided to stay in the El Cangrejo district for the first three nights.

An Orbitz promotional rate of $75/night including tax got us a nice room at the Riande Granada Urban hotel. Great pool, workout room and beer garden. We would stay here again!

The hotel was in walking distance to casinos and to Via Argentina–which had lots of restaurants and bars. The area felt much less touristy than other places in the city, and there was still plenty to do.

Theo in Casco Viejo

We hired an Uber driver to take us to the Miraflores locks to check out the canal. The driver waited for us for an hour and kept the meter running. It cost us $20 including an extra tip.

We also hired an Uber driver to take us out to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. We should have had him wait for us, because, although the view was beautiful, there wasn’t much to do. In hind sight, we would’ve had him take us to the nearby Soberania park and wait for us. This wound up being about $70 round trip.

After three nights, we relocated to the touristy Casco Viejo area for one night and stayed at Tantalo, a trendy and fun hotel with an amazing rooftop bar. $145/night. It was definitely cool to check out that area for a night!

After that we took an hour flight to Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side for $200 per person.

We stayed in walking distance to Bocas Town in a little rustic cabin on the water–which was $100+ per night, depending on which cabin you rented.

We splurged and got the cabin on the end overlooking the water for $154/night including tax.

Bocas Town is very much a backpackers town. We had fun hanging out in town at a hostel bar, Selina, that had great happy hours, a pool table, friendly patrons from around the world and a relaxing view of the water.

There were lots of excursions we could have arranged from Bocas Town, but we just decided to relax.

There were some great little restaurants in town, and food prices were reasonable.

After four nights in Bocas, we flew back to Panama City and headed home.

It was an amazing trip!!

Factor in an additional $50/per person for taxi/uber to and from the airport and around town.

So there you have it. Here’s the per person breakdown:

International flight: $214

Domestic fight: $200

Sightseeing transport: $50

Airport and other transport: $50

Accommodations for 8 nights: $500

That’s a little over $1,000 per person for flights, accommodations and transportation. That leaves quite a bit per day to spend on food, drinks, excursions and whatever else.

Or you could budget some of that for the next adventure!