What We Love
- Each room is provided one ATV to explore the surrounding nature reserve
- A complimentary bottle of Flor de Caña rum, presented upon arrival
- Unobstructed views of the Mombacho Volcano
- An annual onsite yoga retreat
What To Know
- Don’t be surprised if you receive an email prior to your stay, asking how you take your coffee—hospitality takes on new heights here
- Over 12 percent of Nicaragua’s 700 animal species reside here
- The resort is predominantly solar-powered
Despite its mountainous backdrop—home to 14,000 trees, 73 bird species, and unbeatable volcano vistas—this beguiling eight-room property is anything but rugged. The otherworldly vision of Central American philanthropist Alfredo Pellas Jr. and his wife Theresa pairs intimate affluence with a conservationist’s zeal. Case in point: the one-on-one cooking lesson with the chef-in-residence features produce from the resort’s 13,000-square-foot organic vegetable garden. Though sustainability doesn’t overpower style here. Accommodations consist of four stone-and-glass villas and one four-bedroom residence (the latter comes with its own infinity-edge “hot tub”), kitted out in local woods, leathers, and cowhides. At the property’s heart is an airy communal space, the Casa Club, featuring a swish lobby lounge and panoramic views of the surrounding bluffs. It’s the outdoor experiences, though, that are the all-stars here, whether it’s a horseback ride that meanders through the neighboring teak plantation, Ashtanga yoga on a deck surrounded by plumeria blossoms, or a jaunty hike that concludes with 360-degree views of the dazzling property.
In the Area
Tucked in Nandaime, a small farming town, this sweeping countryside retreat is about half an hour from the colonial city of Granada, and two hours from Managua’s international airport. Its most intriguing neighbor, however, is the Pacific Ocean, an hour’s drive west. The hotel can arrange for surfing trips, though real thrill-seekers may opt to swap beach waves for the slopes of Cerro Negro and try their hand at volcano boarding, which involves sliding down a sleep, sooty incline on a plywood sled. With a shooting range, marimba classes, and ATV adventures onsite, though, you may opt to hunker down in your lush hideaway instead.
How to Get There
This truly unique spectacular place is special not only for its setting but the people, they are what make this resort exceptional for all who visit. They care deeply about the environment and how we interact with the world. Every delicious meal was lovingly prepared and served —doors were open to see what was going on in the kitchen. This must be experienced to truly understand the magic —enchantment—I was spellbound. Peter, Luis, Valerio, Julio, Carlos & Nicholas thank you....and so many more. To the owners for envisioned this place —-remarkable innovation and heartfelt thank you, would not have changed a moment
Nekupe is a unique, special place.
It is worthy of being a destination in and of itself or as part of a broader tour.
It provided our family with our most memorable travel experience we have had. Like others who have posted here, we have had the good fortune of many experiences and Nekupe is a standout among them, such that on return to home we are talking about a return visit.
Our group: family of six, consisting of three adults and three children (16, 13, and 8). We took two of the four Nangu (casitas). We split a two-week trip evenly between beach on the Pacific Coast and Nekupe. The trip was early – mid August 2019.
Property: absolutely stunning scenery.
The primary view from our Nangu was of Mombacho, which stands out from the flat land with magnificence. We started every day with a magical sunrise, whether having coffee on our decks listening to the competing howler monkey families and awakening birds or taking a mild hike up to a chapel to take in a slightly different perspective and burn a few calories.
The massive property is a weave of ATV trails through jungle leading to a wide variety of high-end treats spread throughout the property in a manner that makes enjoying each one its own adventure: beautiful, sophisticated clubhouse with stunning views; one-of-a-kind spa set deep in a jungle valley (imagine finishing an early evening massage looking out through open massive doors into the depths of raw jungle); separate areas for horses, monkeys, birds, chickens, iguanas, other animals; considerably sized workout facility with floor to ceiling windows and window doors; secret platforms sprinkled about for taking in views or other activities; a sophisticated, expansive shooting facility; and more.
This large property has eight rooms (four suites in La Residencia and four Nangu), so there is a small number of people enjoying this property at any given time, meaning that there is privacy in living spaces, communal spaces, and activity areas. It would be a fantastic place for a family retreat, group of friends or families, or even an off-the-beaten path, high end work retreat.
All of the facilities are luxurious.
People: The staff’s love of working there comes through in the way that they thoughtfully create magic for the guests. Actually, we were treated not as mere guests but rather exalted visiting family. There are not really any shifts here; there is a team of people with different roles who communicate with each other constantly and seamlessly from daybreak into the evening to make sure that you enjoy exceptional experiences. As an example, our 8 year-old son took to helping out the chef at the meals for the last few days (disappearing from the family on his own, sometimes whisked away on ATV to some adventurous outdoor dining spot for prep work), which would be a strange thing at an Aman, Belmond, or Four Seasons, but was embraced by the chef (Carlos) and director of food (Julio) and a highlight of our son’s trip. He wore his Nekupe apron and chef hat with pride and left with those as gifts from the staff and tears for the new friends he was leaving.
The ranger for your room is your majordomo, taking in all of your desires and coordinating with others to make them happen on your desired timeframe. He or she is also an outdoor expert and drives you around in your personal roomy 6-person ATV; takes you on excursions; educates on flora, fauna, and culture; and basically makes sure all of the magic happens. We found our rangers (we had two because we had two rooms) to quickly understand our interests and pacing and tailor everything accordingly.
Experiences: one of the best things about Nekupe is the fact that you can participate in the variety of compelling activities largely on your own schedule. One of our rangers sent us a proposed itinerary a week in advance and it was packed full of interesting things to do. We used it as a guidepost and the only thing we scheduled in advance was a horseback ride the first afternoon. Flexibility of scheduling is key to combining adventure with leisure. For example, many days we opted for a pre-breakfast dip in one of the stunning pools instead of a hike. Basically, things happen on your own pace and if you want to just luxuriate and delay, do it.
We had so many great adventures on property: five horseback rides through jungle; exposure to shooting (rifles, pistols, shotguns) with professional training and oversight; ATV adventures; jungle spa massages; exploring reforestation areas; visiting exotic rehabilitated animals (monkeys, macaws, iguanas, more) and farm animals; cooking class; stargazing at the fire pit; visiting organic greenhouses and fields; and more.
Another theme is that you can help devise your own adventures (and do them at your pacing). For example, we asked if a proposed ATV tour through reforested teak forests could instead be a horseback ride. Of course! (And it proved to be the most magical of them all.) If you love horses and want to take off the saddle and brush and wash your horse? Whatever you like! Stop in to collect some eggs from one of the 69 chickens for your breakfast, hold a white capuchin, visit the aviary? As you wish.
Off property: Masaya at dusk / evening is a must (if people are quiet the sloshing lava sounds like ocean waves – magical). Mombacho presents a few nice hike options at the top. The medium difficulty was right for us and allowed us to experience sulphur emissions from crevices, take in sweeping panoramas, and trek on trails through the jungle. The long puma trail looks interesting but is a 3-4 hour affair and strenuous. We enjoyed the zip lining, which is also on Mombacho. Our tour of the isletas was about an hour or an hour and a half. Many of the islands have structures of some sort. It is a pretty ride, with an opportunity to see some birds and just be out on the water. The water is murky and you probably won’t want to swim in it (go to the clear waters of Apoyo instead). We walked around Granada and enjoyed it, taking in a dinner at El Zaguan, which is probably the top restaurant in town (but nothing in the area holds a candle to the cuisine at Nekupe). Apoyo is an interesting lagoon. We stopped for appetizers and snack at Hotel Posada Ecologica La Abuela. There are some decks (8 feet and 12 feet, approx.. that guests jump off of into the clear water and then swim around to a moored raft. It was a growth experience for our kids and refreshing for us. I suspect that there may be more to do out on the lagoon (fishing, watching eagles, kayaking or sailing), and when we return, which we must, we will look into these things further. We bought some lovely pottery at a shop in Catarina. You should give thought as to whether you want to do off property items on a single day or break it up into a couple of partial days. We enjoyed the drives through towns and countryside and chose for two more leisurely days, but there is a bit of travel involved to get to Granada (30-40 minutes), which is somewhat central to the various activities mentioned here. We enjoyed the drives and seeing Nicaraguan life.
Food: we were sent a proposed menu several days in advance and encouraged to give feedback, all of which was incorporated (including my request for baho, which (I did not know) involved overnight cooking and attending). As might be expected, Nekupe has unparalleled access to food ingredients. On our first day, we were introduced to the 36 – 40 inch mahi mahi that had been just driven in from the coast. Same thing later in the week for our lobster dinner. We tried and failed to keep straight all of the fruits, berries, vegetables, and other goodies that went into our soups, seasonings, homemade ice creams, etc. We had a wonderful cooking class one evening making ceviche, soup, and a flambé prawns dish. Another evening, an entertaining Flor de Cana rum tasting with Julio. The people making and directing the food were not ghosts behind closed doors. They could be if desired, but for us they were friends and an important part of our experience.
Pot Pori: we went in early / mid August and wondered about the weather given that it was the rainy season. We had rain for about an hour on two of 14 days in that area (we spent seven nights on a beach and seven at Nekupe). The Pacific Coast area, which includes Nandaime, is not nearly as wet as other regions and each of those rains was very welcome and refreshing (including one while horseback riding through the teak forest at Nekupe). The point is that the “rainy” season can be fine, although we understand October is the wettest month. Anecdotally, we understand months around April to be hotter and drier and I wonder about what the lush greenery we saw would be like. Mosquitos were far less of an issue than we thought they would be. Long, loose clothing and spray is a good idea out in the jungle (on horseback rides and the like) but honestly the bugs are far more intense in much of the US.
We originally targeted four nights. That would be better than not going, but would have been woefully short for us. With seven nights we felt like we could relax and do things at our own pace and just take a siesta in a hammock or idle in a pool as we wished. We could easily spend two weeks at the property.
This property is a destination in and of itself. Or you can do as we did and couple it with something else, such as a beach stay. We chose to hit the beach in Nicaragua for (different) rugged beauty and surfing, which you could also do in Costa Rica and fly from Liberia to Managua or the Costa Esmeralda airport (the former has more options and is a bit closer to Nekupe).
When you are here, you feel very far away from everything back home. It is a different world. There is very good wifi in the living structures and clubhouse, but this place compels you to put the devices away (without guilt).
We were safe at all times in Nicaragua, which is suffering from a legacy reputation since the unrest in 2018. We journeyed from Managua airport to Rancho Santana (our first stop) then over to Nekupe and also made a couple of day trips. We did not feel unease at any time. Hopefully, others will venture back and experience the welcoming warmth that we did. Nicaragua is culturally rich but economically poor. Seeing daily life is a part of the experience of visiting this country. Traveling in the country and seeing local communities and people living and working the land was a growth experience for our children, adding another positive dimension to this trip.
We will be back to Nicaragua and Nekupe.
This review is long overdue since our stay the 1st week of January 2018. My husband and I stayed for 4 nights in what is now called "Nangu Cabana" upgraded from a Jr. Nangu Cabana. Not sure why they changed the names of the room from suites to Nangu.
Our trek to Nekupe started off horribly since the driver we hired on our own got lost and took us over an hour out of our way to get there. So I highly suggest you hire Nekupe's drivers to get you from the MGA airport to the property although very pricey. Once we finally got there we were greeted by our ranger Luis for the duration of our stay. We then hopped on the ATV and Luis drove us to our cabana. Your ranger is w/ you on ALL your activities w/ the exception of when we went to the gym and we asked if he can just drop of us off and pick as up in an hour. You are really not permitted to walk around the property w/out your ranger for safety reasons. You are driven by your ranger to all your activities. You can easily call him from your room and he is readily available.
Chauffer driven ATV or the only way you can drive the ATV yourself is when accompanied by your ranger for liability reasons. Upon your arrival you must sign a waiver saying you're responsible for any damage to the ATV if you choose to drive it which is the norm.
Horseback riding was awesome thru the property. There are numerous monkeys you will encounter while on your ride. I've only ridden a horse a handful of times and it was a pleasant experience for me. The horses were well kept and friendly.
Specialized mountain bikes offered are in great condition but know that the terrain on most of the property is rocky and bumpy w/ a few inclines and more like off road biking if you're into that sort of cycling which I was not so I quickly ended that activity.
The ropes course is only available if there is a minimum number of guests willing to participate in the activity. Unfortunately during our stay, the minimum was not met.
Hiking was very moderate and leisurely. No advanced trails.
Additional cost activities:
Target shooting was awesome although pricey at about $2/bullet
There are plenty of off-site activities that we did not participate in due to its distance from the property as well as high costs.
The culinary was the best! I cannot fault it in any way along w/ the service and the staff. The service and culinary at Nekupe was definitely 5* quality. The staff is VERY ATTENTIVE and FRIENDLY. The only negative about dining was having to sign off on a bill at the end of every meal even though meals are included in your rate. So for example, at breakfast we still had to ask for the check. You are also driven by your ranger to the restaurant for all your meals.
One final note, the roads especially on an ATV is a very bumpy ride. And you are on an ATV daily going back and forth to the restaurant, activities, etc.
All-in-all I would love to return to Nekupe w/ my family next time.