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January 29, 2013

Kings of the Jungle

Tarpon and Snook Dominate Nicaragua’s Wild Caribbean Coast

Taming the Tropics

Jungle shrouds the Rio Indio Lodge, complementing its polished-wood craftsmanship in the same way that vines adorn trees. Nicaraguan artisans created the lodge’s main building, with its 40-foot ceiling and Spanish-tile floors. Twenty-seven cabins fan out from that building along elevated wooden walkways above the jungle floor. At times, spider monkeys and tropical birds visit the lush foliage, and flowering plants add vibrant color.

Cabins come with two queen-size beds, a full bath, a room ­air-conditioner and fans. The lodge’s diesel-fueled ­generator runs at specified times during the day and evening, and remains off at night. Plans are under way to add energy-storage banks to harness more power for longer periods of time.
The lodge employs a top-notch chef and staff, who prepare all meals. Fare ranges from locally caught fish to beef tenderloin and roasted chicken accompanied by regional vegetables and specialties.

Fishing packages start at $2,225 for five days/four nights with three full fishing days, and include round-trip transportation from San Jose, Costa Rica, double-occupancy lodging, all meals, open rum bar, tackle, etc. Call 866-593-3176, or visit the​rio​indio​lodge​.com.

Adventure Travel

To reach the remote, southern coastal region of Nicaragua, my husband and I took a commercial flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, where we met Erik Gibbs, director of sales at Rio Indio Lodge. We planned to connect to a Paradise Air charter for a 35-minute flight to Barra del Colorado near the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but low clouds kept us from leaving that afternoon. We spent the night in San Jose and flew out the next morning.

The paved airstrip at Barra runs through the middle of a small village. A few steps off the runway, we boarded a covered, 10‑seat ­riverboat, powered by a 115 Yamaha. During the two‑hour boat ride to Rio Indio, we passed scattered wooden, open‑air ­houses, waving children and a myriad of small transport vessels. We stopped at several military checkpoints, and paid a $15 tax for Nicaragua entry and exit.

Rio Indio Lodge lies within the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve, just up from the mouth of the San Juan River and a quick boat ride south of San Juan de Nicaragua, where a new airstrip should be completed this month. Visitors in 2012 should be able to board a 35‑minute charter flight from San Jose directly to San Juan de Nicaragua.

To watch a video of tarpon and snook action in coastal Nicaragua or to view a photo gallery from the Rio San Juan, click here.