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Travel Journal


The boat that would take us back leaves twice a week, very early in the morning. We had to be at the wharf before 5AM, and we left when the sun was rising. The boat was not full at all, and we could easily find a seat.

The return trip was as spectacular as the voyage to San Juan del Norte. We enjoyed the spectacular nature around the river and the beauty of the San Juan River itself. Fortunately, we now passed the shallow water without getting stuck.

The Dutch couple was also traveling in the same boat, and it was one of them, Tim, who all of a sudden spotted Red Macaws flying over. We had been looking for these spectacular birds in the forest, but it was not until now that we actually saw them. They were very large and impressive, but they settled down in a very high tree so we could only take some vague pictures.

The boat clearly had more trouble to travel up than travel down the river. When we came at the rapids, it took more time to get past them. Nevertheless it was not very late when we arrived at the southwestern border of the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. The so-called Bartola River forms the border of the reserve, and we arrived at this point at 1PM. Here we got off to spend the last day that we would have in the Río San Juan department.

Bordering the reserve, on the banks of the river, lays the Bartola Refugio Hotel. The hotel consists of a handful of comfortable cabins and a large rancho, overlooking the river and bordered not only by the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, but also by their private reserve.

We first had an excellent lunch, and after rapidly installing our stuff in our room we went hiking in the private reserve of Bartola. Armed with a map of the trails we walked through the lush vegetation and saw several lizards, beautiful insects including a large, blue morpho, and many different birds including a small, green parrot. We also saw the red dart frogs that we had also seen around San Juan del Norte.

After hiking for over an hour we reached a point where we could access the river. Here, Róger entered the water with the camera and the underwater case, trying to take pictures of fish or other water animals. In the meantime, I explored the surrounding area. After following a small trail I ended up at another rocky terrain that gave access to the river. I took pictures of the many frogs and the river itself, but when I wanted to return I could not find the path! Róger had to come down there to locate the small trail that I was unable to find after walking around on the river shores.

We hiked back and arrived at the hotel when the sun was about to set. There was just enough time left to go up a small part of the river in boat. Here we saw the impressive forest as well as water animals, including several large river bass. We also saw bubbles arise, which according to the guide could be either of three water animals, but when he gave a list of the possibilities I had no idea what kind of animals he was talking about; they were names I had never heard.

When we got back at the hotel we had another superb meal and we enjoyed the tranquility and serenity of the site. This is probably one of the best places to escape the busy, everyday life and to relax completely.