BalanceJulyIssue17 - 55

Filled with emerald forests and golden sand
beaches, Nicaragua (the largest country in
Central America) is a big draw for those who
love plenty of wildlife, gnarly surf waves and
the great outdoors.
About an hour from the vibrant yet
laid-back town of Grenada (the designfocused Los Patios Hotel, from £93 per night,
is a lovely little bolthole here), Nekupe really is
the place to immerse yourself in nature. Set
on a 1,300-acre private reserve in Nicaragua's
Pacific countryside, it's surrounded by
towering volcanoes, dragonfruit plantations
and thick teak forests.
With just eight suites and villas on site,
here you can hide away in total seclusion,
enjoying your wildly spacious room - with
vast double bed, impeccable rainforest shower
and wallow-friendly bathtub (complete with
magnificent views across the rambling
countryside). Perfect for holing up after an
adventure-filled day outdoors. For more
budget-friendly accommodation in the area
though, Mombacho Lodge (a tiny little
eco-hotel perched on the edge of the volcano)
is also the place to spot sloths, howler
monkeys and gaggles of gem-coloured birds
(cabins start at around £74 per night).
The next morning, I wake early to soak up
the view from my vast balcony - cactus
gardens below, the Mombacho volcano
directly ahead and crisp sugar cane
plantations filling the landscape for as far as
the eye can see - before
heading for some alfresco
yoga. This has to be one
Nekupe means
of the best places on
'heaven' in the
language of the
earth to practice your
sun salutations. As

Chorotega people
of the area.

we smoothly move
through gentle-yetchallenging Ashtanga poses,
colourful hummingbirds flit
around our heads, vultures spiral at eye-level
(we're so high up here) and monkeys hoot
and holler below us.

After a rejuvenating session I'm picked up by
Daniel, my personal butler, in my own
personal All-Terrain-Vehicle (kind of like a
souped-up golf buggy). Guests can zip around
the grounds in these cars (you can drive it
yourself if you're feeling really adventurous),
flitting between the private villas, tennis
courts, indulgent spa and Feng-Shui focused
pool. Those who prefer to do things by foot



This remote Portuguese
archipelago is the perfect place
to get adventurous. Its rugged,
wildlife-rich volcanic landscape
offers some of the best canyoning
(abseiling down waterfalls,
jumping into rock pools and sliding
down water chutes) you can get
anywhere. Try Azores Choice's
week-long trip around the waters
of Flores and São Miguel islands.
From £1,020pp, with flights via
Lisbon (

Even the most intrepid
equestrian will be put to the test
with In The Saddle's Andorra trail,
which spans 350km from the
Mediterranean coast, spiralling
up into the Pyrenees. Travelling
through remote areas accessible
only on foot (or horseback) you'll
pass through Spain, France and
Andorra, climbing to altitudes
of more than 3,000m. Strictly
NOT for the fainthearted. Runs
May to November, from £1,424,
excluding flights to Barcelona or
Girona (

A view around the
Nekupe resort; a
traditional Nicaraguan
colonial house

can don their hiking boots and amble
around some of Nekupe's more challenging
trails, including the 'Stairway to heaven', a
mountain of hundreds of steep steps,
opening out onto a devastatingly beautiful
view of the surrounding countryside. If
you're lucky you'll be able to see Lake
Nicaragua and the twin volcanic peaks of
nearby Isla de Ometepe (stay at the
beachfront Xalli hotel, from £30 per night,
for great views of the volcanoes and a
superb seafood restaurant).
I, however, am on my way to Don
Alfredo's restaurant (named after Nekupe's
owner), where chef Julio Sanchez serves me
up a thrilling feast of zucchini gazpacho,
tender sea bass fillet and zingy caramelised
sweet pineapple with passion fruit sorbet.

Years of ice shelf movements on
Iceland's Myrdalsjokull ice cap
have led to the development of
sinkholes, crevasses, ridges and
ice formations, just begging to
be explored on this challenging
day-tour. Go where few have
ventured (namely Sólheimajökull,
a glacier 'snout' on the ice-cap),
Nature Kicks will guide you on
combined hiking and climbing
tour from Reykjavik to the very
edges of this mysterious country.
From £359pp (

July 2017 BALANCE

After time on the shooting range (much
more relaxing and eco-friendly than it
sounds) and an impeccably delivered
'five senses' spa treatment, using products
inspired by the natural environment, I
round off the adventure on an impromptu
night safari. As Daniel and I wind our way
through tangled trails and fields of passion
fruit plants, we spot scorpions, skunks and
opossums illuminated in the flashlight.
Nicaragua really is a wonderful place to get
lost in the wilderness. B


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