Finca La Bastilla is a huge coffee growing estate in the Datani el Diablo Nature Reserve. Twenty kilometres from the town of Jinotega it took about an hour to drive from Estelí to reach the entrance to the coffee estate. The Ecolodge was 5km further on up a steep, bumpy road – thank goodness we were in a four-wheel drive!
The Ecolodge is owned by the La Bastilla Technical Centre for Agriculture and tourism. It was set up by the coffee estate in 2009 to teach practical and business skills. According to the website 100% of the profits are reinvested back into the education of the students all of whom come from local low-income families.
The accommodation is in pleasant, spacious timber cabins constructed in pairs with wide balconies overlooking the cloud forest and the coffee plantation. They have ensuite bathrooms with solar- heated showers.There are also camping platforms and a dormitory.
We hoped to enjoy the views, see lots of birds and enjoy the diverse menu of international dishes and traditional Nicaraguan food in the restaurant, as suggested by the website.
Not all our hopes were realised! It was lovely sitting on the balcony admiring the view but we were disappointed to see how many trees had been felled to make space for coffee. Although the coffee is shade grown, we were offered a printed explanation of how much clearance is necessary to secure growth on the very steep slopes. It’s a shame even so to see so much deforestation immediately adjacent to a national Nature Reserve.
There were fewer birds than we expected and far less than we saw at Finca Esperanza Verde at the same time last year.But we did see the Emerald Toucanet – no picture how ever.
The food was disappointing and monotonous with very little choice for anyone. No fish although as we drove to Jinotega to get the bus we drove alongside the massive Lake Apaña where everyone beside the road had fresh fish for sale! A typical Nicaraguan breakfast of gallopinto (rice and beans) with eggs, cheese and fired plantain is nice, but not every day!
We have to try new places or how do we know what they’re like? But on this occasion we won’t be recommending La Bastilla to anyone!
Here’s some photos anyway.
The next (and last) post of this trip will tell you all about the last 10 days at La Mariposa and what fun we had with Janie and las chicas when they visited for the weekend.