by Laura May

El Zopilote

A unique, jungle wonderland experience that will open your eyes to the world of permaculture.

Absolute Highlight

The restaurant - which offers delicious, organic food with most ingredients locally sourced straight from El Zopilote’s farm.

In a nutshell

No. of rooms
You can choose from private huts, dormitory rooms, hammocks or camping.
The design aesthetic is...
Jungle oasis
The typical guest is...
The free spirited backpacker
The sustainability features (ie. plastic free, recycling, green wall, garden) are...
Eco-friendly buildings, compost toilets, solar power, and the organic restaurant on site, using locally sourced produce.
The location is...
Ometepe, Nicaragua
Interaction is encouraged by....
Daily activities such as yoga, the permaculture farm tour, hiking, and the famous pizza nights held on Thursday and Saturday evenings.
You should stay here because
It will open your eyes to the world of Permaculture, and leave you in awe of the natural world.
What took you there?

I was first drawn to El Zopilote because I am always keen to support eco hostels, however, I had never heard of permaculture before. During my stay at El Zopilote I learnt firsthand that, in a nutshell, permaculture is a design system for ecological and sustainable living that incorporates plants, animals, buildings, people and communities. Out of all the eco hostels I stayed at during my travels through Central and South America, I found El Zopilote to be the most authentic of them all.

What was your room like?

I stayed in a private room called the ‘Mariposa Hut’. The rooms are all dotted around the farm, and it really does feel like you could be in the middle of the jungle. In terms of facilities, if you are someone who enjoys your home creature comforts, then this may not be the place to stay for you. In saying that, if you can let go and be at one with nature, you will truly have a fulfilling experience.

What about the venue

The different sections of the hostel are spread out across the farm, with the common area being the restaurant. Depending on your choice of accommodation your stay at El Zopilote can be as basic as you like, however even the private rooms may not be up to scratch if you are travelling on a mid-high range budget and expect those little extras. I found that sacrificing a few creature comforts for a couple of nights really opened my eyes to living a more sustainable future and helping our planet. If you are travelling solo, there are plenty of free-spirited, open-minded individuals to connect with. You can also feel safe and sleep soundly at night because the farm is tucked away from the main areas and towns. 

Tell us about the destination

Ometepe is an island within a large lake in Nicaragua, well known because of its twin volcanoes that you can see from almost everywhere on the island. Getting to and from the island can be quite the adventure (as it is only accessible by ferry from the mainland), but is well worth the trip.

Who did you meet there?

Zopilote is filled with shirtless yogis, musicians, slackliners, and like-minded travellers with an interest in the environment. One of the highlights was meeting the owner Bruno on one of the daily tours of the farm, where we were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn firsthand the reasons why they pursued this adventure. After a lot of hard work establishing the farm, Bruno and his two sons have realised their dream of creating a space where travellers can stay and enjoy, whilst also living in harmony with nature.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
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Surrounding Activities

Explore the Isla Ometepe island

Explore the island on motorbikes - this is a popular way to see the island (which is bigger than you think!), but be aware of some roads that can be a little challenging.

Isla Ometepe

San Ramon Waterfall

This is a beautiful day hike where you will be rewarded with a refreshing waterfall to cool off. The best way to get to the start of this hike is by motorbike.

San Ramon Waterfall

Hike the Volcanoes

The most popular of the two is Volcano Concepcion, you will need to hire a guide if you wish to do this but can be organised through El Zopilote.

The Volcanos on Ometepe