by Courtney Elko
Nekupe, which means heaven in the Mayan language, truly is a slice of nirvana situated within the jungles of Nicaragua, less than an hour south of Granada.
This sporting resort that opened in 2017 sits on 1,800 acres of jungle reserve and allows visitors to connect with nature through volcanic and jungle views, outdoor activities, wildlife, and luxurious amenities. Families will love the unique and personalized experiences of Nekupe that can include things like horseback riding, meeting monkeys, swimming in an infinity pool overlooking the jungle and riding ATVs everywhere!
Every room at this all-inclusive Nicaraguan resort comes with its own six-seater ATV and a personal ranger who is ready to become a part of your family and lead you through the wonders of the Nekupe experience.
This luxury sporting resort — owned by the Pellas family who also own the Flor de Cana rum company — offers families a unique Nicaraguan experience that allows you to get dirty outside and rejuvenate inside in the beautifully designed villas, suites and clubhouse.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive jungle reserve
- ATV and ranger with every room
- Monkeys and horses
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are eight rooms total at Nekupe. There are four individual villas, and four suites are situated within La Residencia. The suites can accommodate between four and six people or the entire residence can accommodate 14 people. The villas can accommodate up to four people. A coffeemaker and mini-fridge filled with beverages and snacks are included in your rate and found in all of the suites and villas. Cribs are available upon request and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.
The Villas overlook the nature reserve and offer great volcano views. The villas feature a king bed, sitting area with a sofa that converts to a bed, flat-screen television and a standup shower and tub in the bathroom. There is a large patio area with a large dining table that's great for checking out the panoramic views.
The suites and grand suites are located within La Residencia. The suites can be booked individually and guests then share the amenities of the residence. Or, the entire residences can be booked as one (see below). The suites feature one king or two queen beds, high ceilings, personal infinity pools only steps away from the beds, coffeemaker, a fully stocked mini-fridge, indoor and outdoor showers and custom tubs, and a separate living room area with large sectional couches and a flat-screen television. The outdoor decks are expansive and feature two levels, infinity pools, lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas -- all overlooking the jungle with the sound of howler monkeys in the distance.
The 24,000-square-foot residence houses both the suites and grand suites and when booked together, families can occupy the entire residence. With the entire residence, families can enjoy a personal chef and two large state-of-the-art gourmet kitchens with subzero refrigerators, a large media room with cozy couch, a poker table, separate living room area with large couches and a flat-screen television, private dining table that seats 12, a second smaller dining table in the second kitchen, two pools and various bar areas.
This truly unique spectacular place is special not only for its setting but the people, they are what make this resort exceptional for all who visit. They care deeply about the environment and how we interact with the world. Every delicious meal was lovingly prepared and served —doors were open to see what was going on in the kitchen. This must be experienced to truly understand the magic —enchantment—I was spellbound. Peter, Luis, Valerio, Julio, Carlos & Nicholas thank you....and so many more. To the owners for envisioned this place —-remarkable innovation and heartfelt thank you, would not have changed a moment
Nekupe is a unique, special place.
It is worthy of being a destination in and of itself or as part of a broader tour.
It provided our family with our most memorable travel experience we have had. Like others who have posted here, we have had the good fortune of many experiences and Nekupe is a standout among them, such that on return to home we are talking about a return visit.
Our group: family of six, consisting of three adults and three children (16, 13, and 8). We took two of the four Nangu (casitas). We split a two-week trip evenly between beach on the Pacific Coast and Nekupe. The trip was early – mid August 2019.
Property: absolutely stunning scenery.
The primary view from our Nangu was of Mombacho, which stands out from the flat land with magnificence. We started every day with a magical sunrise, whether having coffee on our decks listening to the competing howler monkey families and awakening birds or taking a mild hike up to a chapel to take in a slightly different perspective and burn a few calories.
The massive property is a weave of ATV trails through jungle leading to a wide variety of high-end treats spread throughout the property in a manner that makes enjoying each one its own adventure: beautiful, sophisticated clubhouse with stunning views; one-of-a-kind spa set deep in a jungle valley (imagine finishing an early evening massage looking out through open massive doors into the depths of raw jungle); separate areas for horses, monkeys, birds, chickens, iguanas, other animals; considerably sized workout facility with floor to ceiling windows and window doors; secret platforms sprinkled about for taking in views or other activities; a sophisticated, expansive shooting facility; and more.
This large property has eight rooms (four suites in La Residencia and four Nangu), so there is a small number of people enjoying this property at any given time, meaning that there is privacy in living spaces, communal spaces, and activity areas. It would be a fantastic place for a family retreat, group of friends or families, or even an off-the-beaten path, high end work retreat.
All of the facilities are luxurious.
People: The staff’s love of working there comes through in the way that they thoughtfully create magic for the guests. Actually, we were treated not as mere guests but rather exalted visiting family. There are not really any shifts here; there is a team of people with different roles who communicate with each other constantly and seamlessly from daybreak into the evening to make sure that you enjoy exceptional experiences. As an example, our 8 year-old son took to helping out the chef at the meals for the last few days (disappearing from the family on his own, sometimes whisked away on ATV to some adventurous outdoor dining spot for prep work), which would be a strange thing at an Aman, Belmond, or Four Seasons, but was embraced by the chef (Carlos) and director of food (Julio) and a highlight of our son’s trip. He wore his Nekupe apron and chef hat with pride and left with those as gifts from the staff and tears for the new friends he was leaving.
The ranger for your room is your majordomo, taking in all of your desires and coordinating with others to make them happen on your desired timeframe. He or she is also an outdoor expert and drives you around in your personal roomy 6-person ATV; takes you on excursions; educates on flora, fauna, and culture; and basically makes sure all of the magic happens. We found our rangers (we had two because we had two rooms) to quickly understand our interests and pacing and tailor everything accordingly.
Experiences: one of the best things about Nekupe is the fact that you can participate in the variety of compelling activities largely on your own schedule. One of our rangers sent us a proposed itinerary a week in advance and it was packed full of interesting things to do. We used it as a guidepost and the only thing we scheduled in advance was a horseback ride the first afternoon. Flexibility of scheduling is key to combining adventure with leisure. For example, many days we opted for a pre-breakfast dip in one of the stunning pools instead of a hike. Basically, things happen on your own pace and if you want to just luxuriate and delay, do it.
We had so many great adventures on property: five horseback rides through jungle; exposure to shooting (rifles, pistols, shotguns) with professional training and oversight; ATV adventures; jungle spa massages; exploring reforestation areas; visiting exotic rehabilitated animals (monkeys, macaws, iguanas, more) and farm animals; cooking class; stargazing at the fire pit; visiting organic greenhouses and fields; and more.
Another theme is that you can help devise your own adventures (and do them at your pacing). For example, we asked if a proposed ATV tour through reforested teak forests could instead be a horseback ride. Of course! (And it proved to be the most magical of them all.) If you love horses and want to take off the saddle and brush and wash your horse? Whatever you like! Stop in to collect some eggs from one of the 69 chickens for your breakfast, hold a white capuchin, visit the aviary? As you wish.
Off property: Masaya at dusk / evening is a must (if people are quiet the sloshing lava sounds like ocean waves – magical). Mombacho presents a few nice hike options at the top. The medium difficulty was right for us and allowed us to experience sulphur emissions from crevices, take in sweeping panoramas, and trek on trails through the jungle. The long puma trail looks interesting but is a 3-4 hour affair and strenuous. We enjoyed the zip lining, which is also on Mombacho. Our tour of the isletas was about an hour or an hour and a half. Many of the islands have structures of some sort. It is a pretty ride, with an opportunity to see some birds and just be out on the water. The water is murky and you probably won’t want to swim in it (go to the clear waters of Apoyo instead). We walked around Granada and enjoyed it, taking in a dinner at El Zaguan, which is probably the top restaurant in town (but nothing in the area holds a candle to the cuisine at Nekupe). Apoyo is an interesting lagoon. We stopped for appetizers and snack at Hotel Posada Ecologica La Abuela. There are some decks (8 feet and 12 feet, approx.. that guests jump off of into the clear water and then swim around to a moored raft. It was a growth experience for our kids and refreshing for us. I suspect that there may be more to do out on the lagoon (fishing, watching eagles, kayaking or sailing), and when we return, which we must, we will look into these things further. We bought some lovely pottery at a shop in Catarina. You should give thought as to whether you want to do off property items on a single day or break it up into a couple of partial days. We enjoyed the drives through towns and countryside and chose for two more leisurely days, but there is a bit of travel involved to get to Granada (30-40 minutes), which is somewhat central to the various activities mentioned here. We enjoyed the drives and seeing Nicaraguan life.
Food: we were sent a proposed menu several days in advance and encouraged to give feedback, all of which was incorporated (including my request for baho, which (I did not know) involved overnight cooking and attending). As might be expected, Nekupe has unparalleled access to food ingredients. On our first day, we were introduced to the 36 – 40 inch mahi mahi that had been just driven in from the coast. Same thing later in the week for our lobster dinner. We tried and failed to keep straight all of the fruits, berries, vegetables, and other goodies that went into our soups, seasonings, homemade ice creams, etc. We had a wonderful cooking class one evening making ceviche, soup, and a flambé prawns dish. Another evening, an entertaining Flor de Cana rum tasting with Julio. The people making and directing the food were not ghosts behind closed doors. They could be if desired, but for us they were friends and an important part of our experience.
Pot Pori: we went in early / mid August and wondered about the weather given that it was the rainy season. We had rain for about an hour on two of 14 days in that area (we spent seven nights on a beach and seven at Nekupe). The Pacific Coast area, which includes Nandaime, is not nearly as wet as other regions and each of those rains was very welcome and refreshing (including one while horseback riding through the teak forest at Nekupe). The point is that the “rainy” season can be fine, although we understand October is the wettest month. Anecdotally, we understand months around April to be hotter and drier and I wonder about what the lush greenery we saw would be like. Mosquitos were far less of an issue than we thought they would be. Long, loose clothing and spray is a good idea out in the jungle (on horseback rides and the like) but honestly the bugs are far more intense in much of the US.
We originally targeted four nights. That would be better than not going, but would have been woefully short for us. With seven nights we felt like we could relax and do things at our own pace and just take a siesta in a hammock or idle in a pool as we wished. We could easily spend two weeks at the property.
This property is a destination in and of itself. Or you can do as we did and couple it with something else, such as a beach stay. We chose to hit the beach in Nicaragua for (different) rugged beauty and surfing, which you could also do in Costa Rica and fly from Liberia to Managua or the Costa Esmeralda airport (the former has more options and is a bit closer to Nekupe).
When you are here, you feel very far away from everything back home. It is a different world. There is very good wifi in the living structures and clubhouse, but this place compels you to put the devices away (without guilt).
We were safe at all times in Nicaragua, which is suffering from a legacy reputation since the unrest in 2018. We journeyed from Managua airport to Rancho Santana (our first stop) then over to Nekupe and also made a couple of day trips. We did not feel unease at any time. Hopefully, others will venture back and experience the welcoming warmth that we did. Nicaragua is culturally rich but economically poor. Seeing daily life is a part of the experience of visiting this country. Traveling in the country and seeing local communities and people living and working the land was a growth experience for our children, adding another positive dimension to this trip.
We will be back to Nicaragua and Nekupe.
Nekupe wants your family to have the best experience possible, so they like to personalize your activities and itinerary during your stay. Let them know at booking (or tell your ranger when you arrive) what you want to do at the resort or off-property and they will arrange the details. Your personal ranger will be with you for your entire stay; even if you leave the property to explore more of Nicaragua, your ranger is always ready to assist with anything.
Pool and Casa Club
The main pool can be found at the Casa Club, or the center of Nekupe, and is loosely considered the resort's lobby. This communal area looks more like a residence than a pool clubhouse. Here, guests will find a large pool area with sunken lounge chairs in the water and chairs and umbrellas surrounding the large pool deck and a fire pit. Inside, there is a large living room area with a large sectional couch, flat-screen television and plenty of seating areas.
Upstairs is a smaller lounge area that can be used for romantic dinners. Restrooms and showers are situated by the pool, along with a bar area. The suites at the resort also feature personal pools for guests staying there, but all guests are welcome to enjoy the Casa Club.
The resort and your ranger will cater to whatever your child is interested in doing at Nekupe. For children ages 6 to 9, the resort offers horse and bunny feeding, reptile petting, farming activities, board games and swimming. For tweens and teens, there are bike rides, ATV rides, hiking, tennis, swimming and more.
Included Outdoor Adventure
There are numerous outdoor adventures to be had at Nekupe, and most are included in your stay. ATVs rides, horseback riding for all skill levels on the many trails found within the 1,800 acres, mountain biking on an hour-long circuit, bird watching the nearly 73 species of birds, farming in the gardens, hiking through the jungle and conquering the ropes course high in the trees are a few of the activities your family can enjoy.
Included Indoor Activities
Cooking classes, music and folklore classes, rum tasting and cigar rolling are available to guests. Painting classes are also available for kids and adults for an additional fee.
Families are surrounded by wildlife in this natural reserve, but your family may want to check out a few special friends. A few monkeys, who were domesticated and can no longer survive in the wild, live on the reserve and like to say hello to guests after being pampered themselves with a nice bath and brushing. Nearly 73 species of birds are found throughout the resort and ducks and chickens like to hang out by the resort's large pond area.
Two tennis courts are onsite and complimentary to use. Lessons for all ages and skill levels are available by a professional tennis instructor for an additional fee.
For an additional cost, guests can test their skills at the numerous shooting stations found around the resort. Clay shooting and target shooting are available with a variety of guns. There are a large variety of shooting stations and styles, putting Nekupe's courses on a globally competitive level. Experienced instructors are on staff to educate and guide guests through the sport and the courses.
Offsite adventures like volcano sandboarding, sport fishing, surfing, tours of Granada, boat tours of Lake Nicaragua and visits to local villages and volcanos are just some of the adventures Nekupe can arrange for your family. Your personal ranger will accompany you on your offsite adventures, as well.
All meals and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are included in your stay. Guests are welcome to upgrade to a more premium level of alcohol. Much of the food served at Nekupe comes directly from its own onsite farm. The menus are seasonal and offer the freshest and most local ingredients. Any dietary restrictions or allergies can be accommodated.
Located in the Casa Club, this small restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner is a four-course meal, with menus changing daily.
Casual, picnic-style lunches (that are by no means roughing it) can be enjoyed throughout the resort. Lunch can be served under the trees or overlooking a volcano, and the food is divine.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
All meals and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are included in your stay. Guests are welcome to upgrade to a more premium level of alcohol as well.
ATVs and Rangers
Each room comes with one ATV and one ranger, who is essentially a personal butler, activities coordinator, chauffer and excursion leader. You will have the same ranger during your entire stay and they will become a part of your family. They quickly get to know you and cater to all of your wants and needs. They will immediately become your child's best friend and they will know where all the fun can be had at Nekupe.
The 1,800 acres of this jungle resort require some alternate transportation and the six-seater, covered ATVs are the perfect way to get around the resort. Of course guests (with a valid driver's license) are welcome to drive the ATVs with the ranger inside. The rocky, dirt trails around the resort have hills and turns, but it's easy to navigate with the help of the ranger. Do keep in mind that the ATV kicks up dirt and dust (and mud during rainy season), but you won't mind getting a little dirty when there's so much fun to be had while driving.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort.
Guests can use the state-of-the-art fitness center, which features cardio machines and weights overlooking the jungle. A personal trainer is available upon request.
A small boutique can be found in the Casa Club, where guests will find souvenirs, jewelry, clothing and Flor de Cana rum available for purchase.
Located on the highest point of the property, the gorgeous wooden chapel is available for meditation, weddings or celebrations. There is a small pool outside the chapel that can be used for baptisms or other celebrations.
Babysitting can be arranged at the resort.
The Best Time to Visit
Peak season for tourists on the Pacific coast is also dry season, which runs from about November through April and is when Nekupe sees the most visitors. Low and rainy season runs from May through October on the Pacific coast and is a shoulder season for Nekupe. It can be a bit more chilly and muddy during rainy season at Nekupe.
The international airport, Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport, is located in the capital city of Managua and is less than two hours from this hotel. The resort does offer the option of helicopter transportation from Managua to the resort, as well as a shuttle.
The resort is situated on 1,800 acres of jungle and trees. There are dirt and rock trails up and down hills and around sharp turns to reach most areas of the resort. The ATV provided with each room is the only mode of transportation capable of getting guests around the resort. The six-seater ATVs (which may be the highlight of the entire resort for the kids) are safe and have seatbelts, but the ride can be bumpy and dirty at times.
For Mom and Dad
A beautiful spa situated among the trees of the jungle offers massages, facials and a variety of other spa treatments to guests.
Two complimentary yoga classes take place each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Meditate and practice your stretches while overlooking the jungle and volcanos of Nicaragua.