About the property
- Farmhouse2000 sq. ft.
- Half Baths2
- Minimum Stay7 nights
Makengue is a 190-acre rain-forest reserve rented as 1 unit for up to 17 people.
Makengue is a 190-acre private jungle reserve, rented only as a single unit. It is located in the Nicaraguan rainforest along the Pocosolito River that feeds into the San Juan River in Southern Nicaragua. Along the border with Costa Rica and only accessible by boat, the reserve is teeming with wildlife. The Makengue house offers spectacular views of the Pocosolito river and wildlife.
This tropical hideaway has no neighbors, just the beautiful, buzzing life of the rainforest, sparkling stars, and wondrous sounds. The birds, turtles, crocodiles, and lizards live in the river, monkeys feast on sugary vines, and the love-bird parrot couple rests on the highest branches across the river each evening.
Accommodations are rustic, but very comfortable. The main house has a large high-ceilinged living room, dining room, kitchen, potable running water, and electricity (solar panels). There are 4 bedrooms, each with an adjoining bathroom with flush toilets and showers. In three of the rooms there are bunk beds for 2 to 4 persons and the private master bedroom has a double bed with a balcony. In addition, there are two cabins along the river with a double bed in each one. Situated in back of the main house is a walkway that leads to the eco-stove equipped kitchen. Behind that is the caretaker’s cottage.
The garden has hedges of pink and orange hibiscus along walkways lined with solar lights. Six acres are planted with bananas, papaya, sugar cane, coconut trees, passion fruit, cinnamon, pineapple, taro root, corn, and small fields of rice. This is the only area where trees had previously been cut down; the rest of the property boasts virgin forest with lush green trees, plants, and flowers.
Three delicious, homemade meals daily are included in the price which consist of traditional Central American cuisine and include homemade cheese, yucca, tortillas, fish, chicken, a wide variety of tropical fruit and vegetables and other local foods. Vegetarian meals are available upon request.
- Response rate:
- Response time:
- within a few days
- English, Spanish
- Calendar last updated:
- Feb 10, 2017
About Becki Cohn-Vargas
We are Rito Vargas and Becki Cohn-Vargas, owners of this private reserve since 2006. Rito is Nicaraguan and worked as a videographer for the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education in the 80’s. He recently retired after being Chief Camera for Univision in San Francisco for 25 years. Becki is from the U.S. and met Rito, when they worked together producing Educational Television Programs in Nicaragua. They have 3 grown children. With a doctorate in Education, Becki was a teacher, principal, and superintendent in California public schools for the last 25 years. Currently, she leads a bullying and intolerance prevention program at Not In Our Town, a non-profit.
Becki Cohn-Vargas purchased this Farmhouse in 2006
Why Becki Cohn-Vargas chose Rio San Juan
Becki says “We bought this beautiful property because we love Nicaragua and are strongly committed to preserving its wild places. For us, Makengue represents an opportunity to contribute to rainforest and environmental preservation and sustainability. We also want to share this beauty with others as part of the growing eco-tourism movement. We are starting to bring small groups of college students from the US to do research and community service with locals. That would not happen while you are there, of course.”
What makes this Farmhouse unique
We fell in love with Makengue's wildlife. Right from the porch you can monkeys, crocodiles, toucans, parrots, and a host of birds, little frogs, and turtles. At night the stars are unbelievably bright and the sounds of the jungle are indescribable. Environmental organizations in the area and local residents have donated endangered animals to Makengue for release, safe from hunters. We have had and released an ocelot, two pregnant iguanas, a paca, and a black bellied whistling duck. Currently, we have a fawn and are about to release it. Although it is remote and quiet, you can easily reach a cute town of El Castillo by boat. There you can see a ruined stone fortress of El Castillo with an amazing view of the river. There are also restaurants and a cafe with good coffee. Nicaragua and all of Central America are considered a ”biodiversity hotspot,” a biogeographic region that is both a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is threatened with destruction. The term biodiversity hotspot specifically refers to 25 biologically rich areas around the world that have lost at least 70 percent of their original habitat. The remaining natural habitat in these areas amounts to just 1.4% of the land surface of the planet, yet supports nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. Makengue has an important role to play in preserving the rainforest and now, so can you!
Sports & Adventure Activities
100% refund if canceled at least 30 days before arrival date. 50% refund if canceled at least 14 days before arrival date. You must contact the owner directly to request cancellation.
Nature-lover's paradise off the beaten path!
Beautiful 190 acre property of virgin rain forest complete with a main lodge, several small independently standing cabanas, a swimming pool, and large wooden bridge complete with hammocks for relaxing. A quiet location perfect for early morning bird watching, forest hikes for wildlife spotting (such as strawberry frogs, leaf cutter ants, and more), and relaxing in the lodge or patio spaces. Great for adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and wildlife experts. The location is a short boat ride from the municipalities of Sabalos and El Castillo.
A special place!
I stayed here for a week in the rainy season and enjoyed being deep in the rain forest. The description and photos accurately show the large, rustic, lodge with its lovely, deep porch and the beautiful surrounding preserve - truly far, far away from "civilization." If you love nature and adventure travel, as I do, you will love the boat ride to get here on the San Juan River, the views and sounds of birds, frog, and monkeys, and the opportunity to explore a true rain forest without any other tourists around! The owners are very helpful (this is a labor of love for them), and the caretaker is knowledgeable and skilled. My week there was a truly memorable experience!
Off the beaten path
The Makengue lodge is truly located off the beaten path, nestled amid a virgin rainforest. If you want to disconnect from the real world, there is no better place to go! Nicaragua is a hidden gem with so much to see and do. Traveling to Makengue is fairly easy via a bus from Managua and then a boat ride from San Carlos. The San Juan River is known for its fishing. Small towns dot the river along the way. Sabalos and El Castillo are a short boat ride away from Makengue. I personally love El Castillo and the old fort located there.
There is lots to do in Makengue whether hiking through the trails on the property, bird-watching early in the morning, sunbathing by the river, or just kicking back on a hammock. The food was delicious and the staff very attendant. I slept in one of the cabins by the river and was lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the forest. The accommodations were comfortable and clean. All in all, it was a wonderful stay and hope to return again in the future.
An unforgettable adventure in the Nicaraguan rainforest
One of the greatest weeks I have had!
I was lucky and joined a research group from my university in march 2014. The accomodations are very nice and make you feel like an adventurer. A beautiful wooden house with multiple rooms and bathrooms in the middle of the rainforest. In the morning you can observe beautiful tropical birds and hear the howler monkeys across the river in the tree tops. Hiking around the reserve is an unforgettable experience. Reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds call this rainforest their home. Even better are the night hikes. In total darkness a completely different set of animals appears in the dark. I can only recommend this place and I will come back the next time I have the chance to.
My university trip to Makengue (March 2013)
I had the good fortune of visiting Makengue in March of 2013 with my university group, and it was an unforgettable experience! The property is breath-taking and allows for a fun combination of relaxation and adventure. We spent many hours relaxing on the beautiful porch where we could see and hear countless rainforest animals, including birds, bats, frogs, lizards, monkeys, alligators, and more. Hiking around the property was also a fun experience, as you do not often get to experience natural habitats that are as pristine as Makengue. In our free time, we went swimming in the river, drank lots of coffee, went out on the boat at night to look at the stars and the alligators, and played a lot of pool. Visiting nearby towns like El Castillo allowed for exciting excursions. The people are incredibly friendly, even if you do not speak much Spanish, and the food is delicious!
Thanks for the great message. Hope you will come again!
Without leaving the property, and often from the porch, you can see many endangered species: howler, white faced, and spider monkeys, crocodiles, toucans, parrots, and a rainbow of orchids and butterflies. The rainforests of the region feature over 600 species of birds, along with more than 300 species of reptiles and 200 species of mammals. Environmental organizations in the area and local residents have donated endangered animals to Makengue for release, safe from hunters. The region is spectacular. The San Juan River connects Lake Nicaragua, the only place in the world with fresh-water sharks, with the Caribbean Sea. During the Gold Rush, the San Juan River and the lake were used as a route from New York to San Francisco, coveted by powerful countries, attacked by pirates, and defended by heroes. San Carlos, located on the shore of the lake at the birthplace of the river, is the largest town in the region with 8,000 inhabitants. 55 km / 34 miles east on the San Juan River is a region with 5,000 residents in 27 villages surrounding two small towns. The largest town, Boca de Sabalos is the regional hub. El Castillo is a picturesque town, that is only accessible by water with its old colonial fortress built in 1675. Makengue is located between these two towns. The average temperature is about 25°C / 75°F. Six miles east of El Castillo, along the San Juan River is the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, bordering the San Juan River. Considered the lungs of Central America, Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve (3,180 km²), is the biggest expanse of lowland rainforest north of the Amazon basin. Indio-Maíz has been described by UCLA biologists as “the gem of Central American nature reserves.” 25 minutes by boat in either direction you can get to two towns that have restaurants and fresh produce, pharmacies, medical clinics. There are also tourist attractions including ruins of a fortress, a museum, a cafe with good coffee and churches.
Rates & Availability
Additional information about rental rates
Rates apply to 1-5 people (including adults or children). For more than 5 people, additional adults and/or children pay $40 per night.