Top Five Things To Do in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Are you planning a trip to Nicaragua’s mountainous north? Awesome! You will be rewarded with cooler temps, green jungle, brilliant coffee and friendly locals. I’ve visited Matagalpa twice now, each time for about a week and both visits have been great. Make your time in the north memorable with our top five favorite things to do in and around Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

things to do in matagalpa nicaragua hiking

Here is the view of Matagalpa from Cerro Apante.

1. Finca Esperanza Verde


The view from the lounge at Finca Esperanza Verde.

If you’ve done any research about Matagalpa you’ve probably heard of Finca Esperanza Verde. Finca Esperanza Verde is a beautiful organic coffee farm set high on a hill with some of Nicaragua’s most breathtaking sunsets. Vivianne and her team of local staff are gracious hosts and will happily guide you on one of the many well-maintained hiking trails that criss-cross the property. The guides are excellent and will help you spot parrots, birds, monkeys, sloths, etc that you would miss on your own. It’s possible to enjoy the property  for the day or better yet stay a couple of days to take full advantage of the miles of trails, delicious organic food, and the cool crisp morning air (you’ll crave it after a week or two on the coast.) Book one of the Colibri Cabins for the best views.

You may be lucky enough to join a workshop or yoga retreat at Finca Esperanza Verde. The yoga experience at Finca Esperanza Verde is absolutely unique. During practice you may see toucans fly by or spot a sloth up high in the treetops.

The Finca offers guided hikes, organic coffee and meals, coffee tours, birdwatching tours, yoga and more.

2. Castillo del Cacao in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

chocolate in matagalpa nicaragua

My heaven!!!

If you’re a chocolate lover then a visit to Castillo del Cacao is a must (when I checked last they were closed on Saturdays). It’s possible to tour the facilities before stocking up on the best chocolate in Nicaragua. Their coffee chocolate bar with whole roasted espresso beans is seriously divine and is nothing like anything Hershey’s makes.

Castillo del Cacao is located just outside of Matagalpa on the way to Finca Esperanza Verde.

3. Mujeres del Plomo in San Ramon

nicaragua yoga retreats april 2018

Happy group after our jewelry making workshop with the women of Artesanias Mujeres del Plomo.

Looking for a fun workshop to do with kids or your girlfriends (my husband actually loved the jewelry making workshop too)? Mujeres del Plomo is a local women’s jewelry cooperative in San Ramon, Nicaragua. The group consists of about 4 women and their children. The ladies create jewelry out of seeds collected in the local countryside. You can stop in and buy a piece of jewelry or for $5-10 join for a short jewelry making workshop. Gain inspiration from the pieces they’ve already created and then create your own. The ladies are excellent teachers and will guide you along the way. Check out the pieces our group made!

4. Hike to Las Cruces and Cerro Apante

things to do in Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Virgin Mary statue.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to be still for too long. I recommend hiking up the trail to Las Cruces. The loop trail was moderately challenging and well maintained. You can park your car in Matagalpa and then begin up the hill. You will come to a “ranger station” of sorts. Pay your entrance fee here and continue up the path. You will come to an awesome viewpoint overlooking the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Shortly after the viewpoint you will climb the stairs up to the statue overlooking the city for another view. There may be a couple of musicians playing up top and there will most certainly be couples and families enjoying this popular outing. Here is a funny little blog post about a couple that went the “wrong way” up to Las Cruces… don’t do what they did.

5. Visit Cascada Santa Emilia just outside of Matagalpa, Nicaragua

what to do in matagalpa nicaragua

Steve happily checking out the waterfall… and perhaps debating a swim.

If you have a car take the gorgeous drive out to Cascada Santa Emilia, also known as Cascada Blanca. Pay the small fee and begin the hike down the paved path. There is a large cave behind the waterfall. I recommend following the path behind the thundering waterfall and looking out at the river below. I believe you can grab lunch here as well. We ate in town and we weren’t hungry, so I can’t say if the food is good or not.

Enjoy your time in Matagalpa! And as always feel free to reach out if you have specific questions. I’m happy to lend a hand… and if I don’t know the answer I can link you up with someone who does.

Love and Light,


The Easiest Travel to Bergerac, France

travel from uk to bergerac

Situated in South-West France, Bergerac is located between Bordeaux and Toulouse in the Dordogne Purple region which makes it the perfect central location from which to explore the ‘Pays de Bergerac’.  The region is rich in vineyards and fortified ‘bastide’ towns, an extraordinary range of natural and historical heritage sites; fabulous, protected countryside; the beauty of the Dordogne River; the renowned gastronomy and wines of Bordeaux and Bergerac; a rich cultural life and numerous leisure and sporting activities.

Traveling to Bergerac for a holiday? Not sure whether you should take a plane or train? Here are the easiest travel options to Bergerac. Hope you enjoy your French holiday or yoga retreat.


Easiest Travel From the United Kingdom to Bergerac

Fly to Bergerac

FLY! Cheap flights from the United Kingdom to Bergerac abound. Ryan Air is available for those who fly from Bristol, Liverpool, London Stansted, East Midlands, and Brussels-Charleroi. Flybe flies from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Southampton, and Leeds Bradford to Bergerac.

Fly to Bordeaux (1-1.5 hrs from Bergerac by train or car)

British Airways flies to Bordeaux from London Gatwick and BMI Baby flies from Manchester, East Midlands and Nottingham. From Bordeaux you will take the train or taxi to Bergerac.

Easiest Travel to Bergerac From The UK By Rail

Travel time from Waterloo International (London) to Paris Gare du Nord is 3 hours. Then at Gare Montparnasse in Paris take a train direction Bordeaux, change at Libourne where you can rent a car and you will arrive in Bergerac within another 4 hours. Or from Waterloo Station in London you can change at Lille for Libourne.

Easiest Travel to Bergerac from the UK By Channel Tunnel

You can take the Eurotunnel train from Ashford (near Dover) to Calais and then drive down some 700 miles either in a day or taking a more leisurely pace over a few days.

Easiest Travel to Bergerac from the UK By Ferry

The time it takes to drive from the UK depends very much on which ferry crossing one takes (Caen is the nearest) and how leisurely one’s approach is to touring through France. It is possible to easily drive down in one day – some 300 to 450 miles of motorways.


Easiest Travel From Amsterdam to Bergerac

Transavia has flights to Bergerac for those who fly from Amsterdam-Schiphol.


Easiest Travel From Paris to Bergerac

Take the train from Paris Montparnasse toward Bordeaux and change at Libourne (approx. 3.5 hours) From Libourne you’ll take another train to Bergerac, which is about another hour more. The total trip time takes about 5 hours.


Easiest Travel From the United States to Bergerac

From the United States I recommend flying into Bordeaux (easiest) or Paris. From Bordeaux you can take a taxi or train to Bergerac. If you’re flying in to Paris I recommend staying overnight in the city to catch up on sleep, eat great food and be on the first train to Bergerac in the morning to arrive by noon.

There are tons of flights from the USA to France. Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, NYC, LAX, Miami, Boston, and Washington, DC all offer affordable flights to Paris and sometimes even Bordeaux. Another option is to take one of the LAX/NYC flights to Nice and then a train or flight to Bergerac or Bordeaux. Pro Tip: Start looking for your flight early and consider flying from a hub.

Hire cars are available in Bordeaux and Bergerac either at the station or airport.

12 Secrets to Book Cheaper Airline Tickets

How to find the cheapest flights

How to find the cheapest flights for your yoga retreat

Whether you’re headed across the country or to a different continent you want to book cheaper airline tickets. No one wants to pay full price. There are plenty of airline ticket deals out there if you know how/where to find them.

This past year alone I have gotten some ridiculously cheap tickets from the west coast of North America; for example: Nicaragua  ($450), Thailand ($440), Bali ($460), Paris ($587/$408)… all from the West Coast! Awesome cheap tickets are out there; you just have to know where to find them.

Here are my favorite tips for finding the cheapest airline tickets.

1. and

Travel Pirates rocks my world… in fact I have to make sure that I don’t go to their website too often because every time I do I see awesome airfares to places I want to go. I now limit myself to visiting only once or twice a week. posts airfare deals all over the world… some fares are error fares, some are sales, and all are at great prices. Also, they use kayak as their search engine, so it’s easy to use.

2. Flexible Date Search

ALWAYS use Kayak’s flexible date search (if possible +/- 3 days). It can save you hundreds of dollars on a flight. I don’t think I need to explain this one any further.

3. Travel Hubs

What are the travel hubs near you? Are they within driving distance? Or a short flight with a domestic carrier? I live in Bend, Oregon… the nearest international airport is Portland, which is a 3+ hour drive away. Portland sometimes has cheap flights, but I can usually save hundreds of dollars by commuting to Seattle or Vancouver, BC. The airports are busier, more flights, means more options and more competition. Look into hubs near you.

4. Check Regularly & Book When The Price Is Right

Do some research, check out Hopper, and find out what the best fare is. Know your buy price and when you see it, book it. Don’t wait. Also, check multiple search engines.

5. Flexible dates

You can find great deals flying most days of the week… although from experience Friday and Sunday are typically the most expensive… if you have any flexibility in your schedule take advantage of it and book an extra couple of days on your vacation. It will be totally worth it. You’ll have extra time to see the sights and get over any jetlag.

6. has some decent tools for finding cheap flights when you don’t care too much about the destination… perhaps book a cheap flight to a destination and then look for a yoga retreat? This would only work in a place like Bali or Costa Rica where there are tons of yoga retreats.

7. Hopper App

Hopper app is a new to me app and I love it. You search your flight route and it will tell you whether it’s a good price or not, by color coding the airfares. It also shows up on a calendar, so you can see when flights are typically cheaper. And for more popular routes it shows the airfare history.

8. Consolidator Fares

I’m a little hesitant to recommend consolidator fares, but I’ve had decent luck with them even though the booking process can be a bit “sketchy” seeming. I’ve used ASAP travel and had both success and frustration. If you book a consolidator fare it’s likely non-refundable. Also, don’t consider your flight booked until you have a confirmation number from the airline.

9. Book 6+ weeks out

Start looking for flights as soon as you see a retreat you’re interested in, watch the fares. Once you start creeping past the 6 week mark the fares will start creeping up in price.

10. Skyscanner

Skyscanner is useful for finding out which airlines fly into specific airports. Go directly to the airline’s site and check out their fares.

11. Hacker fares


Book your ticket to paradise… whether it’s the French countryside or the tropics.

Hacker fares are multiple one way tickets. They also may be open jaw tickets. Kayak now has an option to book hacker fares.

Here is an example flight that I paid $440 USD for:

Vancouver, BC to Denpasar Bali

Lombok to Vancouver, BC

The one-way flight to Lombok is less than $50 USD…. and if you were interested in getting to Lombok super cheap there are also ferries to Lombok from Bali.

12. Mileage cards

Get a mileage card with a good rate and no annual fee (or at least a very low annual fee) then put all of your bills, rent, groceries, travel expenses on it. Also make sure to stay up to date on their mileage plan, so your points don’t expire.

That’s what I’ve got for you today yogis. I hope this blog hopes you book cheaper airline tickets to your next destination. I would love to hear how it goes!

Chateau de Bardouly: Luxury Chateau Offering Yoga Retreats

I look forward to visiting France in May and exploring the Dordogne region from our Chateau de Bardouly yoga retreat. Chateau de Bardouly is a meticulously maintained 17th century manor house located between Bordeaux and Toulouse in the Dordogne Purple region of southwest France.

luxury-yoga-retreat-france-may 2017-chateau-drawing-room

Chateau de Bardouly- France’s Best Kept Secret

France’s best kept secret, the Dordogne Purple region, is renowned for it’s gastronomy and wine. In addition to enough fine wine and food to delight any oenofile or foodie the region bursts with local heritage sites. You will find vineyards, fields of flowers, orchards, fortified “bastide” towns and medieval castles. The region is easily accessed via train or plane from Paris, London, or Nice.


Historical Luxury Chateau Draws Guests Seeking Charm and Authenticity

Back to Chateau de Bardouly… this 400 year old chateau draws visitors seeking a luxury experience that brims with charm and authenticity. Past visitors have included John D. Rockefeller and Charles de Gaulle amongst other illustrious guests. Visitors return annually to enjoy the meticulously kept chateau and grounds.


An Estate You’ll Swoon For

This Perigordian chateau has 9 unique en suite bedrooms that blend modern amenities with beautiful antiques (swoon) and luxurious fabrics. The property has multiple spaces to dine and lounge including formal and informal dining spaces, living rooms and terraces. The paneled formal dining room was installed by the same artisan that did the state rooms at Versailles!

Stay at Chateau de Bardouly for a Yoga Retreat

Two yoga spaces are available for yoga retreat guests… one outdoor platform and a cozy indoor room for cooler days. The chateau has every yoga prop you could desire! But if you’re staying at the chateau you won’t be practicing yoga the whole day and there is plenty to keep you occupied.


Grounds For Exploration and Play

The chateau grounds are ripe for exploration with nearly 100 acres of land that includes forested hills, a nearby lake within walking distance, orchards of plums, cherries, apples, pears and walnuts, a heated pool and tennis court. The spacious lawn is perfect for a little friendly competition. The chateau has badminton, croquet, boules, football or cricket equipment available.


Time and Space to Relax and Unwind

Or spend an afternoon relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine in the chateau’s exquisite rock garden complete with it’s own water fountain or relax on the lime tree shaded terrace; a perfect place to swap stories with a new friend over tea. Or if you’re a sun worshipper like me grab a poolside lounge chair and soak up the afternoon rays.


Looking for a spring getaway? Join Toni and Acevedo and I in France this May for a life changing yoga retreat built on the foundation of self love.

Happy Birthday Oregon and A Special Gift for our France Yoga Retreat

The founders of Ambuja Yoga & Barefoot BLISS Yoga are both Oregonians. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, these ladies love playing in their home state and around the world!
Autumn & Toni embrace the sense of adventure. Yoga, hiking, biking, snow shoeing and more, they love nature, travel, food & their dogs!
These adventuress Yoga Instructors are your perfect guides for your next Yoga Retreat.
Their next retreat is in beautiful Southwest France. From May 20th-27th 2017
Because the ladies are from Oregon and Oregon’s birthday is February 14th, turning 158 years old. Happy Birthday OREGON! They decided to give you a special gift in honor of their beautiful state!
For the month of February you can receive $400 off the full price of this France Yoga Retreat!
And now some cool stuff about the number 158
In numerology number 158 is pretty AWESOME! Who knew?
Blending attributes and energies and vibrations you get some pretty powerful stuff going on.
Things like creativity, initiative, new beginnings, self-reliance and tenacity just to name a few.
Making positive life choices, abundance and inner-wisdom!
I told you it was cool! So if you’ve been feeling a stirring within and something has you moving in new and exciting directions it might be because our beautiful Oregon is turning 158 years old!
Toni ~ The Blissful Blogger, Founder of Barefoot BLISS Yoga
Autumn Adams, Founder of Ambuja Yoga