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Cradled in the mountains of central Nicaragua is the sustainable coffee plantation, Selva Negra — and here “sustainable” is the key word. At more than 3,000 feet (914 meters), everything needed to run this little kingdom—from the food on the tables in the lakeside restaurant to the electricity in the quaint, half-timbered cabins—is produced at Selva Negra.

The Hotel Selva Negra has been in operation for 20 years. Eddy and Mausi Kühl, fourth generation descendants of the original German settlers who established the coffee industry in Nicaragua, oversee both the hotel and farm. A little taste of Germany can be found at Selva Negra when, each year, the hotel celebrates its Germanic heritage with Oktoberfest, complete with draft beer, clowns, and of course, German music and food. The owners also hold a traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday.

The plantation produces a high grade of Arabica coffee produced in an “ecologically correct” manner. By employing ecologically sound processing methods the streams have remained crystal clear and the forest intact.

The Kühls have created a prosperous coffee industry while preserving the natural integrity of the highland forests. Protecting the environment is a main concern. They employ forest rangers to protect the flora and fauna of the area. Selva Negra has a school for the children of its workers; a water powered generator for making electricity and a dairy farm. They are able to provide everything for their family, tourists, and the 600 people who live and work on their land.

Located in the highlands of central Nicaragua, the hills of Selva Negra are draped in green year-round. Fourteen trails, six of which are designed for horses, make this beautiful and pristine cloud forest easy to explore. It is possible to spend hours wandering the trails, marveling at the twisted strangler fig, pausing to locate a singing bird, or stopping to admire the beauty of a blood red flower against the deep green forest foliage. Some of the higher trails offer an impressive view of the rich green valley below.

Howler monkeys, deer, sloth, quail and guatusas all make this remarkable forest their home. Toucans, hummingbirds, and gold finches make the area a bird lover’s paradise—the luckiest birdwatchers may even add a quetzal to their list. The forest is also home to an astonishing variety of flora. A visiting botanist identified more than 85 orchids. Selva Negra, in the heart of Nicaragua, is a place where the wonders of nature are just waiting to be enjoyed and appreciated. It is a place that will stay in your memory long after you have said “Auf Wiedersehen.”

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