Makengue: in the Nicaraguan Rain Forest



In the context of safety, inclusion, and acceptance,  I want to share everything about my life and my work. Our Makengue project is about protecting the environment, connecting with Nicaraguans on the San Juan River, and spreading the amazing wildlife of the rain forest.

Makengue is a private preserve in the rain forest along the San Juan River near the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica. Each day starts with early roars of howler monkeys and ends with brilliant sunsets with flocks of birds heading to trees for the night.

Makengue began as a dream and continues to evolve. With 190 acres of rain forest, Makengue is off the grid and has no neighbors, just the buzzing life of the rain forest, sunshine, downpours, and the sparkling stars. The birds, turtles, crocodiles, and lizards skim the water of the river, the monkeys feast on sugary vines,and the love-bird parrot couple rests on highest branches across the river each evening. Our purpose is to preserve Makengue and all the wildlife that lives in the 190 acres of forest.

As stewards of of Makengue, our plan is to spread the love of preservation with others across Nicaragua and beyond, as a beacon for the world – a voice for preservation, connection with the earth, and the rain forest – reversing the trend of climate change- and nothing short of saving this planet.

We are Rito Vargas and Becki Cohn-Vargas Ed.D., owners of this private reserve, reaching out to college students to help define the best way to carry out this mission. Is it through research? If so, what kind? Making films for young people? We are proposing a bold idea: to invite college students to help us discover the most powerful legacy for Makengue.

We built our home out of downed trees and have solar panels for light. We planted rice, bananas, coconut trees, pineapple, and other delicious fruit.

Makengue Video:

Makengue Website:

Makengue Project on Facebook:

More About Makengue From our Vacation Rental by Owner Website

Makengue description


Makengue is a 190-acre private jungle reserve that 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.

Year Purchased: 2006

About the owner: 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.

Why the Owner Chose El Castillo: 
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.”

The Unique Benefits at this Farmhouse: 
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!


One thought on “Makengue: in the Nicaraguan Rain Forest

  1. Norlan R Guerrero

    Aunt need your help to update my Window don’t understand privacy on the internet since Microsoft making it hard for me to do my updates on m y mother computer if I don’t see you on facebook because got over months trying to update my files need your help may be Microsoft free laptop on your student since they having hard time updating my file thank you talk to you later… Norlan Guerrerero

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