La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

La Mariposa Group Study Centre in Nicaragua

View of Masaya Volcano

Situated on a ridge overlooking the Masaya volcano and Lake Managua, La Mariposa Introduction video the Mariposa Study Centre is part of the community of San Caralampyo (one of the more rural barrios in La Concha). As with the original Mariposa Spanish School (just down the hill) our primary goal is to provide as much local employment as possible - the Mariposa as a whole is now the largest employer in La Concha apart from the public services. We also aim to support the community through our community and environmental projects. We are engaged in many of the local activities. Two examples in this barrio are helping to rebuild the community centre which was semi-destroyed in a storm and working with local people to set up a bakery to provide more local employment. As with the Mariposa Spanish School, we undertake a whole range of projects suited to local needs. And as with the Mariposa Spanish School, ALL of our income from our groups and students is invested in the local community (see Prices page for more details) through employment and the projects.

In the Study centre your group will have a unique firsthand eco and community experience!
  • Be part of the barrio of San Caralampyo. Meet the community leaders, walk through pineapple fields and groves of orange trees, visit local schools, health centers, places of worship…even the police station and learn about education, health, rural issues…..hang out and have fun with local teenagers and children

  • Sleep in our dormitory built from volcanic rock and bamboo, on locally made bunk beds made from sustainable wood and recycled tyres (super comfortable!) or maximize your experience in the community (and your Spanish!) by opting for a homestay with a local family

  • Eat on tables made from fallen trees and take classes in rooms built with straw and recycled tyres, where both the power and hot water (for your showers) are provided by solar panels…learn the challenges of eco living first hand!

  • Enjoy meals and juices prepared on site from fresh organic food, much of the veg and fruit from our own organic farm and eggs from our free range chickens, the rest bought from local fincas and markets. We eat very little meat (no red meat).

  • Live with some of our rescued dogs and ride on our rescued horses who live close to the Study Centre

  • Relax in a locally woven hammock, enjoying the stunning location with great views over a live volcano and the lakes of Nicaragua

local produce Some of the local produce for you to sample - passion fruit, star fruit, avocado, white and purple eggplant, bread fruit, salad leaves and arugula and dragon fruit

La Mariposa Study Centre offers service and educational trips to groups of high school/college/university students - we offer programs individually designed with and for your group to reflect your specific learning needs and your plans for rest and relaxation! Or even if you are just looking for the place to hold your retreat…..

You can incorporate all (or some) of the following into your program -

  • Volunteer and community service work in a local school, in the community centre, help with reforestation and preservation of wildlife, work on our organic farm, or help teenagers improve their English (see below and the Volunteer page for more detail on the options available)

  • Excellent Spanish classes (one on one or small group) with the trained and experienced teachers of the Mariposa Spanish School (see Spanish school page for more detail)

  • Classes in history and politics, to understand better Nicaragua's position in the global economic system

  • Discussions of problems and possible solutions in meetings with local community leaders, the Mayor of La Concha, the head of police, the local health system and education

  • Presentations and classes of local folkloric dance and music

  • Visit to a naturalista for a lesson on medicinal plants

  • See wonderful examples of pre Columbian art some of which were discovered whilst digging the foundations of the study centre!

  • Visits to places of interest and beauty which are within an hour of the Mariposa such as Granada, Masaya, the Masaya Volcano and National Park, El Chocoyero Nature Reserve, Mombacho Volcano, the Laguna de Apoyo

  • We can also arrange special tours further afield

ancient pottery One of the amazing pieces found on the Study Centre land

Our goals are to promote learning in the Spanish language, increase awareness of Nicaragua´s history, politics and culture whilst ensuring a fun and enjoyable time. We offer education in environmental matters and community development utilizing a range of teaching resources available to us both within the Mariposa and further afield in the surrounding community. A very positive outcome is the interchange which takes place between students and their Nicaraguan hosts.


The study centre, built in 2012, is itself an excellent example of eco building and in working closely with the surrounding community, the barrio of San Caralampyo and of course it is also allowing us to further the central goal of the Mariposa in providing more local employment.
  • The building is built in as environmentally friendly a way as is possible to be. The main eating and meeting area is constructed out of straw, left over once the rice has been harvested. The head builder, an expert in straw building, has designed the room with some lovely arched windows and French doors which overlook the stunning views of the enormous Panama tree on one side and the Masaya volcano on the other. For the dormitory accommodation (sleeps 16) we used volcanic rock, bamboo and caniza. The roof is designed to encourage the natural seeding of plants to create a green roof. Classrooms, built along the terrace, are of similar construction but also use recycled tyres in the retaining walls. There is also a small house, separate from the dormitories, which has three rooms - perfect for group escorts who are looking for a little peace and quiet at the end of the day.

  • All electric power is solar produced and there is also solar heated water for the two showers. We have installed latrines as they are an incredibly effective and non wasteful method (no water is used as in flushing toilets) of disposing of solid waste.

  • The centre is situated on a small piece of land. We have already reforested about ¾ of the land, planting about 2000 trees of different varieties. Some, like the Guanacaste and ceiba, are to replace some of the trees growing here before that would have been a natural part of the Pacific forest but have been cut down. Others, like the chilomate and the marango, also native varieties, have been chosen as they provide a great food supply to local bird and wildlife.

classrooms at the study centre
Classrooms constructed from palm thatch, volcanic rock, rice straw bales and (inside) recycled tyres
entrance at the study centre The entrance to the beautiful straw built dining and meeting area.


We are very lucky as San Caralampyo has a very active community organization and so right from the beginning we have been able to work with local community leaders in setting up Homestays for students staying at the centre and in deciding priorities for our project work. One of the central principles of the Mariposa is to reinvest the money we make into the local community. You can rest assured that not one dollar that you spend at the Mariposa leaves Nicaragua, most of it in fact is spent in the local community on wages and buying local goods. Right across the track from the study centre is the community centre building. This has already been rebuilt (it was partly destroyed in a storm) with volunteer help, funded by the Mariposa, and will house a number of different community projects - from English and folklore dance classes to a bakery. Students who wish to volunteer with us will have the same options as listed on the volunteer page PLUS those opportunities in the community centre.

Examples of possible placements for service work include (but see the Volunteers page for more detail)
  • working with our rescued animals and helping to preserve wildlife ( especially the dogs and horses)

  • working on one of our organic farms or helping a community establish their own organic vegetable plots

  • using environmentally sound materials in a small construction project

  • working on one of our reading schemes and libraries or with the pre-school day care project.

  • in the wet season, helping to reforest and plant trees
You can also do Homestays with families in the barrio (see the Accommodations page for more detail on Homestays).

the Santiago Reading project
Helping children to read at the Santiago Reading project
renovating the community centre Enjoying the work renovating the community centre


  • Spanish classes are of course available. Students can take Spanish classes in groups arranged according to the level of Spanish of each student (we work with six levels of grammar from absolute beginner to advanced).The organization is the same as in the Mariposa Spanish school so see the Spanish classes page for details.

  • We can offer a range of different alternatives from history classes to exploring environmental issues in Nicaragua. Each group's program is individually tailored so we work out the detailed program in consultation with you or your group leader. Below are some examples of programs

These classes are arranged by Dr. Paulette Goudge, the Director of the Mariposa Spanish School and Study Centre, and the team of Mariposa interns. Dr. Goudge has a Doctorate in Development Studies and has been involved with Nicaragua since 1987, moving permanently in 2005. We utilize the breadth of experience and knowledge available in our own staff group as well as bringing in experts from outside when required.

group Spanish class
Group Spanish class (you can have one on one) in the Mariposa Study Centre

group study area

group study dorm
group dining area

Community Service/Spanish Classes Program (example)

Day 1 - Arrival at the Mariposa Study Centre and settle in

Day 2 - Introduction to the Mariposa Study Centre (eco building and reforestation), visit the Mariposa organic farm, visit some of the Mariposa community projects (the primary school projects, the community gardens, the community centre).

Day 3 - AM lecture, film and discussion on history and current day situation in Nicaragua. PM trip to the Laguna de Apoyo (crater lake, good for swimming)

Day 4 to Day 9 -AM Volunteer work (on any of our community projects), PM Spanish classes

Day 10 - Visit to the Masaya Volcano (live volcano)

Day 11 - Visit to a coffee plantation and help with the harvest (Nov till Jan only)

Day 12 - Depart

Evening Prog - film and discussion on food production in Nicaragua, film and discussion on migration, cultural evening (music and dance)

Education on Sustainability and Community Program/Spanish Classes (example)

Day 1 - Arrival at the Mariposa Study Centre and settle in

Days 2 to 12 (except Sundays) - AM Spanish classes from 8.00am to 12.00pm with 20 minute break

Afternoon Program

Day 2 - Overview of the history of Nicaragua and current situation

Day 3 - Visit to Managua, meet with banana workers affected by Nemagon, discussion with them of their history

Day 4 (Sunday) - Day trip to the Laguna de Apoyo (swimming, relaxing, lunch there)

Day 5 - Walk through the local community of La Concha - discussion of religion, culture and local issues such as education and water supply

Day 6 - Introduction to the political situation in Nicaragua, discussion with the Mayor of La Concha

Day 7 - Traditional dance and music - presentation and class in folkloric dancing

Day 8 - Visit the Pueblos Blancos (including the birthplace of Sandino, wooden and bamboo furniture making workshops etc) history and culture

Day 9 - Visit the Mariposa projects to see local problems and solutions (the primary school projects, the community gardens, the community centre, reforestation projects and water projects)

Day 10 - Visit to Masaya, discussion of history and culture (museum, artisan workers, also shopping opportunities)

Day 11 - Visit to Dona Aura, a local natural healer to see her garden and discuss her healing methods

Day 12 - Hike through local countryside, reflect on rural issues

Day 13 - Departure

Evening Program

Can include films, discussions and reflection sessions to consolidate the day's learning.

history class with Paulette
History Class in the study centre
And, of course having fun! It is easy to have game of football in the streets of San Caralampyo with the local kids but we can also schedule organized trips to place of interest and beauty such as the Laguna de Apoyo, Granada, Leon, Masaya, the Pacific beaches…..and more
street football/soccer
swimmming at Laguna de Apoyo

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