In May of 2012, I was able to cross another item off the bucket list – a visit to a tobacco-growing country. Although there is obviously more than one, personally, Nicaragua is at the top of THE list. I was very fortunate to receive an invite from the Drew Estate ‘The Rebirth Of The Cigars’ company to join the famous Cigar Safari trip. I have heard nothing but positive feedback from fellow brothers of the leaf so the Drew Estate didn’t have to wait too long for my acceptance.


Few other fellow cigar enthusiasts have joined the same Cigar Safari trip so I encourage that you visit their websites or magazine, respectively.

- Casas Fumando
- Cigar Brief
- Cigar Explorer
- Cigar Press
- Half Wheel
- Nice Tight Ash
- Stogie Review


The Cigar Safari was not only filled with tons of knowledge sharing, exposure to nuts and bolts of the industry, blending seminars, tasting seminar but also plenty of camaraderie and laid-back conversations lasting through the night, literally. I could attempt to summarize the Cigar Safari play-by-play but I would most likely run out of adjectives so instead, I will highlight few points and let photographs do the rest of the talking.


The amount of knowledge, information, tips, tricks and passion that was pouring out of Jonathan Drew and Steve Saka throughout the trip, was simply mind blowing. If you know Jonathan, you know he can make your ears “bleed.” Well, between him and Steve, they made all of our ears bleed, and some … in a good way ! Just when you think you know a little bit about cigars and the industry, trust me, you don’t know much. Those guys are uber-cigar-geeks and will hypnotize you with the cigar knowledge.


Not only was I invited to the Nicaragua, today’s Mecca of cigar industry, to learn about the craft and the country itself ‘from the ground’, I was given an opportunity to see and absorb all of it from the bird’s-eye view, literally. Never I imagined that I will be flying over Lake Managua in the helicopter, learning about the country, learning about the cigar industry, learning about Joya de Nicaragua & Drew Estate collaboration, with one and only – Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca as the private guide. What are the chances ??? Seriously ! From cigar-geek’s and photographer’s perspective, this was simply – a bliss !


Speaking of knowledge and misconceptions, Jose Blanco dropped a significant load of knowledge during the Tasting Seminar. This is another one of those ‘must attend’ learning classes. Jose will take you through the basics, will challenge your knowledge, will address many misconceptions and most importantly, open your eyes and palate so going forward, you can elevate your appreciation for cigar smoking experience.


There are many other topics that could be covered in this post but I will leave you, the reader, with photographs and have you ponder over the cigar industry and Cigar Safari. No words can describe the amount of work that goes into the production of the product that you and I both enjoy – the premium cigar. One has to see this operation and the beautiful Nicaragua with his/her own eyes to appreciate what I have attempted to illustrate. If you ever decide to pack your bags, don’t think twice … The Cigar Safari is your ticket to the “Nica Paradise.”


At the end, I would like to send a special THANKS to:

- Drew Estate family for their generosity and hospitality – Jonathan Drew, Steve Saka, Pedro Gomez, Johnny Brooke, David Lafferty
– Joya de Nicaragua family – Dr. Alejandro Martinez Cuenca, Jose Blanco, Mario Perez
– Pete Johnson of Tatuaje, Jaime Garcia of My Father Cigars, Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars
– Oliva Cigar Company
– and others (sorry if I forgot to call you out) who contributed to this amazing adventure !

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