Nicaragua’s National Parks, Nature Reserves and Eco-Tourism Hot-Spots
Nicaragua is a favorite destination for eco- and nature-lovers. Below are some of Nicaragua’s national parks and nature reserves of note. While there are many more for your clients to discover, here are a just a few of these easily accessible and eco-centric sites in Nicaragua that are not to be missed:
National Parks and Nature Reserves
Indio Maiz Biological Reserve
Located in the southeast region of Nicaragua near the mighty San Juan River, the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve is one of the best preserved and unexplored reserves in the country. It consists of mangrove estuaries, lagoons and winding waterways. The reserve is home to a large variety of rainforest fauna including howler monkeys, pumas, jaguars, poison dart frogs, royal tarpons, bull sharks and hundreds of varieties of beautifully colored birds including the rare “Royal Fly Catcher.”
Masaya National Park
One of the most visited national parks in Central America, Masaya National Park offers a rare chance for visitors to peer directly into the edge of a steaming volcanic crater. Masaya is especially convenient for your clients who may want to experience a live volcano without too much effort, as the crater is accessible by car or bus.
Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve
Perched above Mombacho Volcano, the Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve is a 2,500-acre protected area with stunning flora and fauna that flourish in the high-elevation and misty surroundings. Visitors will find amazing colored orchids and bromeliads, and more than 800 species of plants and hundreds of wildlife species, including the crimson-breasted, emerald-plumed quetzal, Mombacho butterfly and Mombacho salamander. Well-maintained hiking trails offer great views of Granada and the archipelago of Las Isletas down below on cloudless days.
Zapatera National Park
Located in Lake Nicaragua, Zapatera National Park offers a pristine archaeological sanctuary with alternating humid to dry eco-systems. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy the numerous petroglyphs and ceremonial sites carved in pre-Colombian times by the ancient Chorotega and Niquirano cultures, while nature-lovers will relish the pristine hiking trails, crater lakes and fishing.
Additional Eco-Tourism Hot Spots
Nicaragua is one of the best places to explore Mother Nature’s bounty. Many visitors incorporate stops with eco-touristic and nature focuses on their itineraries between their beach time and cultural exploration. Here are a few of Nicaragua’s eco hot spots:
Chacocente and La Flor Sanctuaries
Famous for their massive turtle spawning grounds, these two sanctuaries offer visitors the opportunity to take in the majestic sight of thousands of turtles nesting. Most commonly seen is the Paslama turtle, while the gigantic Tora turtle also occasionally nests here.
El Chocoyero – El Brujo
A short 36-minute drive from Managua is the Chocoyero – El Brujo Protected Area where nature lovers will find the notable chocoyo, also known as the Pacific parakeet or Nicaraguan green conure. Endemic to the protected area, more than 800 chocoyos nest along the cliffs next to a cascade, alongside toucans, deer, agouti, hummingbirds and howler monkeys.
Juan Venado Island Nature Reserve
This important wetland reserve features a nesting site for sea turtles as well as an estuary and mangroves for water fowl, iguanas, crocodiles and caimans. The coastal reserve is located near León and can be explored by motorboat or kayak.
Known for sightings of the rare and colorful Lapa Roja macaw, this natural reserve is located in the upper northwestern corner of Nicaragua and attracts hikers and wildlife observers to its steep vertical cliffs above the Gulf of Fonseca. Visitors have access to 172 species of wildlife and views of an impressive crater lake via a three-hour long hiking trail and a longer eight-hour hiking route.
Padre Ramos Estuary Natural Reserve
One of the best-conserved mangrove swamps on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, visitors can meander via kayak through this large mangrove estuary with numerous inlets and lagoons. Compared with other reserves, Padre Ramos has relatively fewer visitors making it a true nature-lover’s paradise. The area is home to extraordinary natural beauty, as well as numerous species of migratory and resident birds, fishes, crustaceans, sea turtles and other wildlife.