Jinotega Department, Nicaragua
With Honduras to the north and sharing borders with Matagalpa, Zelaya, Esteli, Madriz and Nueva Segovia departments, Jinotega is Nicaragua’s second largest department and is divided into eight municipalities – El Cua, Jinotega, La Concordia, San Jose de Bocay, San Rafael del Norte, San Sebastian de Yali, Santa Maria de Pantasma and Wiwili. The city of Jinotega, located in the municipality of the same name, is the capital of the Jinotega department.
Set in a verdant valley surrounded by majestic mountains, Jinotega is a charming city and a good base from which to explore the surrounding areas. In the city, the Harvey Wells Museum displays an interesting assortment of artifacts relating to the history of the area going back to pre-Columbian times when indigenous tribes inhabited the area. The mountains around the city of Jinotega offer hikers a number of trails, some of which lead to historical sites such as the spot where Augusto C. Sandino had his headquarters during the struggle against foreign invaders.
Around 25 kilometers from the outskirts of Jinotega is the little village of San Rafael del Norte, the birthplace of General Sandino's wife, Blanca Arauz. The Arauz family home has been turned into a museum where visitors can gain insight into the life of this man who became a national hero. Another attraction in San Rafael del Norte is the cathedral in the center of town. The El Jaguar Reserve is located in the San Rafael del Norte municipality. The reserve has a research station for biologists and students and offers visitors superb bird watching opportunities and ecotourism activities. The Kilimanjaro Coffee Farm gives visitors the opportunity of learning about the farming and production of coffee. Visitors can also arrange for a horseback ride through the forest – an excellent way to connect with nature.
The steep cliffs of the Penas Blancas Massif in the Jinotega department, rise up to a height of over 1,700 meters and is one of Nicaragua’s highest points. The Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, which includes the Penas Blancas Massif, has varied terrain and its eco-climates include both rain and cloud forests. Visitors to the reserve can arrange to stay with one of the rural communities and join in their daily activities, while at the same time enjoying the spectacular scenery and fascinating flora and fauna of the reserve.
In the Apanas Valley, a man-made lake provides hydroelectric power to Nicaragua, and also offers some exciting activities for tourists, such as fishing, boating, kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding and hiking through the lush vegetation which is home to butterflies, birds and a variety of small animals. The natural beauty of Jinotega department is its major asset and nature lovers will find a visit to this spectacular region of Nicaragua to be a memorable experience.