Located in the mountainous region of central Nicaragua, the Matagalpa department is divided into thirteen municipalities – Ciudad Dario, Esquipulas, Matagalpa, Matiguas, Muy Muy, Rancho Grande, Rio Blanco, San Dionisio, San Isidro, San Ramon, Sebaco, Terrabona and Tuma-La Dalia. The capital city of the department is Matagalpa, located in the municipality of the same name. The city is one of Nicaragua’s main urban areas, as well as being a key commercial center serving the large agricultural areas in the region.
The scenic countryside of Matagalpa department is popular among hikers and nature lovers, and the thriving coffee plantations in the area offer insight into the production of coffee by means of the Coffee Route. The Coffee Museum in Matagalpa displays photographs and tools related to the history of coffee production, as well as some interesting pre-Columbian artifacts. The nearby Apante Hill has a well marked hiking trail winding its way past streams and waterfalls, to the lookout point at the summit. Hikers can expect to see a variety of small animals, butterflies and birds in the vegetation along the way.
While placing emphasis on preserving the centuries old trees and other natural wonders, the El Arenal Nature Reserve in the Matagalpa department is not a fenced in area and small farming communities live within the reserve. Visitors can explore some of the many trails running through the El Arenal Nature Reserve, where they will see a variety of stunning flora and fauna.
An indigenous community, located in the San Ramon municipality, produces a wide variety of tapestry and leather items, such as wallets and bags, which they sell to tourists. This very picturesque municipality is popular for hiking, horse riding, bird watching and other nature related activities. Waterfalls are found throughout the Matagalpa department, and some would say that the most beautiful are found in San Ramon. Adventurers may want to explore the abandoned gold mines of San Ramon, which are now home to large colonies of bats.
The town of Ciudad Dario, in the municipality of the same name, features the house where Nicaragua’s beloved poet Ruben Dario was born. The town, which was previously known as Metapa, was renamed in his honor and the house is a national museum. Visitors to the town should take a look at the rock painting collection outside the town and can purchase some souvenirs made from wood by a group of handicapped children.
The lovely Matagalpa department gives visitors the opportunity of enjoying life in rural Nicaragua which can be a richly rewarding experience.