National Parks in Nicaragua
In a country teeming with wildlife and diversity, there is little mystery as to why so many tourists are choosing to visit National Parks in Nicaragua instead of cities and beaches. Nicaragua has some 78 nature reserves, parks and wildlife sanctuaries filled with amazing diversity. Many of Nicaragua’s National Parks provide nearby lodging to limit wilderness camping and further damage to the environment. However, with so many to choose from, it is often difficult to decide where to start. We have provided a brief description of several National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries in Nicaragua below to help get you started.
Indio-Maìz Biological Reserve
The reserve features the largest and finest expanse of lowland rain forest in Central America. While it features a number of endangered species like jaguars and giant anteaters, it is also home to over 400 species of bird, four species of wild cat and over 200 species of reptiles.
Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge
Located on the southern side of Lake Nicaragua as well as on the western shores of the San Juan River, the Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge features a variety of environments. It has a wetland, a gallery forest and a tropical forest wildlife park. It is one of the best spots for bird watchers to don their binoculars and also features monkeys, sloths, caiman, iguanas and agouti. Most of the traveling and game viewing in this reserve is done by boat.
Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve
A botanists dream, the Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve is situated on the dormant Mombacho Volcano. The reserve features some of the most beautiful cloud forest flora in the Latin America. More than 800 species of plant life can be found here, including bromeliads and orchids. However the sides of the volcano are also home to a number of animals and howler monkeys have claimed dominance here. The park has brilliant trails and on a clear day you can see Granada, Lake Nicaragua and the Las Isletas Archipelago as you make your way around the volcano.
Chocoyero Nature Reserve
This nature reserve may be small but it is rich in wildlife. Its most notable creature is the chocoyo, which nests along the cliffs next to a tiny cascade. Besides the more than 800 chocoyos nesting here, you will find toucans, deer, agouti, hummingbirds and howler monkeys. The park is largely tropical dry forest and has wonderfully diverse flora.
La Flor Wildlife Refuge
La Flor Wildlife Refuge is a coastal sea turtle nesting sight. It protects over 30 000 olive ridley turtles that come here to nest each year between August and December. The refuge features beautiful beach, tropical dry forest and mangrove swamps. You will find the La Flor Wildlife Refuge on the southern pacific seaboard just south of San Juan del Sur.
Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve
This reserve is considered to be an important coastal wetlands reserve and as such is part of the national park system. The island is roughly 22 km long and half a kilometer wide. It features a nesting site for sea turtles as well as an estuary for water fowl, iguana, crocodile and caiman. It also has some ecologically important mangroves. It can be explored by motorboat or kayak.
Montibelli Nature Reserve
The Montibelli Nature Reserve is a privately owned park in Managua. It is the best forest reserve in the Pacific basin for bird watching. Here you can see mot-mots, manikins, hummingbirds and trogons, amongst other things. If you visit during the right time of the year, you will also be able to enjoy a wide variety of butterflies.
Selva Negra Cloud Forest Reserve
This is a privately owned reserve with a difference. The reserve forest is part of an organic shade coffee operation and hotel project. This coffee hacienda is praiseworthy as it is 100% ecologically sustainable. Everything here is carefully recycled. The forest is a great place to go hiking and you are likely to see howler monkey as well as plenty of birds along the way.
El Jaguar Cloud Forest Reserve
The El Jaguar Cloud Forest Reserve is also a privately owned forest reserve with an organic shade coffee farm. It is situated 1 300 meters above sea-level and features prehistoric ferns, giant oak trees, bromeliads, orchids and strangler figs. It is also home to over 150 species of birds.