A Wildlife Adventure at Refugio Bartola

Refugio Bartola is a nature reserve in Nicaragua that is positively brimming with wildlife. It is situated at the confluence of the Rio San Juan and its tributary, the Rio Bartola, about halfway along the 190 kilometer river’s journey from Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean Sea. Numerous trips and tours are on offer for nature-loving tourists who want to get a close look at the amazing flora and fauna in this beautiful area.

Refugio Bartola, together with the Reserva Indio Maiz, are protected eco-tourism areas which form part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Visitors are welcomed at the Refugio Bartola eco-lodge, which makes an ideal base for exploring the river and forest paths winding through trees, covered by a canopy of vines teeming with interesting birds, mammals, butterflies and insects. Orchids and bromeliads add a splash of color to the shades of green rainforest foliage, and birdsong can be heard all around. The guides who take visitors on tours through the forest are very knowledgeable on the flora and fauna of the area, making the trip both exciting and educational.

Mammals in Refugio Bartola include a number of monkey species, such as howler and spider monkeys, as well as three-toed sloths, pumas, jaguars, armadillos, raccoons, wild boar and river otters. The area is home to about 200 species of reptiles, including the yellow-banded poison dart frog, iguanas and snakes. The Nicaragua shark, the only freshwater shark species in the world, is found in the San Juan River, which is also home to the manatee, otherwise known as a sea cow. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in the area and birding enthusiasts never cease to be amazed by the variety and numbers of birds to be seen, both on the water and in the lush green rain-forest.

Refugio Bartola has a biological research station that is used as a base for studies in the evaluation, conservation and management of natural forest biodiversity. The lodge is run on eco-friendly principles, which includes solar generated power, self-sustaining cultivation of produce and water recycling.

Nicaragua is a country so rich in biodiversity that often the biggest difficulty facing tourists is what to see first. Refugio Bartola is certainly a good place to start the adventure of exploring Nicaragua.