Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve
The Apoyo Lagoon lies in a crater near the center of a long volcanic chain running from north to south in Nicaragua, between the departments of Granada and Masaya. Declared as a nature reserve in 1991, the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve is one of the 78 protected areas of Nicaragua and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment and natural Resources (MARENA). The lush green slopes of the crater and the fresh clean water of the lagoon, along with a wide variety of flora and fauna, make the reserve a popular leisure destination for tourists and locals.
The crater in which the lagoon lies was formed by a strong volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Rain and subterranean water filled the crater over time, and vegetation took root on its slopes. The crater is currently considered to be a sleeping volcano, with hot springs in the lagoon serving as a reminder that volcanic activity is still taking place deep beneath the earth. The deepest level of the lagoon is 100 meters below sea level and its surface measures approximately 2,110 hectares.
Apoyo’s neighbors in the volcanic chain include Mombacho volcano to the south and the Masaya volcano to the north. While there are other, just as spectacular volcanic lagoons in Nicaragua, Apoyo’s close proximity to both Granada and Masaya give it the advantage for attracting tourism. While the tourism infrastructure of the reserve is still relatively undeveloped, many eco-tourism opportunities exist and visitors can enjoy the dark sand beaches, swimming in the lagoon, kayaking, scuba diving, boating, birding and paragliding.
The reserve consists primarily of a tropical dry forest ecosystem, with a diverse range of plants and tropical dry trees, including mahogany, black rosewood and the spectacular flowering pochote. Mammals that are likely to be seen in the reserve include Howler monkeys, White-faced Capuchin monkeys, opossums, pacas, anteaters and squirrels, with reptiles including common boas and green iguanas. There are more than 200 bird species in the reserve and up to 65 species of migratory birds have been documented as well as around 220 species of butterflies. Certainly, the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve of Nicaragua is a nature-lovers paradise.