Explore the Spectacular Cerro Arenal Natural Reserve
Covering an area of around 1,428 hectares, and located along the road between Jinotega and Matagalpa, the Cerro Arenal Natural Reserve consists primarily of forested mountain slopes, with the highest point of the reserve being a tropical cloud forest located at 1,570 meters above sea level. The various habitats of Cerro Arenal support a wide diversity of flora and fauna, making it a popular destination for visitors who enjoy tranquility, nature and a host of hiking options to suit all abilities.
Although the Cerro Arenal Natural Reserve is a protected area it is not fenced in, and visitors will find that quite a number of farms and rural houses fall within the reserve. Many of these offer refreshments and freshly picked produce to visitors, and experienced local guides are usually available to accompany hikers if required. Hiring the services of a guide provides much needed income in the area and gives visitors the advantage of local knowledge with regard to the flora and fauna in the reserve, as well as which routes are best suited to hikers’ abilities.
Among the animals that visitors may see in the reserve are howler monkeys and armadillos, and birding enthusiasts stand a good chance of spotting the colorful quetzal when viewing the abundant birdlife. Cerro Arenal Natural Reserve is also home to the oldest known oak trees in the Central American region.
With rain occurring between May and December each year the vegetation is lush, and although the route is interesting and the views are spectacular, it is advised that only the most experienced hikers tackle the steep and slippery slopes of the cloud forest mountainsides. Hikers should be sure to wear sturdy footwear and a waterproof jacket or raincoat during these rainy months.
There are a number of access points to the reserve, including the most popular along the Matagalpa-Jinotega road, as well as via the Selva Negra-San Luis trail, the Las Escaleras-San Antonio trail and the Arenales-Aranjuez Road. Additional information regarding guides and the facilities of Cerro Renal Natural Reserve can be obtained from MARENA – the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – the government department which cares for the seventy-eight protected areas of Nicaragua.