Nicaragua: Waterfall Excursions

There is something about the thought of refreshing yourself under the cascading torrent of a waterfall that appeals to the romantic in us all. Nicaragua doesn’t disappoint as it has several major and minor waterfalls that are generally easy-to-reach and even easier to enjoy.

Salto de La Estanzuela is a waterfall about six kilometers from Esteli. The waterfall is not spectacularly big, but it is nice to see and it’s surely refreshing to swim in the pond underneath the waterfall. El Salto Estanzuela is surely the region’s most famous swimming hole — a gorgeous 15-meter cascade that plunges into a cold, shady pool, all smothered in colorful native flora and fauna. It’s just southwest of the city.

It is possible to hike all the way from Esteli. This will take a couple hours and is exhausting, but will make a dip in the cold water even more deserved and refreshing. The road that takes you to Salto de La Estanzuela is located in the southern part of Esteli, just off the Pan American highway. Coming from Managua, you will see a big bus stop on your left hand right before entering Esteli. Close to this terminal you will find the road, on your left as well. Ask around close to the bus station for the town of Estanzuela. After taking this road, you should go straight and wait for signs that point to the waterfall. The hike is not particularly hard, but it will get hot and the road is never really flat. You could also drive there and walk the last 15 minutes, but a 4WD, or more importantly a high clearance vehicle, is recommended. The entrance fee is about U$1 per group, Meanwhile over in the El Chocoyero Natural Reserve, located in the lush sub-humid tropical forests of Ticuantepe (about 30 minutes from Managua) are two of the regions most popular falls in addition to an incredible experience for bird lovers.

El Brujo has been called “the shaman” and “the warlock”, because legend has it that its cascading water contains magical healing powers. El Brujo is only 25 meters high, but maintains a constant 100 gallons/minute of pure water throughout the year, benefiting the nearby population and whoever can reach it.

Not to be outdone is El Chocoyero, which is possibly the more popular of the two falls in the Reserve. Supplied with water by a never-ending sequence of rain clouds, which form over Lake Cocibolca and are propelled by strong warm winds that blow from the Caribbean, the 3,300 foot tall Chocoyero Falls supply seven nearby communities with plenty of water — An average of 70 gallons per minute to be exact. Reaching El Chocoyero is definitely a challenge; it sits at the top of a 1.5 meter steep climb. Definitely “slippery-when-wet” you need to be careful when you climb this baby.

El Chocoyero’s main attraction may not be its 18-meter water drop, but its surroundings. The cliffs around this cascade are home to dozens of thousands of green parakeets or “chocoyos”, making this one of the main reasons why thousands of people visit the reserve each year. El Chocoyero also contributes with the locals by providing some 60 gallons of pure water each minute.

For more information on great places to stay and even greater places to visit see our travel section.