San José de Cusmapa Offers Unrivaled Views

Located in the Madriz department of Nicaragua, the sleepy town of San José de Cusmapa is not likely to appear at the top of the list of places to visit for travelers exploring this fascinating country. Nonetheless, perched on a hillside at an elevation of more than 1,200 meters above sea level, San José de Cusmapa (generally referred to simply as “Cusmapa”) offers some spectacular panoramic views of its surroundings, stretching right to the Pacific coastline on a clear day, and many people pay a visit to the town for this very reason.

The locals advise that the best time of the day for a clear view is around noon and there are a number of vantage points from which to appreciate the scenery, with the two most interesting being Mano del Diablo and El Divisadero. Situated around one kilometer from the outskirts of Cusmapa, Mano del Diablo (the Devil’s Hand) is an interesting rock formation measuring around four hundred square meters, jutting out from the mountainside and surrounded by vegetation. The rocks making up Mano del Diablo are bright and smooth, forming irregular terrain and ending in a ravine at the western side. At that point visitors can enjoy an incredible view of the mountains and valleys found in the western departments of Nicaragua.

El Divisadero is located some 500 meters from the center of Cusmapa to the west and offers a superb view of the valley below as well as the Nicaraguan departments of León and Chinandega, but the most spectacular aspect of the view is the chain of volcanoes running down the Pacific coastline of the country. On a clear day the perfect cone-like shape of the Momotombo Volcano, located next to Lake Managua, can clearly be seen from El Divisadero, as well as the Cosiguina Volcano at the northwestern tip of Nicaragua and part of the Gulf of Fonseca coastline. At night the lights of the city of Chinandega twinkle in the distance.

While the town may be somewhat off the beaten track, the young people of San José de Cusmapa have the advantage of being able to attend one of the Fabretto Children’s Foundation supported schools located in the town. This non-profit organization assists in the education of more than 6,000 children throughout Nicaragua, with a view to promoting education, health, nutrition, community and character development, thereby ensuring that they become responsible and productive adults in Nicaraguan society. In addition to the essential basics of education, the tuition offered at the various Fabretto Children’s Foundation schools includes music, computer training, forestry, carpentry, vocational skills training and basketry with youths between the ages of four and twenty-five benefiting from the program.

While there may not be much in the way of tourism infrastructure at San José de Cusmapa, for those who appreciate the rugged beauty of the Nicaraguan landscape, this little town offers some of the best views in the country – and while you are there, why not stop in at the local school and see what the future generation is busy with.