The Magnificent Somoto Canyon National Monument

The stunning canyon rock formations that have been declared as the Somoto Canyon National Monument are situated near the town of Somoto in the Madriz Department of Nicaragua. The protected area of the canyon covers approximately 170 hectares and is one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.

The Somoto Canyon and surrounding areas remained relatively unexplored prior to 2004, when a joint venture between scientists from the Czech Republic and Nicaragua discovered the canyon and started to conduct research there. Findings made while doing research have led scientist to conclude that the canyon was formed more than five million years ago during what is known as the Miocene epoch. This was a period of time extending between twenty-three and five million years ago. The Miocene epoch was named by Sir Charles Lyell and the name is derived from the Greek words “meioon” (less) and “kainos” (new) so it means “less recent” and is determined by the percentage of modern sea invertebrates.

The Somoto Canyon has become a major tourist attraction, to the benefit of the development of the tourism industry in Nicaragua, and especially to the benefit of the local inhabitants of the nearby town of Somoto. Walking, boating or scaling the canyon walls can access the canyon, which is several kilometers long. The narrowest part of the canyon can only be reached by swimming or in an inflatable inner tube. The water is very clean and clear and the temperature is mild – perfect to explore on a hot summer’s day and the best way to appreciate the majesty of this geological treasure.

Unfortunately, the influx of tourists has also resulted in acts of vandalism such as graffiti being written on the Canyon walls. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources regularly sends workers to clean and repair the damage done, ensuring that the Somoto Canyon National Monument always lives up to its reputation as a wonderful place to visit.

When you travel to Nicaragua, be sure to visit the lovely town of Somoto and take some time to explore the fascinating Somoto Canyon National Monument – it will be a very memorable experience.