Tour the Carazo Department of Nicaragua

With the city of Jinotepe as its capital, the Carazo department of Nicaragua is surrounded by the departments of Masaya, Granada, Managua and Rivas. Diriamba is the other large city in the Carazo department, with Dolores, El Rosario, La Conquista, La Paz de Carazo, San Marcos and Santa Teresa being the department’s remaining municipalities. Inland crops include high quality coffee, with areas nearer the ocean being suitable for the growing of citrus and sugar cane. The Pacific coastline has some lovely beaches with facilities for tourists, and other attractions include the private nature reserve Centro Ecoturistico la Maquina and the Salto de la Culebra Waterfall.

Nature enthusiasts visiting the Carazo department should be sure to include the Wildlife Reserve Río Escalante-Chacocente on their list of places to explore. This dry tropical reserve features a stretch of beach used by a huge number of Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) each year as a nursery for their eggs. Responding to the phases of the moon between July and December, hundreds of turtles arrive on the beach at night to dig holes in the sand into which their eggs will be laid.

Classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN, Olive Ridley sea turtles face a number of challenges in their quest to reach adulthood. When able to do so, poachers plunder the nests of the turtles, carrying away eggs by the thousand. In an effort to prevent this from happening, park rangers patrol the beach when the turtles arrive to nest and transfer some of the eggs to special nursery areas where they are protected during the hatching process. After incubating for 48 days, hundreds of thousands of little turtles hatch, dig their way out of their nests and start their dangerous journey down to the sea. During this time they are very vulnerable and exposed to predators. Other turtles that nest on the beaches of the reserve include green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate).

Activities that can be enjoyed during a visit to the Carazo department include hiking, mountain biking and horse riding, as well as touring coffee plantations and a variety of water sports.