Elizabeth Perkins

Hiking Bosawás Biosphere Reserve

North of Managua, Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is the largest uninterrupted tract of primary rainforest north of the Amazon. Any trip in Bosawás is a serious backcountry undertaking and should not be attempted without proper supplies, some wilderness experience, a tolerance for dampness and discomfort, and a basic survival instinct. Guides are both obligatory and absolutely necessary.

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Planning Your Time on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic coast of Nicaragua is a land unto itself. The coast is languid and lazy, with sultry mangrove estuaries, white, sandy beaches, and a relaxed lifestyle. Bluefields is a quintessential Caribbean port town, with enough fresh seafood to wear you out, an oppressive afternoon sun, and a no-hurry attitude. Corn Island and Little Corn Island are another scene altogether with soft sand beaches and rustling palm fronds, plus an isolated feeling that’s hard to find elsewhere.

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Planning Your Time in León and Chinandega, Nicaragua

In León and Chinandega, you can delve into the volcanic half of “the land of lakes and volcanoes.” Explore the Ring of Fire by peering into a crater lake at the top of Cosigüina, catching a glimpse of lava at night from Telica, or sliding down Cerro Negro at high speeds. There’s plenty to do, whether you come for two days or two weeks–exploring the cities, the shore, and places like Las Peñitas, Isla Juan Venado, Padre Ramos, and other points outside León that require more effort to reach but are excellent destinations.

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Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge

Howler monkeys and birdcalls will wake you bright and early in Los Guatuzos. Los Guatuzos contains dense populations of crocodiles; caimans; feral pigs; jaguars; and howler, white-faced, and spider monkeys. This is also home to a rare, ancient species of fish called the gaspar (Actractoseus tropicus), a living, armored relic of the Jurassic age. Between February and April, flocks of migratory species fly through in spectacular concentrations.

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The Solentiname Archipelago and the Río San Juan

The Río San Juan carries the waters of Lake Cocibolca to the Caribbean through a lush landscape of extensive nature reserves and broad cattle ranches. The biggest town in the area, San Carlos, has transformed from edgy port town to quaint destination, while offshore, the Solentiname Archipelago is a quiet group of islets of striking natural beauty. This region isn’t part of the casual traveler’s itinerary, but if you can invest a little more time than usual, the dramatic landscapes and remoteness will impress you.

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Hiking Nicaragua’s Maribio Volcanoes

Each volcano along the Maribio chain is unique and offers a different sort of adventure from the quintessential cone-shaped volcano, Momotombo, to the most frequently active volcano in the chain, Cerro Negro. Start early for each of these and bring a minimum of three liters of water per person. None of these hikes should be attempted without a guide, but luckily you won’t have any trouble finding a local one. Community tourism projects are growing at the base of many of these volcanoes.

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A Walking Tour of León’s Churches

A walking tour is the most enjoyable and effective way to treat yourself to the impressive architecture of León’s churches. Ranging from the 16th to 18th centuries, these churches showcase colonial, baroque, and neoclassical styles, and sometimes combine two or even all three with brilliant results. Start at La Catedral de León, near the central park, then head either northeast or southwest.

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Exploring Nicaragua’s El Tisey Nature Reserve

Ascending into the Tisey Nature Reserve, you will notice a change in landscape as the cool air fills your lungs and the aroma of pine reaches your nostrils. This is the southernmost point in the Western Hemisphere where you’ll find pine forest, and the huge moss-covered trees are lined with hundreds of species of orchids. This area is also home to some inspiring communities and cultural sites. There’s more to see than you’ll likely have time for, so plan a few days at least.

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Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Moon author Jason Frye

Jason Frye (Moon Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Raised deep in the mountains of West Virginia, Jason Frye first fell in love with North Carolina as a kid during family vacations to the Outer Banks. In 2002, he swapped his mountains for sand dunes and his river for an ocean when he moved to Wilmington to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing. There, his love for North Carolina deepened into a longing to stay, settle, explore, and be a part of the people, culture, and history of the state.

Along with his wife, Lauren, Jason has kayaked the marshes and waterways near his home; hang glided off the Outer Banks; explored the cityscapes of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; and wandered the woods and wilds around Asheville.

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Jason has contributed stories to VisitNC.com, AAA’s Go Magazine, Our State magazine, Southern Living, Salt, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, and acts as a culinary critic for the Wilmington StarNews.

Keep up with Jason on Instagram @beardedwriter.