El Salto Estanzuela in Nicaragua. Photo © Carles-Amalaric Navarro Parcerisas/123rf.

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.

Nicaragua's national bird, the turquoise-browed ... Photo © Jeff Grabert/123rf.

Explore Miraflor Nature Reserve in Nicaragua

More than a trip into Estelí’s misty mountains, a visit to Miraflor is a trip backward in time. Miraflor is unabashedly rustic, natural, and unpretentious. Declared a protected natural reserve in 1990, this rudimentary tourist infrastructure was developed by locals. You can certainly visit parts of Miraflor in a day trip from Estelí, but consider experiencing the unique and friendly lodging options.

Coffee ready for roasting at a cooperative. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

La Ruta de Café: Nicaragua’s Coffee Cooperatives

Both international coffee merchants and café-turistas can travel a circuit of coffee cooperatives scattered through the mountains of Jinotega, Matagalpa, and the Segovias. As a participant in this Ruta de Café, you can stay for a couple of hours or a couple of days, living and eating meals with the families, picking coffee, and learning about all stages of the process.

Coffee ready for roasting at a cooperative. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Tourism Cooperatives in Nicaragua

The best way to get to know Nicaragua is to spend time with Nicaraguans, and small farming communities across the country have created local tourism options for foreigners who want a deeper experience. Supporting these tourism cooperatives keeps money in the local economy and promotes sustainable socio-economic growth, which means communities can maintain their identity and families can stay together.

Finca Bona Fide. Photo © Peter Abrahamsen, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Alternative Tourism on La Isla de Ometepe

There are numerous opportunities to support everyday Nicaraguans with your tourism dollars on La Isla de Ometepe. From long-standing solidarity partnerships to sustainable agriculture work and research projects, Ometepe awaits those looking for something a little different.

Rancho Corozal, a private hideaway on the Rio Tatin. Photo © Al Argueta.

Exploring Río Tatín in Río Dulce National Park

One of Guatemala’s oldest parks, the waterway connecting the Caribbean Sea with Lake Izabal is protected as Río Dulce National Park. Along Río Tatín, you’ll find some excellent accommodations built into the surrounding jungle and in complete harmony with their environment. It showcases the region’s wonderful seclusion while at the same time providing a comfortable base from which to explore the area.

Crystal-clear stream on Cerro Chirripó. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Hiking Chirripó National Park

Chirripó National Park protects hundreds of thousands of acres of of high-elevation terrain surrounding Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest peak. No guides are required for hiking the Termómetro trail, but they are compulsory for the Herradura trail.

Nicaraguan frog. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Nicaragua’s Reptiles, Insects, and Amphibians

Part of a biological corridor that for millions of years has allowed plant and animal species from two continents to mingle, Nicaragua boasts an extraordinary blend of flora and fauna. Here’s a look at the reptiles, amphibians, and insects you’ll find here.

Because of its strategic location, the Dúrika Biological Reserve serves as a refuge to many endangered species, such as the Harpy Eagle. Photo © Brian Gratwicke, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Buenos Aires and the Durika Biological Reserve

The gateway to the northern section of Parque Internacional La Amistad is Buenos Aires, a small agricultural town in the midst of an endless green ocean of piñas. Here you’ll find the Reserva Biológica Durika, a self-sufficient agricultural community operating an authentic ecotourism project that welcomes visitors.

Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.