Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1997, Bosawas is the largest protected reserve in all of Central America. At 20,000 square kilometers, itâ€™s bigger than Lago Cocibolca and comprises almost 7% of all Nicaragua. The reserve gets its name from Rio BOcay to the west, Cerro SAslaya to the south and Rio WAspule to the east -- BO-SA-WAS.
With thousands of insect species, hundreds of bird species (including macaws and the endangered harpy eagle), as well as anteaters, crocodiles, pumas, jaguars, tapirs and howler and spider monkeys, Bosawas is a wonderland for wildlife junkies. Much of the reserve is yet untouched, and it is likely that there are plenty of undiscovered animal and plant species here.
35,000 people live in the reserve, 25,000 of whom are indigenous and 10,000 Mestizo. The indigenous are the Mayangna and Miskito, who mostly live by means of subsistence farming. Impoverished farmers of non-indigenous origin have been migrating in ever greater numbers to the area, causing deforestation through overgrazing and their use of slash and burn agriculture. With an effect on global climate, the preservation of Bosawas is becoming increasingly important, as is the continuing scientific research that is taking place in the reserve. At the moment it is mostly used for scientific studies and ecotourism is only for the truly adventurous who are willing to undertake a journey into this difficult terrain.
As a lack of funds and resources makes it difficult to protect such a huge region, conservationists are becoming concerned with deforestation and the extinction of wildlife. As such, in order to minimize their impact on the wilderness, tourists should get permission from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources before entering the reserve. On granting permission they will also provide information on disease carrying insects and other natural dangers of which travelers should beware. They can also suggest guides. Letters should be written well in advance to:
Reserva de la Biosfera Bosawas
Apartado Postal 5123
Phone: (505) 233-1594
Most travelers enter Bosawas through Siuna, a small town located in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). To get to Siuna you can either take a nine hour bus from Managua (which leave daily from the Mayoreo Terminal at 5 am) or fly from Managua on La Costena airlines. The cost of the bus is 4 USD each way and the flight 42.50 USD round trip. Guides can be arranged at the nearby community El Hormiguero.
Groups can also arrange to take a fifteen person boat up the Rio Coco from the town, Wiwili. These cost about $1000 dollars regardless of the number of passengers --so the larger the group the more economical it is. To go up the river to Raiti and back takes about a week. There are no accommodations along the way, so bring your own tent to use at night along the riverbank. Boats can be taken up the Rio Bocay as well, although the town Ayapal from which the boats depart is more difficult to access than Wiwili. Both rivers end up at roughly the same point. By bus it is five hours from Jinotega to Wiwili and nine or ten from Jinotega to Ayapal. Wiwili has four hotels which can help arrange boat rental. Food and water, along with your tent, are your own responsibility.
Relative price: Budget
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