Located 35 kilometers (22 mi) northeast of Esteli, this campesino-owned nature reserve became protected in 1990, and is a haven for exotic flora and fauna including hundreds of species of birds and orchids. The best time to go is in June, as this is when the birds migrate south and the orchids bloom. A lucky visitor might also spot howler monkeys, coyotes, armadillos, and other wildlife.
As all the land is privately owned, Miraflor is not easy to go on your own. Fortunately thereâ€™s UCA Miraflor, a coop involved in micro credit initiatives, renewable and alternative technologies, and training guides specializing in tours of Reserva Miraflor. Arrangements can be made at their office in Esteli. Guides cost $15 per day. Renting a horse costs $7 per person per day, but you also have to pay $19 for the guide and his horse. This fee is paid in advance at the Esteli office where youâ€™ll receive a voucher to give to your guide.
Although it is possible to do Miraflor as a daytrip, spending the night at a homestay will add a cultural dimension to your experience. These are also arranged through UCA Miraflor. Accommodations are pretty rustic --no electricity or running water. Some houses have solar panels, but they arenâ€™t so reliable, especially in the cloud forest. Itâ€™s probably a good idea to bring a flashlight. Bucket baths are the norm. Food is generally vegetarian as meat is reserved for holidays, but make sure your host family knows if you have dietary restrictions. Drinking water is provided. If you offer to help with the cooking and washing you might catch a glimpse of family life behind the scenes. Should you decide to go for several days, CafĂ© Luna can store your bags. Homestays cost $15 per person per night, 20 percent of which goes back to UCA.
Visitors can choose to stay among the five communities that spread out over three microclimates that exist within the park and UCA Miraflor can help you choose the one thatâ€™s right for you. The dry zone community of Coyolito grows beans, tomatoes and other vegetables. Two families offer homestays there, one of which provides visitors with their own cabin. Nearby there is a 16 meter waterfall, called Tres Cascadas. Buses from Coyolito to La Pita twice a day.
La Pita and Sontule are in the semi-humid zone just below the cloud forest, which in the 60â€™s and 70â€™s underwent major deforestation due to crop growing and cattle raising. In this area, the primary crop is coffee and there are many small producers that own between one and twenty acres of land. Sontule has two coffee coops and one womenâ€™s coop, and five to six families offer homestays there. The walk from La Pita to Sontule takes one and a half hours.
La Perla is the smallest community, with only one family offering homestays. The poorest and most populated community is Puertas Azules, which currently offers no homestays.
If homestays are a little too up close and personal, visitors can choose to stay at Finca Neblina Del Bosque, owned by a German/Nica couple. The farm offers bamboo cabins with private bath at a rate of $25 per night. Vegetarian food made with local products and all non-alcoholic beverages are included. Neblina also offers guides for $12, a tour with a biologist specializing in birds and orchids for $20, and tours on horseback for $10. To get to the farm ask the driver to let you off the bus at La Rampla (about an hour and a half ride) and then walk uphill for about 8 minutes. 666-5245 Isabel.email@example.com.
Other more upscale options include Finca Lindas Ojos (713-4041) and Posada La Sonada (713-6333).
Weather can be unpredictable and it can get cold, windy, and rainy, so dress in layers. Cover up your feet because there are black flies, donâ€™t wear shorts because of ticks. Bring insect repellent, snacks --homestays only provide meals. Some homestays also provide mosquito nets. Beware of snakes and scorpions.
Buses to Miraflor leave Terminal Norte in Esteli on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday only a few times a day. Schedules are subject to change, so itâ€™s best to check with UCA before heading out. Due to the bumpy roads the trip can last two to three hours.
UCA Miraflor can provide more information about the different communities, lodging options and activities.
Relative price: Budget
Travel Skills: None