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Río San Juan

The very remoteness of the Río San Juan region makes it one of the less visited in Nicaragua. Yet this is where its wild charm lies. For example, in the quiet islands of Solentiname, you will find that the communitarian and artistic spirit inspired by revolutionary priest Ernesto Cardenal lives on. In the wide meanders and abandoned forts of the Río San Juan itself and in the extensive reserves of protected wildlife there is tremendous natural beauty.

On the flip side, the isolation of the region means that travel is a little more difficult than in more touristy parts of Nicaragua. You had better have time on your hands to wait for those twice-weekly boats to Solentiname or to Los Guatuzos, unless you can afford to pay big bucks for private (read: very costly) transportation. Also, as you go further downriver, the costs of food and other goods increase, as everything must be brought in by boat. As a result, everything costs a good 20% more than elsewhere.

Future Growth

 

Yet the Nicaraguan government and its European partners have made great efforts to improve transport and information. The million-dollar “Ruta del Agua” project is beefing up much-needed infrastructure. While it may look like a bit of an overkill to put up Intur offices everywhere (including one on Mancarrón), the effects can be positive. In particular, the new twice-weekly boat service from San Juan de Nicaragua to Bluefields may draw more visitors to the far end of the Río San Juan. There is a possible future connection to the rest of the Caribbean coast and the Corn Islands. In the meantime, enjoy being a bit of an adventurer, follow in the footsteps of pirates and gold diggers, and be prepared for the best off-the-beaten path experience in Nicaragua.

 









By Andrea Davoust
After more than two years of working and living out of a suitcase in Eastern Europe and in various improbable African countries that no-one has ever...
08 Dec 2009

Rio San Juan Things to See and Do

La Fortaleza de San Carlos

The main tourist attraction in San Carlos is the ancient fortress that was constructed in the 1666 by the Spanish to defend their trade route from pirates. The position was also used to support and ...
Historical Building
San Carlos, Nicaragua

Fishing

San Carlos is a small town located at both the mouth of the San Juan River and on the edge of Lake Cocibolca. Due to the town's location, fishing is not only an enjoyable recreational activity for ...
Boating
San Carlos, Nicaragua

Greytown

136151The few remains of the once thriving port of Greytown, now buried in the jungle, lie just a 15-minute boat ride from town. All that is left standing are a couple of concrete foundations of colonial ...
Ruin
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Laguna Azul

136152Just across the river from San Juan is a small and very pleasant freshwater lake surrounded by low vegetation. If you get someone to take you there for a few dollars, you can spend a couple of hours ...
Beach
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Reserva de vida silvestre Los Guatuzos

136635The wildlife refuge of Los Guatuzos is a 457-square kilometers reserve covering pretty much the whole south-eastern shores of Lake Nicaragua, between San Carlos, Río Medio Questo and the mouth of ...
National Park
Nicaragua

COSEMUCRIM Cacao Cooperative

For those who are curious to know where their sweet goodies come from, the cacao producers’ cooperative in town, which provides beans for the German chocolate brand Ritter, will happily give short ...
Other Activity
Boca De Sábalos, Nicaragua

Aguas Termales Escalera

Way out in the middle of the forest is a stream with seven bubbly sources of scalding hot water. You can take a dip in the hot springs, but they are as rustic as can be, with no showers, changing ...
Other Activity
Boca De Sábalos, Nicaragua

Fortaleza de la Inmaculada Concepción

The Fort at El CastilloThe squat fortress which stands on the highest point of El Castillo was completed in 1675 as part of the Spaniards’ defenses against British-led attacks on Granada and Leon. ...
Historical Building
El Castillo, Nicaragua

Río Indio

If you take a river trip up the Río Indio, you can get a glimpse of wildlife in the eastern reaches of the Reserva Indio Maiz. A tour can take you through lagunas up the river to basaltic rock ...
Other Activity
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Rio San Juan Hotels

Hotel Sábalos

135891The most comfortable rooms within Sábalos itself are in this all-wood hotel sitting right at the confluence of the two rivers. The pleasant rooms come with firm mattresses, mosquito nets, fans, ...
Hotel
Boca De Sábalos, Nicaragua

Hotel Costa Sur

(Rooms: $10.00-$30.00) Along the shoreline, 80 meters north of the harbor, is a quiet family-owned hostel with a nice porch that's lined with rocking chairs. The place is clean, the service is ...
Hotel
San Carlos, Nicaragua

Cabinas Urbinas

Right by the river is this handful of simple and somewhat darkish wooden cabins equipped with private bathrooms, mosquito nets and fans. The family who owns the place is building more, maybe counting ...
Hotel
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Hotelito Evo

This family-run hostel offers room that are not exactly spotless, but they are comfortable, and the service is friendly. There are three double rooms, three twin and one single, some with private ...
Hotel
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Hotel Disco-Bar Paraíso Virgen

A big yellow building at the furthest end of town from the pier, this hotel cum restaurant cum bar formerly known as Melvin's rents out five decent rooms. Each one comes with a private bathroom, ...
Hotel
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Accommodation summary

You won't exactly be spoiled for choice when looking where to drop your cases in San Juan. There aren't many options in town, and they all seem to offer similar basic lodgings at a rate of $10. The ...
Hotel
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Hotel Tropical/Restaurant Vanessa

Freshly opened in September of 2009, the small hotel above Vanessa’s offers the most pleasant rooms in town, all very clean, with wooden floors, private bathrooms, fan or A/C, and TV. There is ...
Hotel
El Castillo, Nicaragua

Albergue El Castillo

The Albergue as it is known in town, comes recommended as an excellent value option, comfortable and with friendly service. Set in a large hardwood building overlooking the pier, this hotel offers ...
Hotel
El Castillo, Nicaragua

Hotel Carelys

(Rooms: $10.00) This small and pleasant establishment is conveniently situated in the center of town, half a block south of the park. Hotel Carelys has clean, comfortable rooms and an amiable staff. ...
Hotel
San Carlos, Nicaragua

Hotel Cabinas Leyko

(Rooms: $13.00-$50.00) One of the nicer options in San Carlos is Hotel Cabinas Leyko, located two blocks west of the church. The place is large, with over 20 rooms along two stories. There is a porch ...
Hotel
San Carlos, Nicaragua

Hotels in Refugio Bartola

If you prefer to explore the forest more leisurely, you can stay at the rustic lodge also called Refugio Bartola (Cel: (505) 8401-0341, E-mail: refugiobartola@yahoo.com) which offers its own trails ...
Hotel
Refugio Bartola, Nicaragua

Rio San Juan Tours

Tours in Sábalo

Just like El Castillo and to a lesser extent San Carlos, Boca de Sábalos can serve as a base for fishing or nature-watching tours on the Río San Juan and into the Indio Maiz reserve. They can be ...
Tour Operator
Boca De Sábalos, Nicaragua

Tours in El Castillo

Several hotels or restaurants in town offer tours, all more or less identical and for similar prices. Your best bet is to organize one via Intur, who has the widest range and will contact the guides ...
Tour Operator
El Castillo, Nicaragua

Tours

Several people in town offer tours to Greytown, usually with a final dip in Laguna Azul. There are also fishing tours and others boat tours up the Río Indio. Most recommended are: Donald Reyes, who ...
Tour Operator
San Juan De Nicaragua, Nicaragua
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