18% of Nicaragua is protected in reserves, but ecotourism and wildlife conservation falls far short of its potential and is a story waiting to unfold. Each and every visitor makes a difference. Here are 3 examples.
The Juan Venado reserve protects part of an important coastal wetland corridor and can be visited in an easy
day trip from León. A 1hr drive brings you to a local beach where you board a waiting motor boat to explore
the reserve on an enthralling 2hr trip. Isla Juan Venado is a narrow barrier island 22km long separating the
ocean from the shore at a river estuary. Beyond the sandbar are important mangrove areas, and the estuary is home to an abundance of life including caiman, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and other marine creatures. The reserve includes a nesting beach for endangered Leatherback turtles. Olive Ridley turtles nest on the sand spit.
Domitila is a private reserve conserving tropical dry forest, where in the dry season the trees shed their leaves to minimise water loss. Domitila is a haven for birds, butterflies, howler monkeys and other mammals including jaguarundi, puma, sloth. There are 15km of trails for hiking, birdwatching and riding, 9 freshwater lagoons, and thermal waters to bathe in.
A 160 ha private reserve for day visitors. Mostly dry forest and former coffee plantations on 360-720m slopes, just 30 mins from Managua. Visitor trails give good birding (over 100 species listed).