We had heard of a canyon in the north of Nicaragua that was supposed to be amazing. The canyon was only discovered (by outsiders, the locals have known about it for decades) in 2002. It was made a National Park and since then has been the main tourist attraction in the sleepy little town of Somoto. Though even now it is still not widely known about. The canyon was the main reason why we had come to Esteli as the canyon could be accessed from here.
We were going to book through a tour company but the lovely lady at the hostel told us that if you make your own way to the canyon entrance you can pick up a local guide there cheaper and for just the two of us. So we found ourselves on the early chicken bus heading towards Somoto. It wasn’t that pleasant as it was packed to the rafters and took 2 hours as the bus was stopping every few kms.
We eventually made it and our next instructions were to catch a taxi to the entrance of the park. We were accosted by a lady who worked at the bus station trying to sell us a package. Even going so far as to call the guy and put Tim on the phone with him. We said no and got in the taxi. Little did we know that the tour operators house is 300 metres in front of the actual entrance and that is where the taxi dropped us off. We didn’t know this until we were walking back out of the canyon and passed the real entrance. Anyway we had heard of this guy and he got great reviews as his company was a community project aimed at giving the local kids something to do so it was all good.
We were introduced to our guide Alexander who was one of the local kids from Somoto. We soon had our life jackets on and were being driven to the drop off point. The cool thing about this canyon is that it is very narrow and the walls can be up to 200 metres high and as there is a river running through it you have to swim and rock climb a lot of the way.
So after a brief walk along the river, we were in the water and swimming down the canyon. We also had the opportunity to jump off a few rocks into the water which was really fun. We got up to 5 metres and that was enough for us.
It was really very beautiful and because it was just the 3 of us we got to really experience the wildness of the place. It was awesome just floating on your back looking up at the walls of the canyon. So tranquil. We were very glad we had the life jackets as it would have been a struggle towards the end swimming so much. Time flew by and we soon found ourselves walking back toward the entrance. Definitely a highlight of Nicaragua.
The bus back wasn’t though as it was already full when we got there and had to stand the whole way. This bus was apparently an express bus but I couldn’t quite work out the difference as we still stopped to pick everyone up. It only took an hour and a half so I suppose it was a little quicker than the morning one. But it was definitely worth it. S
Hmmm this looks a little higher than I thought!…….
Very interesting rock formations. According to Tim, these were formed by rocks getting stuck in little holes and the river current flowing over them which causes them to move in the hole, slowly making the hole bigger and bigger.