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Introducing Northern Highlands

You’ve officially escaped Central America’s backpacker superhighway and arrived in a place where colorful quetzals nest in misty cloud forests, and Nicaragua’s best coffee and tobacco are cultivated with both capitalist zeal and collective spirit. With a little time and commitment you’ll duck into ancient, crumbling cathedrals, get pounded by countless waterfalls, explore recently discovered canyons, and pay tribute to the pirates, colonists, revolutionaries, artists and poets who were inspired by these fertile mountains and mingled with the humble, open-hearted people who’ve lived here for generations.

On either end of the region are two up-and-coming cities; hardworking Estelí buzzes with students, farmers and cigar moguls, while Matagalpa is slightly hipper, and better funded, thanks to nearly a century of successful coffee cultivation. All around and in between are granite peaks and lush valleys dotted with dozens of small towns and infinite caffeine-fueled adventures.