Refugio de Vida Silvestre Río Escalante-Chacocente

Wildlife Reserve in Tola & the Tola Beaches

The main event at this remote wildlife refuge is the mass arrival of female turtles (at intervals between July and December), who crawl up onto the sandy shores to lay their eggs. It's an occasion worth planning a trip around, though Chacocente, as it's often called, is a year-round destination, with deserted beaches and good birdwatching.

The refuge protects five species of turtle, as well as 48 sq km of dry tropical forests and mangrove swamps. Cosetuchaco arranges wildlife watching.

Marena (Nicaragua's Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources) runs a biological station here where you can camp (US$5 per person), stay overnight in hostel-style accommodations (from US$10 per person) or stop for a simple meal (US$3 to US$5).

There’s currently no public transportation or regularly offered organized tours to the refuge, but if you have a 4WD you can take a signed, rough track 7km north of Salinas. Or you could walk along the shore 7km from El Astillero.