Reserva Esperanza Verde

The Río San Juan & Islas Solentiname

Nestled on the Río Frío, roughly halfway between San Carlos and Los Chiles, is this private 50 sq km humid tropical forest reserve. Expect to see hundreds of bird species, three kinds of monkeys, fingernail-sized tree frogs and an array of rare orchids. You can do it in a day trip from San Carlos (US$30 per person, two-person minimum), including local transport, guide and trail access, which can be arranged through Hotel-Cabinas Leyko in San Carlos.

Alternatively, you can spend the night in one of its simple, solar-powered rooms (per person full board US$50).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Río San Juan & Islas Solentiname attractions

1. Malecón

3.12 MILES

The social heart of the town, this waterfront promenade overlooks both the lake and river and is always busy with children playing and couples taking a…

2. Mirador

3.17 MILES

A charming old Spanish observation post complete with cannons and panoramic views. To reach it, head up the staircase at the far end of the malecón.

3. Fortaleza de San Carlos

3.23 MILES

There's not much left of the town's fortress, which dates from 1724, but it enjoys some impressive Lake Nicaragua and Río San Juan views from several…

5. Islas Zapote & Zapotillo

8.97 MILES

Avid birders won’t want to miss tiny Islas Zapote and Zapotillo, which feature Nicaragua’s highest concentration of birds, most famously flocks of roseate…

6. Isla El Padre

17.13 MILES

You will hear the residents of Isla El Padre before you see them. Set between Mancarrón and San Fernando and named for yet another priest who long ago…

7. Isla Sevilla

22.34 MILES

Isla Sevilla, just west of Mancarroncito, is a haven for birdwatchers, with thousands of cormorants, tiger herons and pelicans here to enjoy some…

8. La Fortaleza

24.75 MILES

Properly known as La Fortaleza de la Limpia Pura e Inmaculada Concepción, this photogenic fortress was constructed between 1673 and 1675, commissioned…