If you’re looking for comfort with your virgin cloud forest experience, then Selva Negra – part family resort, part coffee farm and part rainforest preserve – could be for you. The 850-hectare estate blooms with bromeliads and rare orchids year-round and is home to nesting quetzals in April and May. Founded in the 1880s by German immigrants – who were a part of the original German coffee invasion that created the industry – it's named after Germany’s Black Forest.

Their descendants still manage the reserve, which is webbed with several kilometers of lush jungle trails. Visitors can go on nature tours (US$15 per hour, at 7:30am), coffee tours (US$22 per person, at 9:30am and 2pm), sustainable agriculture tours (US$15 per person, at 10am and 1:30pm) and night walks (US$10 per person, at 6pm), and enjoy horseback riding (US$5 per hour). Alternatively, you can simply hike the 20km of trails at your leisure or relax at the restaurant, which overlooks a lake backed by cloud forest. Given the setting and abundance of activities, it’s no surprise that North American families and package tourists flock here, which means that it doesn't always have the most authentic flavor.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Iglesia Catedral San Pedro

4.86 MILES

Built in 1874, Matagalpa's glorious, whitewashed neoclassical cathedral is flooded with light. Inside the sanctuary are a natural wood altar, gorgeous…

2. Museo Nacional de Café


This absorbing museum features large, glossy, printed displays in Spanish and English on the roots of modern coffee production in the region, as well as…

3. Iglesia Molagüina

5.16 MILES

The 1751 Iglesia Molagüina, in the center of town, is the plainest of Matagalpa's churches, but has nice gardens.

4. Iglesia San José

5.35 MILES

Originally constructed in 1751 and used as a jail for indigenous rebels in the late 1800s, this church was rebuilt in 1917 by Franciscan friars. The…

5. Casa Museo Comandante Carlos Fonseca


Commander Carlos Fonseca, the Sandinista equivalent of Malcolm X (read: bespectacled, goateed, intense, highly charismatic), grew up desperately poor in…

6. Cascada Blanca

5.47 MILES

Surrounded by forest, this impressive 15m waterfall a short walk from the highway fills a large deep swimming hole. When it's quiet it's absolutely lovely…

7. Foreigners Cemetery

6.03 MILES

Graveyard fans should check out both the Foreigners Cemetery (and nearby National Cemetery) on the eastern edge of town, where you'll find great views and…

8. Iglesia de los Angeles

8.67 MILES

This modern concrete church has a high, rectangular bell tower that looks at first glance like a water storage facility. It's a popular reference point…