This 184-hectare natural reserve, 30km outside Managua, is a small wilderness enclave within easy reach of the capital. Imagine: a hardwood forest, dense vegetation, and sheer cliffs anointed by two 25-metre waterfalls. El Brujo (The Warlock) disappears underground, while Chocoyero cascades down a cliff dotted with holes inhabited by chocoyos (parakeets). A walk to the falls and back takes an hour; the loop trail takes two. Follow the signposted bumpy dirt road from the turnoff south of Ticuantepe.
Apart from five kinds of chocoyo, the reserve is home to 113 other bird species, numerous reptiles and 49 species of mammals. You might hear rather than see the howler monkey, and spot the tiny capuchin monkeys in the canopy. Nicaragua's small cat species, the gato de monte and tigrillo, also live here, but they're nocturnal and difficult to see. It's well worth camping here if you have the time; it gives you the best chance of observing the parakeets as they exit their nests en masse around 5:30am and return in a noisy flock at around 4pm.