A series of human footprints preserved by volcanic ash, the Footprints of Acahualinca serve as reminder of the early civilizations that lived in what today is Nicaragua’s capital, Managua. The Acahualinca archaeological site and museum showcases these fossilized footprints and teaches us about the people who left them behind.
A no-frills structure on the outskirts of Managua houses the original Acahualinca footprints, which are anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. The fossilized footprints have wowed history lovers since construction workers discovered them in 1874 and Nicaraguan researcher Jorge Espinoza excavated and found more footprints in 1978. Though the footprints themselves are the museum’s main attraction, other displays contain artifacts from Nicaragua’s ancient civilizations, including pottery shards, pre-Columbian tools, and a skull from León Viejo. Make the most of your visit by taking a guided tour, which explains the significance of the sparsely marked artifacts. For a full day of cultural immersion, look for tours that include the museum as part of a guided Managua city tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The ancient Footprints of Acahualinca are a must-see for history buffs.
- The museum is a kid-friendly attraction ideal for families.
- Plan to spend less than an hour at the museum.
- The footprints can be visited by those with limited mobility, as they are viewed from street level. Visitors peer over short walls to see the footprints down below.
How to Get There
The Acahualinca site, located on the outskirts of Managua, is best reached by taxi. Most taxi drivers will know where the site is, and museum staff can help you get a cab when you are ready to leave.
When to Get There
The museum is open weekdays from 8am to 5pm and weekends from 9am to 4pm. Call ahead to confirm opening times.
Legend has it that the ancient footprints belong to a group of about 10 people fleeing a volcanic eruption, though more recent research reveals a less exciting story. It is more likely that the people were walking, probably on their way to gather food and water from Lake Managua.