A deep and narrow canyon formed by the powerful Rio Coco, Central America’s longest river, Somoto Canyon National Monument offers thrilling excursions for adrenaline junkies and scenic views of northern Nicaragua’s remote territory. The protected area covers 420 acres (170 hectares), including a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) stretch of canyon.
Unparalleled adventure in a rarely visited portion of Nicaragua’s lush north rewards those who make the 3-hour drive to Somoto Canyon from Managua. Peer into the canyon on a hike, or ride horseback through fields of wild orchids and stop to explore the natural caves dotted along the rim. Scramble along the rocky riverside, cool off in secluded swimming holes, or join a guide for cliff jumps, rappels, and rock climbing. Be sure to pre-book a Somoto Canyon tour if you plan on taking any thrills, as uncertified guides often try to sell excursions at the park entrance.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Somoto Canyon is a must for adventure seekers.
- This is a rugged, off-the-beaten-path attraction, so visitors should be physically fit.
- Look for tours that include all transportation from Managua for the most convenient excursion.
- Some excursions include a visit to a local factory that makes rosquillas, a type of doughnut.
- Stick to the upper ridge for the best views of the canyon.
How to Get There
Somoto Canyon is located in Nicaragua just south of the Honduras border and nine miles (15 kilometers) north of the town of Somoto. Those traveling on public transit can take a bus from Managua to Somoto and then transfer at the bus station to a second line toward the Honduras border, while those with private transport can drive all but the last 1.2 miles (two kilometers) to the riverbank (unless in a 4x4 vehicle). The canyon is roughly a 2-hour trip from the closest major city of Esteli.
When to Get There
The Somoto Canyon is open all year, although closures are possible in October due to the rising water level of the river.
Somoto Canyon’s Discovery
A group of geologists researching the area discovered Somoto Canyon in 2004. It has quickly grown into a worthwhile destination for its beauty, protected status, many activities, and remote location.