The wild and undiscovered north is one of Nicaragua’s absolute insider tips and a must for all those who love to get to know a country on remote paths and in an authentic way. In contrast to the colonial Pacific coast, in the remote north of Nicaragua you rarely meet ‘Cheles‘ (white foreign tourists) and still get the chance to discover untouched nature, or meet indigenous cultures!
It is also not uncommon to see a horse rider with typical cowboy boots and hat galloping through the streets of Matagalpa, Estelí, Jinotega or Wiwilí. At the latest when loud ranchera music from the local pubs can be heard in the evening, one has the feeling of being in Mexico. The north is rough, wild and adventurous and offers a lot of unique activities.
The border to Honduras is not far away and is formed by the longest river in Central America, the “Rio Coco”. It has its source in the Somoto Canyon National Monument, runs through the world-famous UNESCO biosphere reserve BOSAWAS and crosses indigenous areas of the Miskito and Mayangna before finally flowing into the Caribbean sea. In the indigenous Miskito language, river is called ‘Wanki‘. This language is unique and beautiful and can hardly be surpassed.
The Miskito not only have their own language and their own way of life, but also their unique nature, which holds 7% of the world’s biodiversity. They are excellent fishermen and hunter, but most famous to mine gold in their traditional way without mercury. They exchange it e.g. for tools and food such as rice and beans, as they are not used to building up food reserves. Most of the Miskito live in small communities in harmony with nature, far from paved roads and stone houses. Contrary to our western economic thinking, they are not interested in always optimizing everything or increasing profits. For them it is much more important to preserve their own culture and way of life, which is why they often close themselves off.
There is hardly a more impressive and adventurous tour in Nicaragua than to visit the Miskito region, which is at least two days river down from Wiwilí. The infrastructure is poor, the path is very demanding, not without dangers and therefore only very few people did that before. But if you have ever been there, you will be overwhelmed by the boundless biodiversity, the endless forests and the untouched nature. This makes Nicaragua unique and to a real once in a lifetime experience!
The remaining population in northwest Nicaragua, usually lives from its world-famous and excellent arabica highland coffee, as well as from cocoa, tobacco and livestock farming. The coffee grows in semi-shade on fertile volcanic soil over 1000m above sea level and is gently harvested by hand. The cultivation of organic coffee is widespread because it protects the local ecosystem and also generates noticeably more income.
One of the most memorable experiences is living for a while on a coffee finca together with the local worker and actively supporting them in the coffee harvest. This is by far the best way to understand the local culture and also learn about the difficult living conditions of the people. You will certainly return richer in life experience than you ever dreamed of. It is exactly these personal moments that make Nicaragua so special and incomparable. The people are incredibly friendly, welcome you with warm hospitality and let you participate in their personal lives. You will appreciate many things of everyday life again and understand what really matters in life! Furthermore, what else is better than knowing with a clear conscience where your lovely morning coffee at home comes from! 😉
Ready for the next adventure? Then pack your bags and discover the far north of Nicaragua..