Around Granada

Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho

Volcán Mombacho is the dark, eternally brooding backdrop to Granada's pretty, colonial streets. Its green slopes are home to
fincas
(farms) at the lower reaches and a small but attractive cloud forest reserve higher up. Hardcore hikers may be disappointed by the three trails, sometimes inundated with tourists. Guides are obligatory on the hardest trail. An interesting possibility is a night hike to view the salamanders unique to the region. Two canopy tours also offer high-speed experiences of the
 
volcano;
 Mombotour and
Mombacho Canopy Tour
are both located well below the cloud forest zone.

Archipiélago Las Isletas

Scattered like a broken necklace over the waters of Lake Nicaragua, Las Isletas are a chain of 354 tiny, jewel-like islands. Formed by a violent volcanic eruption, the islands are fertile havens for arboreal and avian species, and some are inhabited by fishermen and small communities. Some have also been snapped up by local real estate agents and are now 'for sale' to rich foreigners. You can visit the Isletas as part of a tour, with boats departing from the lake shore at Puerto Assese, 3 km from the entrance to the Complejo Turístico, or from Marina Cocibolca . Perhaps the best way to experience the rich aquatic wildlife of the islands is at dawn, in a kayak.

Parque Nacional Archipiélago Zapatera

Home to the country's most important pre-Columbian sites, the 11 islands of this archipelago contain mysterious petroglyphs, a crater lake and wonderfully active ecosystems, including tropical dry and wet forests. Zapatera is the largest and most important site. A number of massive basalt statues have been recovered there and are now on exhibition in Granada's San Fransisco convent. It's best to visit the islands as part of a tour as
MARENA
are reportedly turning away unsolicited visitors. Use an agency in Granada or Managua, or contact
La UCA Tierra y Agua
, which can organize accommodation in rural communities.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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