Saturday, May 4, 2013

Somoto Canyon, The Most Non-Touristy Tourist Destination in Nicaragua

When we crossed into Nicaragua we chose the route through El Espino. This took us right to The Somoto Canyon.  This limestone canyon, which the Rio Coco passes through, was relatively unknown by outsiders until just recently. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience this natural wonder before it got overrun by backpackers and international tourists.

As we approached the Somoto Canyon we saw a sign advertising tourist information.  We pulled into the village and a young man approached us.  We followed him to a mud-walled house, where we got information about a guided tour through the canyon.  We had hoped to do it ourselves, but as all tourist guides will tell you, "That is dangerous! You will get lost or hurt or ...". We talked the guy down from $20 to $15/person for the 5-hour guided tour. We parked in his yard for the night, which was the size of El Tigre. It was sweltering hot and we had nowhere to hang out except in the truck while we waited for night to fall.  The kids from the house and neighborhood set up camp about 10 feet away from the truck. They stared at the truck trying to get a glimpse of us inside all afternoon and evening. A little awkward.

The tour-guide family welcomed us into their mud-house for conversation.  The ceilings were about 8 feet tall, the floor was dirt, and their only furniture was plastic chairs. We decided that we would pay $20/person. These people needed the extra $10 more than anyone we have met.

The tour itself was fantastic. Since it was the end of the dry season, we worried that the water level was going to be too low, but it wasn't a problem. We hiked, jumped, and swam down the canyon where at times the walls were only 10 feet apart. Afterwards, we walked back to our truck.  We felt this was the best way to do it, rather than walking/swimming up the canyon - who wants to swim up stream?  We lucked out by passing the up-river village first. For anyone planning to do the Somoto Canyon, know that the "ranger" station and most of the tour guides are situated downriver. You will need to drive 3 km towards the Honduras border to find the up-river village (the sign says "Guias Turistico Tapacalli").

No comments: