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The impressive Rio San Juan flows from the town of San Carlos on Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean coast and was used as a natural canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for centuries, giving it immense commercial importance and a turbulent and fascinating history.

Columbus traveled the river on his voyage of discovery; Henry Morgan used it to sack Granada, Horatio Nelson and Napoleon fought the Spanish for the river and Mark Twain wrote of its beauty and wildlife during the US gold rush.

Reserva Biologica Indio-Maiz

The completion of the Panama Canal in 1913 contributed to the region's commercial failure and today Rio San Juan is becoming an ecological success story with the magnificent Reserva Biologica Indio-Maiz at its heart. The reserve is one of the largest in Central America and is often likened to a mini Amazon with the towering canopy home to exotic birdlife and troops of howler monkeys. It protects more than 600 species of tropical birds and 200 species of mammals spread over a million hectares of land.

This is an ultimate destination for adventurous travelers looking to explore one of Nicaragua’s least-known and little-visited regions.

This area is by far the best place to observe wildlife in Nicaragua but accommodation is basic at best. We are closely monitoring any new ecolodge developments.

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Map of Rio San Juan

Places & hotels on the map

    Places in and around Rio San Juan

    Accommodation choices for Rio San Juan

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Rio San Juan. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.