In the far north of Nicuragua, 30 minutes from the border with Honduras is a little known spot offering stunning scenery and feelings of blissful serenity. The Somoto Canyon is a fine example of the natural beauty Nicaragua offers and is the main reason we came back after our trip to Belize. We found ourselves hiking, swimming, floating and leaping from the walls during our 6 hour tour.
Somoto canyon tours is run by Henry Sorioso and came highly recommended by three seperate individuals in three seperate parts of our travels to date. So when we landed back in Nicaragua this adventure was the number one thing we wanted to complete before moving on. We got in touch with the company via the english speaking phone number on their website and were greeted by a helpful english man called Brian. Brian confirmed our reservation and emailed us instructions on how to get there from Granada. We took a bus from Granada to Masaya, Masaya to Tipitapa and Tipitapa to Somoto. The whole journey took seven hours and every bus was a chock full chicken bus experience. For those of you unfamiliar with the chicken buses they are old american school buses (also used as prison buses) that get packed to the hilt with locals carrying all sorts of cargo. During the trip we were squeezed in next to shop owners transporting whole loads of new stock, a woman with a couple of live chickens, and one man who was travelling a two hour leg transporting a deep set 40 inch TV, while flirting at length with a female passenger. We finally arrived at Somoto station at 4pm where Brian and Henry had a taxi waiting for us.
We spent two nights at Henry’s homestay and the family vibe was so welcoming. We happened to arrive on Henry’s birthday which he shares with his son, and we were treated to cake and wine and had a blast watching the children all running around hyped up on sugar. Henry is one of nine and all his brothers and sisters are involved in the tour company in some way or another. The accomodation and food were very basic but the area has a very peaceful and pure feel to it. The little dusty country roads nearby are littered with smiley, curious locals eager to say hello. Brian has been coming back to work for henry six months a year for the last 20 something years and says there is something really special and magical about the place. He’s not wrong.
The tour for us began at 9am so we had plenty of time to eat a hearty local breakfast made by Henry’s sister and sort ourselves out before we got on the move. Our group was led by Henry’s brother Olvi and in total we were only five, so we felt like we were experiencing something really unique. Even though we all felt a bit chilly the three girls from the states and ourselves had so many laughs floating down the river in our lifejackets, dodging bats and spiders set loose on us by Olvi.
The 6 hour tour took us the entire length of the canyon and was the perfect length. We had loads of time to lay back and enjoy the natural beauty floating past us, take photos and I also had plenty of time to psych myself up for the cliff jumping! There is one part where you can climb up 20 metres to plunge into the river below but standing at the top looking down at the narrow canyon it feels like it’s a lot higher and A LOT more treacherous. Jumping from 10 metres was certainly enough adrenaline for me! Taking photos on a wet tour with my big camera was such a bonus, Olvi had a big dry bag and was happy carrying it the whole way. He also carried all of our water and snacks to minimise the complaining. Also, while I normally wouldn’t opt for a life jacket, it really made the tour a lot more relaxing. We were able to just lay back and completely relax, letting the river carry us along under the bright blue sky.
By the time we got to the end we were all shivering like crazy, but the giant flat rocks had been soaking up the days sunshine so we made like lizards and flattened ourselves out in the afternoon sun while we waited for our boat. Being paddled back down the river I was able to sit and contemplate what a great experience we’d just had. Nature has a way of re-energising the spirit and making my soul smile so with the lapping of the paddles my troubles were further melting away. To get back to Henry’s we had a 20 minute walk back up the hill and along the way Olvi pointed out the path to the lookout which Steve and I hiked back up to enjoy the sunset after lunch. All totalled the trip was 14kms but it didn’t feel far at all. Especially when you have a good guide and a great group of new friends to cackle the time away with.
We paid 600 cordobas ($26aud) per night for our accomodation, we had a basic but nice private room with a mosquito net and shared bathroom. That also included a free pick up from the bus station because the place is about a 15 minute drive away from town. For our six hour tour we paid 890 cordobas ($40aud) which included the boat, the guide and having your things looked after in a dry bag. If you’d like more info you can visit the Somoto Canyon Tours website to get in touch. As always these opinions are all mine, we didn’t get any freebies.