San Carlos is the main town that connects the Río San Juan region with the rest of Nicaragua. Boats from Granada and Costa Rica (Río Frio), planes from Managua, and vehicles from the north through the city of Juigalpa all reach this port town. Many San Juan journeys therefore start in this town. This consequently makes it also an excellent point to start a kayak adventure!
The San Carlos-Sábalos trip is the most common downriver journey from San Carlos, because the small town of Sábalos is the first real town encountered along the river. This part of the river is well-traveled by boats so paddlers can expect quite a few passing public transportation and private boats, but the natural tranquility of the San Juan river still dominates. On this part there are large numbers of birds including cormorants, anhingas, swallows, kingfishers, egrets, herons, and roseate spoonbills. The forest on the river shores has been mostly cut, but there are still forested parts that provide for impressive panoramas.
The distance of 43 km is not to be underestimated by novice paddlers. Leaving early and undertaking a nearby trip to practice a day before starting the journey are recommended steps to take. There is fortunately a compensating downstream current that makes things a bit easier.
This activity is one of the many kayak journeys that can be undertaken in the San Juan River. It could be a great daytrip, or this could be part of a multiday journey. To learn more about the kayak journeys at the San Juan River, use the menu to the right.
You can read more about kayak options at the San Juan River here.
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