It’s incredible to see that this huge, rich natural reserve is located only 30 minutes from Managua. Montibelli is a private reserve that measures more than 160 hectares. The reserve lies on Managua’s sierra and its altitude ranges from 360 to 720 meters above sea level. Most of the area is covered with tropical dry forest, and many different types of animals and plants inhabit the reserve.
What to expect
Montibelli has a very rich birdlife. Not only can you find woodpeckers, hummingbirds, parrots, vultures, hawks, golden orioles, and motmots (the national bird); the reserve is also inhabited by an impression population of trogons. These brightly colored birds are rare in Nicaragua and Montibelli is one of the very few places where they can be spotted easily.
Furthermore, you can encounter mammals, reptiles, and insects. There live opossums, bats, deer, howler monkeys, squirrels, snakes, frogs, lizards, and many other animals. During the raining season tons of butterflies flutter about. There are also some viewpoints from where you have a great view over the reserve and the rugged landscape around it.
The reserve has its own fruit and vegetable production. Pineapple, passion fruit, cactus fruit (Pitahaya), lemon, bananas, and other food is grown ecologically within the reserve. You can therefore get very fresh and uncontaminated juices and meals.
Montibelli also offers comfortable cabins, located within the reserve. For more information, see Eco-albergue Oropendola in our Hotel Guide.
The reserve has been set up well. There is a small tourist center at the entrance of the park, where you can get information on what you can see and where you can go. There are several paths to hike, taking between 30 minutes and 2 ½ hours. It is also easily possible to combine some paths and spend a whole day in Montibelli. Guides are provided by the reserve (you are obligated to walk with a guide), and they all have their specialty and will point out plants, animals, and other interesting things you would otherwise overlook.
To get there in car you should, coming from Managua, take the highway to Masaya (carretera Masaya). When you leave Managua and the number of lanes decreases, you should turn right in the direction of Ticuantepe (there are signs).
The entrance to reach the Montibelli reserve is at the km18 1/2 road Ticuantepe - La concha.
Passing the Park Juan Ramon Padilla (Ticuantepe) first street right hand, move forward one block, and then turn left , you will see a paving road and the you will reach a dirt road. Then, turn right on the path until you reach a limit, now turn left until you reach the enacal well of water. In front of the well is the entry on the right side, and from a 700 meters of distance si located the reserve.
You can also take a taxi or bus up to here, and hike or bike to the park. This can be dusty or muddy (depending on the season), tough, and exhausting, but it’s surely a nice way of getting there.
Jerry Baines wrote on Apr 20, 2016:
I would like to compliment the staff of Montibelli Private Wildlife Reserve for a most enjoyable 2 day, overnight visit with them. They are most hospitable, friendly and helpful without being overbearing.
I especially enjoyed the company of two different bird guides that were made available to me. They both were very knowledgeable of the birds in this preserve and always stopped to point them out as well as consulting our field guides. The pace that they set was well suited for me. And their grasp of English was very good regarding the English pronunciation of bird names. I enjoyed three very good hikes during my visit.
The private lodge chosen for me was most pleasant, clean and comfortable with a lovely porch overlooking a scenic valley. I was always given a choice of 3 meals to choose from and the staff was always considerate in allowing me to choose the times for meals as well as times for birding hikes.
Montibelli is less than one hour's drive south of Managua and up towards the mountains. The roads and direction can be a little challenging to get there but the taxi drivers from Managua seem to pull it off without very much difficulty.
This is my second visit to Montibelli and I have added nearly 60 new birds to my lifelist.
Give it a try if you are in Managua and may have a little extra time to spend birding.
Michael Luethi wrote on Oct 4, 2014:
I'm sorry, but we were a little bit disappointed. First it was difficult to find the place, because the Google Maps entry was wrong (I corrected it now). We nearly left at the entrance, because the parking was closed and nobody around. We only did a short hike to the Mirador and back, and they charged us each 5US$, which is a lot for what they offered. The hike was nice, but instead of 20-30 minutes as they said, it only took us about 10 minutes with our 3 year old son.
Gerald Baines wrote on Aug 31, 2013:
If you get an opportunity to go to Managua, be sure to plan at least a day trip to Montibelli for some fantastic birding. Plus a great Lunch if you have time.
Be sure to ask for Alejandro to guide you.
He's the best!
Rod and Pat Sein wrote on Mar 25, 2013:
We had a tremendous 2 days and 2 nights at beautiful Montibelli. We were treated to wonderful birdwatching on hikes and while sipping on our morning coffees ( painted buntings, baltimore orioles, black hooded trogon, long tailed manikin, elegant trogon, collared aracari, summer tananger, western tananger, motmots and many many more). Our guide Alejandro was amazing and we enjoyed his company so much.
Annet Olyhoek en Sicko Pijpker wrote on Jul 10, 2012:
Very nice stay and a very very good guide: Alejandro Cesar Lee.
Veronica Callan wrote on Apr 8, 2008:
Don't miss this beautiful nature preserve. The hosts are passionate, friendly and well-informed. We stayed only one night, but I hope to return soon. We had two very young children with us, and they were safe and well-entertained. The accomodations are comfortable and clean, and the food is the best in Nicaragua. Take the optional birding hikes and the rapelling adventure! You will not be disappointed!
Stephen Paez wrote on Dec 11, 2007:
Spent 3 nights with 5 other people. The place is beautiful, near Managua and Chocoyero, and has excellent birding for tropical deciduous forest species. The place also has a few species more typical of the atlantic rain forest. The food served was excellent, as were the hosts (Claudia and Carlos Belli). When we asked for an impromtu evening tour, they were accomodating and we witnessed a gallery of evening mammals, snakes and frogs. The guides, required for all tours, are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Being woken up in the morning by a chorus of tropical birds was unforgettable. Definitely recommend this place, especially for birdwatchers (also great for butterflies). My friends all left very satisfied and we all want to come back.
Erika Vohman wrote on Aug 25, 2007:
Im curious if you have Ojoche trees in your rainforest.
We have a program to rescue lost traditional knowledge about Ojoche seed for food and income, if you have this tree, we would like to train you and your staff to cook with the seed, which is more nutritious than soy!
We have published a cookbook with more than 40 recipes.
Vitsit our website if you want
Dina wrote on Jul 30, 2007:
beautiful place, DELICIOUS food, good service and nice guide!.
thanks, we had a great time.
Dina and Mark