Built in 1964 after damming the Tuma River, Lake Apanás is –as of today- the habitat of a variety of lacustrine Flora and Fauna. Therefore, this artificial body is on the List of Wetlands of International Importance -declared by the Ramsar Convention in 2001-. Besides it is also a source of employment for the surrounding communities and hydropower for the country, without forgetting the stunning natural beauty of the place that contributes to the gradual development of tourism in the area.
The Apanás is just minutes away from the city of Jinotega and 956 meters above sea level. Firstly, the lake was created to generate power after leading the water through a tunnel that ends in the Central hydroelectric plant, located in the department of Jinotega. However, the economic landscape has changed as its inhabitants have used it for their subsistence.
An example of this is that eight communities surrounding the Apanás live from fishing. Since the largest suppliers of water are rivers: Jigüina, San Gabriel, Mancotal, Lake of Asturias and a total of seven streams, the lake has species such as Tilapia, the “Guapote Lagunero” (Harrier Guapote), “Guapote Tigre” (Tiger Guapote), “Bagre” (Catfish), “Mojarra Picuda”, “Mojarra Colorada” (Red Tilapia), “Mojarra Pecho Rojo” (Red Breast Tilapia), and “Angila del Atlántico” (Atlantic Angila).
The inhabitants of the fishing communities only caught the first three mentioned species above, and sell them after being captured in the municipal markets of Jinotega and Matagalpa, the urban area of Estelí, at various collection centers and rural roads in the municipality.
Currently, localities that develop the fisheries and aquaculture activities, have no infrastructure or appropriate technology for this, but this economy is quite significant in the area. When visiting the lake, is common to see fishermen in their wooden fishing boats (very few of them have motor) moving with the help of oars and fishing with their nets in certain sections of the lake.
Tourism is an economic activity very early stage in the Apanás, despite its enormous potential. The area does not yet counts with the necessary facilities for receiving large groups of tourists, but it is possible to coordinate lodging for couples or small groups in homes of its inhabitants.
In addition, there are some providers of tourist services that offer boating on the lake, depending on the distance flown. Generally, the prices range are from $4 to $6. Another option is to rent a wooden boat and rowing alone to the nearest island, get off in its shores, take a bath, read or have a picnic. This provides greater privacy and independence to the visitor.
One of the busiest times in the lake is during the summer, as many locals visit the beaches to cool off. The rainy season, on the contrary, is a calmer period and may be a good opportunity to organize a tour of the different islands of this body of water, observe the marine flora and fauna, and rest on their shores.
In the area you can also organize horse riding and visits to other communities, but these activities are not as formal as the boat tours. Due to the presence of various migratory birds, birdwatching lovers find here a good place to observe different species of them.
Apanas is surrounded by roads, which makes it easy to reach its coasts and multiple locations. When traveling by private transportation, one has three options. The first one is the one that connects Jinotega with San Rafael del Sur, which is paved and in good conditions.
You find the second option while being on the first paved road, after you leave the city. You will be constantly headed to Asturias and will drive along one of the shores of the lake. The third option is also found while driving on the paved road, a little bit before reaching San Rafael, and it takes you to the town of Mancotal. It is not necessary to drive a 4X4 vehicle, but is not recommended to travel with a low car.
There are also buses that you can take at Jinotega. These ones pass by the communities that border the lake. You can take public transportation to San Rafael del Norte, Asturias, Mancotal o Pantasma.