- Explore Nicaragua online

Community ecotourism and ornithological tourism in the department of Granada

Clementine Haudecoeur | Oct 19, 2015

Zapatera Island. | Photographer: Paul Hoekman

Rural community tourism in the area of the Biological and Archaeological Corridor Apoyo Lagoon – Mombacho – Zapatera.

The department of Granada, in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, has an incredible natural and cultural diversity which allowed it to become one of the most attractive touristic areas in the country. The historical richness of Granada and the fact that it has the Mombacho Volcano, 4 protected areas, islets, wetlands, different types of forests and about 800 species of birds, made the development of a responsible rural community ecotourism appear as a necessity. It became a priority to promote a form of tourism that would respect local culture and the environment.

Conscious about this reality, the Cocibolca Foundation designed a project to support the development of sustainable rural tourism in the Biological and Archaeological Corridor Apoyo Lagoon – Mombacho – Zapatera. This project was implemented as part of the initiative of the Colonial and Volcanoes Route (CVR), financed by the European Union and the Nicaraguan Government, executed by the Nicaragua Institute of Tourism, with technical support from the Cooperation Agency of Luxembourg (LuxDev).

With a total investment of 199,710.97 €, this initiative represents a significant progress in the development of community and ornithological tourism development in the area, as proven by the improvements realized in the following sites:

Zapatera Island:

left – Archaeological hall by Sayra Jarquín.In the community of Santa María, located in the Zapatera Island, an archaeological hall was built to preserve the culture and history of the area, but also for the protection of pre-Columbian sculptures. We invite you to visit this site because, apart from what you will observe and learn, you will be supporting the improvement of education quality for the children of that community as every fund recollected by the hall will be directly invested in educative material for the community school.

This community also has an old ranch from 1905 which has been transformed in the Hotel Santa María Ecolodge Spa, and offers possibilities of birds watching, hiking, swimming, kayaking, and visiting other islets. The project allowed the construction of a view point and two tracks for birds watching.

Posintepe Hill:

The Posintepe Hill (place with lots of stones in náhuatl), located in the metropolitan area of Granada, is a place of much historical and religious importance, as hundreds of people realize pilgrimage to the top of the hill every year.

In this area, the project included the construction of two viewpoints to enjoy the panorama to Granada, the islets and the Mombacho, 1 visitors’ center, 1 security house to better protect the tourists, improvement of the hiking tracks, resting areas and remodeling of a parking area.

Apoyo Lagoon:

Construction of the eco hostel Finca Laguna Azul in the community of Las Prusias, on the edge of the Apoyo Lagoon. From this site, two hiking tracks going around the crater were improved, offering an incredible scenic view to the tourists.

A biological station was also constructed to offer the necessary conditions to scientists and researchers who come to observe the diversity of the fauna and flora of the area.

Rural Communities:

right – Visitors’ center in Charco Muerto by Sayra Jarquín.Eventually, 3 eco-hostels were remodeled and equipped in order to stimulate community tourism.

The cooperatives which benefited from the project are those of:
- La granadilla, in the Granadilla rural community
- Nicaragua Libre, in the Nicaragua Libre rural community, and
- Claudia Chamorro, in Charco Muerto Community.

Those 3 hostels offer accommodations, traditional and international food services, as well as hiking and birds watching options.

It is important to emphasize that all the infrastructures listed have touristic guides which were trained as part of the project in order to have the necessary knowledge on ornithology, nature, history and culture, but also good knowledge of tourist services.

We also need to mention that the project received the support of the international organization Rainforest Alliance in order to train the different actor son good environmental practices such as water and energy protection, waste management, etc., and give them the certification, proving the quality of the service provided.

More information in Spanish about the project from the CVR here.