A Real Adventure: Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

Yesterday we awoke to the many sounds of city life in Esteli, Nicaragua.  Music blaring, children screaming, roosters crowing and cars honking are your alarm clock in Esteli, but all that didn’t matter.  We were excited to be up early because we were going to Somoto Canyon.  

As I later found out, Elisha and I had completely different expectations of our day. She thought we were going on a walk along a river that had a nice place for a swim and some good places for pictures. I thought we were getting strapped into life jackets and sent down a raging river canyon.  Maybe we should talk more because if either of those things had come true one of us would have been very unhappy. 

The guide books tell you that Somoto Canyon was relatively unexplored until a group of Czech scientists stumbled across it in 2004. They claim that it was formed 5 – 13 million years ago. With a built in margin for error like that and no way to prove them wrong, who can argue? Ever since the Czechs found this little gem it has been visited by increasingly larger groups of tourists each year.

The tour itself varies greatly depending on the time of year you visit. Due to the fast and high waters that come during rainy season the canyon is completely closed to the public for these few months of the year. In December my version of the tour may have been the reality and in May at the end of the dry season Elisha’s version may have been closer to reality.  This time of year it is in between.  

We did actually walk alongside part of the river, but we also walked in the water and swam down more sections than naught.  

There were  even a couple areas where the river narrowed enough that we actually had to climb up on the rocks and jump off into the next pool of water.

One particular section gave you the option of climbing between 4 and 40 feet to jump into the next pool.  I jumped from all of the available options, except the 4 footer, that was reserved for Elisha. My ass is still pretty sore from my first jump from 40 feet.  I landed a little too far back and the water felt like concrete.  Unfortunately when Elisha attempted to put the camera on burst shooting she put it on timer instead and completely missed my 1st jump.

Her tune turned from,

“Don’t jump from there!” to “Go do it again, so I can take a video!”

The water was much warmer than any Canadian could envision a river to be, but after a few hours Elisha was getting cold.  There were  three different tour options available.  We took the mid-length option (a 3.5 hour route) which was just enough to make you feel like you earned, it without totally wiping you out.

Our guide, Fausto had a waterproof case for our camera, snacks and Tona.  All of which we needed during our frequent rest stops and photo ops. 

The views were amazing and at one point Elisha could take pictures of Honduras.  For me the water sport was enough to keep me happy. Somoto Canyon was a great tour that fulfilled both of our expectations, without actually being what we expected.

About In Nica Now

We're Gordon and Elisha. A Canadian couple living a relaxed life in the colorful beach town of San Juan del Sur. If you're looking for information on life & travel in Nicaragua you've come to the right place!

Posted on February 26, 2012, in Sights & Activities and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wow, that’s impressive! Hard to say if I would jump off that cliff but probably not. There must be so many fun things to do and explore in Nic. Glad to hear / see that you are having the time of your lives.

  2. Hi Guys,

    I just came through your blog doing research on the Cañon.

    I also live in Nicaragua and I got friends coming next week and i wanted to take them to the Cañon de Somoto also. Your pictures look great!

    I did some research and I read something about different ways through the Cañon…and that you would have to jump the 40ft if you take that particular path. That is not correct is it? Is it possible to check it out first?

    Which tour organization did you guys use?

    I can’t wait to go there and check it out. It’s on my list awhile now.

    Thanks a lot!
    Saludos de Playa El Coco :o)

    • Hi Luise,

      We drove to the entrance of the canyon in our truck and chose one of the tour guides on the road to escort us.

      The route we took did not require a 40 foot jump off a cliff. There was however a 10 foot jump, but if you were uncomfortable doing so you could slide off the side into the water.

      Our guide told us the tours do not operate year round as sometimes the water is too high and too fast.


  3. Hi Elisha,

    Thanks for your quick response! That sounds easy.

    Thank you so much for your help.


  1. Pingback: A Road Trip to Esteli « In Nica Now

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