Somoto Canyon Adventure Guide
Somoto Canyon Adventure Guide
Oh, our Somoto Canyon Adventure. We didn’t even know about this until about four months into our stay here, and actually planned on skipping it until last minute. Thank goodness we didn’t!! Up in the northern mountains of Nicaragua exists the Grand Canyon of Central America that lay “undiscovered” until 2004. The local people have known about the canyon for much, much longer but to the rest of the world, it’s brand spanking new. Because not many people know about Somoto Canyon, this beaut isn’t crowded and has authenticity many tours lack.
We went through the Soriano family of Somoto Canyon Tours for our tour, and they made the experience amazing. The staff was so extremely nice and helpful and wanted everyone to have an amazing time. The Soriano tours have multiple primitive cabins for guests to sleep in, and meals at an extra cost. Local beer, soft drinks, and filtered water are available on the property. Their meals are all sourced by local organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, and are prepared by local cooks for a true authentic Northern Nicaraguan experience. In our two days of staying there, we didn’t have a bad meal once! There’s also a yard full of animals that are quite amusing. Cats, dogs, and even turkeys roam the grounds.
Henry Soriano, the man in charge, created his tour agency as a way to regularly employ local young men. The tour agency has since used portions of the profits to support community programs, and the sense of community involvement is obvious while staying with him and his family. This entire experience was a great representation of responsible tourism, and this concept is something that travelers should try to support as often as possible!
We woke up in the morning headed to the mouth of the Coco River to begin our tour. There are different tour options available but we went for the 6 hour, full adventure option. The other options available are a 4 hour tour and a short 2 hour tour. Technically tour guides aren’t necessary but I would highly recommend one. There is no way we would have been able to navigate the river by ourselves! The mouth of the river has a shore at first, but a little ways in the canyon walls start to rise. This is when the fun starts as you start to swim through the water. If you’re not awake before you get in the water, the temperature will wake you up quickly! We jumped right in, and swam a little way downstream until the shorelines opened up again.
For a little while it’s possible to walk on the shore, but pretty soon the walls start to gain height. The benefit of having a guide at this point was his water proof bag that held our belongings, and his knowledge of where the river was deep enough to cliff jump! I had never cliff jumped before, but after my first jump I couldn’t get enough.
As the river winds through canyon walls that tower over you, the water turns a beautiful emerald green color. There are cliff jumping spots throughout the tour, some higher than others (and all optional if that’s not your thing!). The gnarled rock faces of the walls are beautiful as you swim between them gazing up at the sky. As you reach a break in the canyon, you clamber on to rocks to an awaiting paddle boat. On the backside of the 50 Cordoba bill, is the picture of this location!
What looked like a 14-year-old boy rowed us down the river, eventually delivering us to the hike that took us back to the Soriano Farm. We were able to climb in some elevation and look down at the canyon that we had just swam through. When people think of Nicaragua they don’t often think of canyons and mountains, but we can attest to the beauty they have!
We arrived back at the farmstay, where we were greeted with a fresh lunch and a cold drink. It was the perfect way to end our Somoto Canyon Adventure. We ended up deciding to stay another night due to the wonky bus schedules in the area. It was a great night with fellow travelers drinking Tonas and swapping travel stories. Up early the next morning, we caught a brightly painted bus that whisked us off towards the next mountain town. While our entire stay in the north mountains was unforgettable, this truly was the experience that topped them all!
Located a short distance from the Honduras border, you’ll have to catch a bus from the El Mayoreo bus station to Somoto. Somoto is a tiny town that doesn’t have much lodging or tourism besides the Somoto Canyon adventure, so I would contact a tour agency/hotel before to arrange a pickup.
Every penny we spent on the tour was extremely worth it. On our second night there, a local group of men all brought their instruments to the Soriano farm and played music and sang well into the night. We met multiple expats who had lived in Nicaragua for long periods of time, and EVERYONE told us this was the must-do activity. I’m so glad we made it up to the Somoto Canyon, even if it was a bit of a hike.