Exploring Rio Manares Nature Reserve: A Gem for Community Tourism

December 15, 2023
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Nestled just south of the Mombacho Volcano in Nandaime, the Rio Manares Nature Reserve of Aguas Agrias is a hidden paradise. Spanning 301 acres, it’s a stunning showcase of crystal-clear waters and diverse flora and fauna, leaving a lasting impression on tourists. Upon arrival, visitors are warmly greeted by women from the cooperative, paying a nominal fee of 10 Nicaraguan córdobas (children under 6 free) or 2 dollars for foreigners. The reserve offers ample parking with guaranteed security, open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Preparation for the Visit Guests are advised to come prepared, as no food services are available onsite. Essentials include homemade food, snacks, drinks, extra clothes, swimsuits, towels, and water. Comfortable clothing and footwear are recommended for the 1-kilometer trek to the destination, made enjoyable by bamboo steps, handrails, and towering trees.

Natural Beauty and Activities The reserve’s transparent waters, reminiscent of Ojo de Agua in Ometepe, astonish visitors. The tranquility, marked by the sounds of water, bird songs, and howling monkeys, adds to the charm. It’s part of the UCA Tierra y Agua R.L, offering various community tourism activities.

Healing Waters and Future Plans The waters, originating from the volcanic Manares River, are known for their curative properties, attributed to sulfur and other elements. Future plans include expanding the swimming area, adding food services, constructing kiosks, and providing lodging.

Wildlife and Local Agriculture The area is home to monkeys, ducks, herons, squirrels, and birds, with local communities engaged in growing beans, corn, and plantains. The reserve, a key natural resource, is maintained by 22 families of the Miguel Castro Siles cooperative, committed to sustainable practices.

Community Tourism Initiatives Since 2005, the cooperative has focused on developing community tourism to improve their economic situation, relying on traditional farming. Projects include creating natural ponds for more tourists, building bathrooms, and setting up cooking facilities.

Challenges and Opportunities Despite no public investment, the cooperative members have made significant strides. However, they face financial challenges in expanding infrastructure and services. The COVID-19 pandemic further impacted their tourism income.

Peak Season and Visitor Engagement Easter is the busiest season, with local women offering meals despite lacking formal training and infrastructure. The reserve, promoted through social media and flyers, attracts over 8,000 tourists annually, including international visitors.

Rural Tourism Potential and History The area offers tours of plantain plantations and basic grain crops, with families originally from northern Nicaragua, having resettled here due to historical conflicts.

The Journey and Future Aspirations The journey to Aguas Agrias itself is scenic, with beautiful landscapes along the Mombacho Volcano. The community, committed to enhancing the visitor experience, hopes for future improvements to fully realize the area’s tourism potential.

Article Categories:
Parks and Nature

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