Esteli: the Tobacco Capital of Nicaragua!
Esteli is the largest city in the northern highlands area of Nicaragua. The city is the capital of the department of Esteli. It is considered the gateway to the Segovias and northern departments of Madriz, Nueva Segovia, Jinotega, Matagalpa and of course Esteli. It is about 148 kilometres north of Managua, on the Pan American Highway. Its relatively cool climate is due to its altitude, which is approximately 850 meters above sea level, (about 2,150 feet above sea level). Esteli is a bustling city of about 120,000 thousand souls, and the centre of an important agricultural hub, where tobacco and coffee play a very important role.
Esteli is locally known as “the Tobacco Capital of Nicaragua”. Many Cuban entrepreneurs that fled that nation after the communist revolution in 1959 came to Esteli Nicaragua and re-established themselves here. The Somoza regime, fiercely anticommunist, opened the doors of Nicaragua to the Cuban entrepreneurs. Many of them brought some of the Cuban tobacco seed that has made the Cuban cigars famous worldwide. There are several different cigar factories in Esteli that you can visit. This is without doubt one of the big attractions for tourists, who enjoy seeing this hand made product put together. They also make a great gift to take back home and give to your family.
The city itself is not particularly attractive. The different wars that took place in Nicaragua destroyed many of the old buildings in Esteli. However it is a great place to use as a base to discover many attractive places nearby, especially if you are interested in seeing how people live in a rural Central American atmosphere. The city is an important commercial hub to the area. Because of this, there are many different hotels, restaurants and bars that you can choose from. Of particular interest are the many murals you will see on the walls of the buildings throughout the city. There are also many art galleries and several museums you can visit. Esteli is famous in Nicaragua for its night life, which is the liveliest in the north central area of the country.
Tips for your visit to Esteli:
Nearby you can visit some natural reserves, such as Miraflor and El Tisey – Estanzuela. The cities of Matagalpa and Jinotega, both department capitals are also nearby. Visiting coffee plantations during the coffee picking season which goes from November through February.
A great source of information for things to do around Esteli is the Tree Hugger Information Center. They are part of a non profit organization that promotes sustainable tourism and helps integrate communities into the business. They can help you in a number of ways, from providing general information to helping you find a Spanish school or simply suggesting a hostel or tour to enjoy. They run their own hostels in Esteli and Matagalpa, called Luna Hostels.