Jinotega the Highlands of Nicaragua

Considered the northern region of Nicaragua, Jinotega, together with its neighbouring department of Matagalpa, are part of the mountainous north. This is a different Nicaragua that few visit. It offers a completely different and unique view of this lovely Central American country.

Jinotega borders to the north with the country of Honduras, and offers pine clad mountains. It has a fresh very cool climate that is ideal for the growth of coffee. In fact, most of the economy in the part of Nicaragua revolves around coffee plantations and processing plants. Some of the best coffee in Central America is grown here. The area has earned a good name for Nicaragua among coffee drinkers.

Getting to Jinotega

The elegant interior and altars at the Jinotega Cathedral building

The capital of the department of Jinotega is the city of Jinotega. It is easy to get to on a scenic road from Matagalpa. Follow the Pan-American Highway north from Managua towards Honduras. From Managua, there are regular buses leaving from the El Mayoreo Market (Mercado El Mayoreo) to the northern cities of Jinotega, Matagalpa, Esteli, etc. If you are planning on travelling on bus to this region, this is where you must go in Managua to catch your bus.

The highway is very good shape, as it is part of the Panamerican highway most of the way. From Managua, take the “northern highway” past the airport. Continue through the town of Tipitapa, over the river that connects Lake Xolotlan with Lake Cocibolca. Then continue to San Benito, where you will take the highway to the left to Sebaco and Esteli. When you reach Sebaco you will find the highway leading towards Matagalpa and Jinotega.

The lush vegetation at Jinotega’s Central Park

Jinotega is 35 Km north of Matagalpa (163 Km from Managua). The city is known as the “the Misty City”. This due to the clouds that roll in and cling on the high mountains that surround the city. This is due to its geographic location and altitude of 1003 meters above sea level. Jinotega does not have many buildings of interest; however it is a good spot from where to tour this area of Nicaragua.

The mountains around Jinotega have historically proven to be difficult battleground. The national hero, Augusto Sandino fought against the US army during their invasion to Nicaragua in the 1930’s. Despite their superiority, they could never catch him. He was famous for surprise attacks and then disappearing again into the mountains. Many battles where also fought in these mountains during the Sandinista revolution as well as the US backed contra war. The locals always won, as their knowledge of the mountains proved invaluable!

There are many different hotels in Jinotega, and most are quite basic. There are also several great restaurants in Jinotega to enjoy. This is one of the least visited areas in Nicaragua, but its weather offers a respite from the hot humid weather of the rest of Nicaragua. Although Jinotega is best known for its coffee farms, there are many different things to do in Jinotega that will make your trip there quite interesting.