Nicaragua’s National Parks System is Large!
Nicaragua has a variety of protected areas that are under the administration of the Ministry of Environment (Marena). They are administrated by the office of National Parks (SINAP for Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas) There are 71 protected areas in Nicaragua. The Cosiguina Peninsula was the first area to reach that status. This was back in 1958. It was given the status of Wildlife Refuge.
Since then, the national park system slowly grew into its current number of 71 protected areas. The largest of these areas are the Biosphere Reserves. Nicaragua boasts 3 of these reserves: the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve located in the RAAN (North Atlantic Autonomous Region); the Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve in the RAAS (South Atlantic Autonomous Region) and the department of Rio San Juan. Last but not least, and definitely the new kid in the block, the Ometepe Biosphere Reserve. The Ometepe Biosphere Reserve was established in 201o. The whole Island of Ometepe is part of this reserve.
The National Park System has several different titles to the areas. This indicates the specific protected status. The status includes Biosphere Reserves, Nature Reserves, National Parks, National Monuments, Nature Reserve and Wildlife Refuge.
The most visited protected areas in Nicaragua are the Parque Nacional Volcan de Masaya. It is halfways between Managua and Granada. Therefore only 20 km (12 miles) from either of these cities. The other area with a high visitation is the Mombacho National Park. This is very close to Granada and easily within 90 minutes from Managua. Both of these have an extensive trail system and professional guides to give you a tour of the area.
Most of Nicaragua’s protected land is in the Caribbean side of the country; however there are also several outstanding protected areas within the northern central area of the country, which is the most mountainous region of Nicaragua.