A Guide to Visiting the Rio San Juan Nicaragua

We cruised down the river to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. Emerging from the jungle towards the small town of San Carlos, we instantly felt the vibe of a new country.

The Rio San Juan was the first stop on our trip through Nicaragua en route to Omepete Island. This was a part of Nicaragua we were quite excited about seeing.

San Carlos Nicaragua

San Carlos is a small fishing and port town. If arriving by boat,  you will complete a final customs clearance here after an initial military stop on the actual river halfway from Los Chiles.

Boat From San Carlos to El Castillo

We finally made our connecting boat to El Castillo the next morning. A small town on the Rio San Juan close to the nature reserve of Indio Maiz. Boats leave San Carlos all day down the river.

El Castillo Nicaragua

El Castillo is instantly recognisable by the fort sitting high on the hill over the village.  The village is very small and comprises mostly of one street facing the river with houses, restaurants and businesses perched on stilts over the river rapids.

Accommodation in El Castillo

You will find similar accommodation as in San Carlos. Very simple guest house style hotels, both clean and very friendly. There is little or no WIFI to speak of and only a few hotels have hot showers and/or air-conditioning.

Tours of the Rio San Juan and Indio Maíz Biological Reserve

We wandered around town looking at various options for tours of the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve and the river.

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