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Rio San Juan

This wonderfully authentic corner of Nicaragua is marked by the Rio San Juan, a vast river weaving deep into the country before reaching Lake Nicaragua. Since its heyday in the 16th century, this infamous waterway has made its mark as an important trade route; heaving mercenaries, pirates and explorers along 120 miles of winding waters from the Caribbean Sea to the Spanish Main.

Today life is somewhat quieter on the river. Civilisation comes in the form of tiny riverside towns, dotted with colourful stilted fishermen’s houses along the riverbanks. There are still no cars here and everything comes and goes by river, ensuring Rio San Juan remains an important artery to the heart of Nicaragua.

Along much of its course, the river is bordered by the vast natural reserve of the Indio Maíz, more than 8,685 square miles of primary rainforest – much of which remains unchartered. Adventures into the jungle are a must for spotting sloths, iguanas, numerous species of birds and tree frogs no bigger than a thumbnail. It is in these wild parts that the distinction between sky, land and river becomes blurred as night falls and fireflies drift around like roaming constellations.

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