An Insider's Guide to Exploring the Somoto Canyon

Somoto, Nicaragua
Somoto, Nicaragua | © Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock
Jack Guy

Near the Nicaragua-Honduras border lies an amazing natural feature that surprisingly few tourists take the time to visit. Here’s how you can explore the Somoto Canyon on your trip to Nicaragua.

Loved by over 40s
Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

What to expect

An adventurous experience which can involve hiking, swimming, and abseiling in the Somoto Canyon, depending on your tastes. The 3-kilometre (1.86 mile) long gorge drops 160 metres (525 feet) in altitude, and at some points is just 10 metres (33 feet) wide.

You can go on a hiking and swimming tour, with just 200 metres (656 feet) spent in the water, or embark on a 13-kilometre (8 mile) circuit over 6 hours in which you’ll jump off cliffs and boulder-hop down from bat caves to the river.

Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

Top tips

There are plenty of ways to see this beautiful canyon, so don’t be put off if you don’t want to do the more extreme stuff. There are many guided trips to the area, but you can even explore on foot by yourself if you don’t want to hire a guide. That said, you’re better off having a knowledgeable local by your side for the experience.

What to bring

Bring a dry bag for your valuables because certain sections can only be navigated by swimming. If you don’t have one, just bring water, sunblock and some sturdy shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.

River in Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

How to get there

From further afield, the town of Esteli is the first place to aim for. There are good bus links with Managua and Leon, as well as international services to Honduras and El Salvador. From here you’ll need to take a local bus to the town of Somoto, and then on to the village of La Playa. Walk ten minutes out of town and you’ll get to the canyon, and from there you just follow the river downstream.

What else to do in the area

The canyon is the biggest draw in the area, and most visitors move on swiftly to Leon, Managua or San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, or hop over to Honduras and El Salvador.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.