Indio Maíz Biological Reserve
This 3,000 sq km (1,158 sq mile) reserve is home to a number of bird species, as well as jaguars, pumas and manatees. Of the 400 bird species that live here, the endangered great green macaw and great curassow are perhaps the most sought after.
On the south shore of Lake Nicaragua, this reserve has incredible populations of aquatic birds such as the roseate spoonbill and several species of kingfisher.
Isla El Zapote
Another reserve on Lake Nicaragua, this uninhabited island is home to thousands of birds. There are cormorants, herons and spoonbills, especially in April. A visit by boat is the best option, given the lack of infrastructure on the island.
Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
In the northeast of the country is this cloud and rain forest reserve, the largest protected natural reserve in Central America. Lodging options are few and far between and infrastructure is generally lacking, which is something to bear in mind if you’re looking for creature comforts.
Montibelli Private Wildlife Reserve
Just half an hour from the capital city of Managua, this reserve includes tropical dry forest and semi-deciduous tropical forest. Visitors come here to see 152 bird species such as parrots, hummingbirds and the turquoise-browed marmot, Nicaragua’s national bird.
Isla Juan Venado
For great mangrove birdwatching, head to this island on the coast near Leon. You can get around by boat or kayak, spotting pelicans, herons and the mangrove warbler. There are also olive ridley turtle nesting sites here.
El Jaguar Private Wildlife Reserve
At 1,350 metres (4,429 feet) above sea level, this reserve is covered in cloud forest. You can expect to see more than 50 species in one day here, and there are accommodation options available if you want to spend more time in the area.