- Where to Go
- The Best of Nicaragua
- Nicaragua’s Best Surfing
- Hiking Nicaragua’s Ring of Fire
- Nicaraguan Arts & Crafts
- Nicaragua’s Great Green North
- Sportfishing in Nicaragua
- Down the Río San Juan
- Nicaragua’s Celebrations & Fiestas
- Volunteering in Nicaragua
- Diving & Snorkeling in Nicaragua
- Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour
The paddle trip in a kayak or canoe up the Río Istián is best early in the morning or during sunset but is worthwhile at any time. You slip into the still waters of a marshy isthmus deep with shadow from the tree canopy and raucous with the sounds of birds, all under the reflection of two volcanic peaks.
Caballito’s Mar (5 km from Santa Cruz, turn right at the signs and follow the dirt road to the lake, fernando [at] caballitosmar [dot] com, www.caballitosmar.com, tel. 505/2451-2093 or 505/2961-7296) rents kayaks by the hour and offers a fun three-hour guided trip ($20) in which they’ll point out the kingfishers, white herons, turtles, and caimanes (crocodiles). You can easily stay in their basic dormitory ($5 pp) or just have a meal (traditional Nicaraguan and lots of lake fish, about $3).
You can also rent kayaks at Hacienda Mérida or Charco Verde ($5/hr). Allow half a day for the adventure, and bring sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water. The shorter paddle to Isla el Congo, just offshore, is nice as well, but beware the monkeys!
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition