Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela – Hiking

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Less frequented than Reserva Miraflor is Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela, also located outside of Esteli. Trails within the expansive forest offer views of Honduras and El Salvador, as well Leon and Chinandega’s volcanoes. On a clear day, the lookout point, Mirador Segoviano, affords a panoramic view of the Valley of Esteli, the volcanoes of Los Maribios, Lake Nicaragua and all the land up until the Gulf of Fonseca. In addition to hiking, visitors can visit La Ecoposada el Tisey, a farm that has been owned and run by the Cerrato family for four generations. The farm covers 70 acres, 30 of which are maintained as a rain forest reserve. Cabins with private bath can be rented for $11 per night and dorms with outhouse access for $3.50. Typical Nica food is served, and crafts are for sale. Although Ecoposada advertises guides and tours of coffee and produce cultivation, Tisey doesn’t get a whole lot of visitors, so they aren’t always prepared. For information about visting Ecoposada El Tisey call Liliam Cerrato Jiron: 713-6213 cell 835-7044,

A several kilometers walk from Ecoposada is La Garnacha, a community known for its goat cheese, made from an old Swiss recipe. At the entrance of the community there is a small souvenir shop and tourism office from which guides can be arranged. On the weekends, when there isn’t farm work to be done, you might also be able to rent horses. Across the street is a restaurant offering cheap local fare. San Nicolas-bound buses leave at 6:30 am (and return at 8 am) and at 1:30 pm (and return at 3 pm). A 40-minute ride takes you to Rancho San Luis, a five kilometer walk from La Garnacha. You can contact Yadira Moreno at 713-7785 before visiting La Garnacha.

Perhaps one of the wackiest features of Tisey is Alberto Gutierrez, an eccentric recluse who lives in Cerro Jalacate. A self-taught sculptor, he carves animal themed reliefs into the cliff-face overlooking his house. He’s very talkative for a hermit and can tell you about his work and the area.

The main reason people usually visit Tisey is to languish in Salta Estanzuela, a 36-meter waterfall that feeds into a small, refreshing (read: icy) swimming hole. Travellers can sunbathe on the pebbly shore and those that are lucky might even have the whole place to themselves. As it’s located on the outskirts of the reserve, this is the most accessible attraction in Tisey and easily makes a morning jaunt from Esteli. There is a $1 entrance fee. To get there, take the Estanzuela-bound bus from Esteli’s Cotran Sur or take a cab to the hospital and walk five kilometers southwest to the reserve.

As transport to and around Tisey is dicey, it might be a good idea to contact FIDER, an agricultural development agency, before setting out. FIDER sells maps and can help arrange tours. FIDER’s Esteli office is located a half block west of the Petronic station. They can be reached at 713-3918 or

Although it is not far from Esteli, Tisey is considerably colder, so bring extra layers. Also bring food and water, as they are not widely available, and the unpredictability of transport means you can spend longer at the reserve than planned (particularly if you’re dependent on hitching a ride –which is sometimes the best way to get around).


Location: Esteli, Nicaragua

Hiking Types: Hike

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

Currencies accepted: Nicaraguan córdoba



Here are other activities in and around Esteli that may be of interest: Reserva Natural Miraflor

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