After an overnight respite in Matagalpa last Saturday, Aaron and I headed further north to Macizo Peñas Blancas. Macizo means massif in Spanish. Peñas Blancas roughly translates to White Cliffs. I believe the national park is aptly named:
The ridge of cliffs is longer than that, and they all have that white face, which stands out from miles away among the green landscape.
Aaron and I went on the recommendation of my friends Thomas and Ilana, who each live about an hour away from the reserve. They have both worked with a research center and eco-lodge called Centro de Entendimiento con la Naturaleza (Center for Understanding of Nature), or CEN. We chose to stay there.
To get to Peñas Blancas we endured a packed three-hour bus journey from Matagalpa, followed by a one kilometer walk down a dirt road (the final hour of the bus ride was also along an unpaved road). Despite the semi-remote location they have running water and electricity. When I asked a worker/volunteer about Wi-Fi I was told, “We have other connections here,” with her arms spread outwards and her head looking upwards.
We had booked the dorm, but we were the only guests in it. It reminded me of The Pit at Camp. It is below a deck/dining hall and is full of bunk beds. It was clean and spacious though and I was happy that we chose the dorm.
We also found out that sometimes you can go through it:
The reserve is chock full of wildlife, including jaguars, sloths, monkeys, birds, snakes, frogs, and many rare species. We didn’t encounter any mammals except a scraggly squirrel but I think we saw a fair number of birds and creepy crawlies. I really enjoyed the hiking, the nature, and the views. The human race’s fascination for natural things is a very interesting philosophical topic that I think I want to research. Here’s a photo gallery of what we encountered on our two hikes:
One last thing I will mention about the trip is the food at CEN. It was excellent. I had the best squash mash I have encountered in Nicaragua, plus fresh whole grain pancakes and bread with fresh honey, along with tons of other great food. Aaron fell in love with tamarind and passion fruit frescoes while we were there.