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Greenfields Nature Reserve

Greenfields is a private nature reserve that offers excellent jungle excursions and canoeing trips in the surrounding pristine wilderness. The lush, tropical Swiss-owned property has 25km (16 miles) of hiking trails, lodgings, and ample opportunities to canoe through jungle waterways. There is a botanical garden, bathing pier, and rustic lodge, as well as abundant wildlife such as caimans, otters, and elusive jaguar. The reserve can be seen in a 1-day trip from Bluefields that costs approximately $30 for one or two people, or you can choose to stay the night for $100 (price varies with group size). Contact the owners of the reserve at tel. 505/2278-0589 or 505/8434-4808, or visit www.greenfields.com.ni for info.

Pearl Lagoon

This small, peaceful village and lake is 1 1/2 hours away from Bluefields by boat and is a lovely, relaxing antidote to the shabbiness of that town. Five jungle rivers pour into this gorgeous estuary, surrounded by rainforest, mangroves, savanna, and pine forests. The town is a neat collection of sandy streets, a lakeside dock, and a beautiful church. The region has a rich mix of Afro-Caribbean and Miskito people. North of the lake is a village called Orinoco, which is the most southern settlement of the Garifuna people, a proud tribe with strong West African roots. November 17 to 19, there is an annual Garifuna festival, celebrating their culture with drumming, dancing, and singing. Pearl Lagoon village has a variety of lodgings and is often used as a base to explore the paradise-like archipelago known as the Pearl Cays. Here, you'll find 18 tiny islands 6km (3 3/4 miles) east of the coast, each crammed with vegetation and circled by sparkling white beaches. There is little or no tourist infrastructure, so bring lots of water and food. To arrange tours of the Cays (pronounced keys), try the Casa Blanca Hotelito y Restaurante (Barrio May 4; tel. 505/2572-0508). These are also the best accommodations in town, with bright, clean rooms and a decent restaurant. Prices range from $10 to $30. Another good, if very basic, lodge is Green Lodge Guesthouse, 1 block south of dock, beside Enitel (tel. 505/2572-0507). Here, a tiny room goes for $15, and the owner also arranges tours of the area.

How to Get to Pearl Lagoon -- Pangas leave for the lake and village each day regularly (as soon as they fill up), but it is advisable to go to the dock in Bluefields as early as possible (the first leaves at 6am, with another one soon after). There is much less activity on Sundays. The trip itself is beautiful, since it takes you up the Río Escondido and through a maze of streams and waterways filled with wildlife. The fare is C120 one-way.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.