A 1-hour drive north of Matagalpa is the sprawling mountain town of Jinotega, otherwise known as the "City of Mists." With its low buildings of corrugated roofs and barn doors, it is not the prettiest of cities, but it has a rural authenticity that cannot fail to charm, especially when the mists roll down from the surrounding hills and envelop its cobbled streets. You'll find an Intur office (tel. 505/2713-6799) 1 1/2 blocks west of Iglesia de los Angeles with limited information on the area. Jinotega is a gateway to other mountain towns, such as nearby San Rafael del Norte, or to explore the highlands farther north, especially the 20,000-sq.-km (7,722-sq.-mile) rainforest reserve Reserva de Biosfera Bosawas. Access to this park is limited, however, as this really is off the beaten track and requires planning. The main reason to go to Jinotega is to enjoy the view on the way. The road from Matagalpa is one of the most breathtaking in Nicaragua, with mountain views that go as far as Momotombo Volcano in León.