Jinotega is known as the "City of Mists", due to the magnificent wisps of cloud feathering the place as high as 1,010 m. The name Jinotega, according to linguists derives from "xiocahuilt", meaning "jiñocuabo" (tree existing in the city) and "tecatl", meaning "inhabitant or neighbor".
The city is located in a valley of cool climate of 25 - 27° C, with normal extremes of 13° and 33° C. It is surrounded by the Dariense Isabelia mountain ranges.
Between 1926 and 1927, the department was the scene of fighting between US troops and anti-imperialist fighters led by Augusto C. Sandino, known as the "war of banditry." In May 19, 1979, the Final Offensive of the Northern Front of the Sandinista National Liberation forces under Carlos Fonseca Amador began. It defeated the despotic regime of Somoza Debayle. In 1981, the department's mountainous area was the scene of many bloody battles in the civil war between the CIA-trained Contras and the national army, representing the Sandinista-led government.
Since the area around Jinotega produces 65% of the country's coffee harvest the city is said to be "the coffee capital" and is known for its high quality coffee that is mostly exported. Cocoa is also harvested in the northeast of the departamento.
When to visit
In December to February it is the coffee harvest season. You will see trucks moving in and out of the city on the north side, men hauling coffee in on their backs in a frantic scurry. Compared with cities like Managua and Chinandega, which can be very hot throughout the year, Jinotega's climate is relatively pleasant due to its elevation.
The weather is great from November (end of the rainy season) until May, when it begins to rain sporadically. After this, the rainy season really begins.
- From Managua it takes about 3 hr on the direct buses that run several times a day. If taking a taxi, ask for bus terminal Mayoreo or simply for the terminal from where the Jinotega buses leave. At the Mayoreo terminal in Managua, there is a counter where you can purchase your tickets to Jinotega. Bus fare is C$82 (córdobas). The expressos are nice because they make fewer stops and you don't have to change buses in Matagalpa.
- There are frequent services between the main terminal in Matagalpa and the Southern terminal in Jinotega.
- Service from Estelí to the Northern terminal in Jinotega is infrequent. It might be easier to get on a bus to San Rafael del Norte and change there.
Take the NIC-3 or NN-74.
Leaving the city of Managua you will be taking the NIC-1 motorway to reach the right take highway Sebaco NIC-3 continued NN74 find two highways (arrives in 30 minutes) and if it continues with the NIC-3 came in 1 hour passing by Matagalpa.
If you take the NN74 observe that you are winding down a slope which will continue up to the entrance of the city in which observed the valley town, down a slope and observed a police checkpoint in an interception where there is a left wing street to get to the city center, exit and if you continue straight on the road to climb a slope curves with another interception find where you take the left highway NIC-3 (or NIC-3 highway right to the city of Matagalpa) to take him to the center of the city of Jinotega (and output to their municipalities, the lake and the city of Esteli arrived in 3 hours). On your way down a slope into the valley of Jinotega and observe their surroundings Jiñocuabos trees and also a view of the city, continuing to find another interception, if you take the left will take you to the city center and the exit and if making the right motorway is the NIC-3 will take you to the central supply and output to the municipalities, the lake, the city of Esteli.
Leaving the city of Managua you will be taking the NIC-1 highway, through venues: Tipitapa, Ciudad Dario, to reach the right decision Sébaco NIC-3 highway highway there continue straight and then see that going up in a curved slope where you can see the valley from there, to continue you will encounter two highways: NN74 and NIC-3.
If you take the left highway NN 74 be there in 30 minutes in the city, continue to observe a valley in which there is another highway that you take to the left called NIC-3 which takes you directly to the city.
If you take the highway right NIC-3 is longer have to go through the city of Matagalpa, follow the road and then take the left highway provided by NIC-3 to the city of Jinotega and will be in 1 hour.
Taxis are common and cost C$10 (US$0.35) per person anywhere in town. Fares are around C$35 at night. It's best to agree on a price before you get in the cab, Jinotegans love to change their mind. But on the whole they are a very friendly bunch. It is very safe to walk around Jinotega even through some of the shabbier looking areas, don't be scared just give a big smile out, you'll be fine. Jinotega is a great place to explore.
In the city of Jinotega
- Municipal Museum of Jinotega, 1ra. Calle Noroeste, next to the library. Presentations of archeology, history and antiques.
- Church of Our Lady of the Angels (Nuestra Señora de los Angeles), near the school La Salle.
- Catedral San Juan Bautista, Av. Central.
- Central park, with track for skateboards and connection to wifi, which is in front of the museum, library, the mayor's office, hotels, restaurants, university, social club and San Juan Cathedral.
- 1 Peña de la Cruz (on the west end of town). Cross placed by Spanish friar Margil de Jesus in 1703, with a path of many pilgrims who fulfill promises to La Santa Cruz. Access the path at the base of Peña de la Cruz within Jinotega where there is a cemetery and continue along the cobbled access to reach the top in about 30-60 minutes, where fine views of Jinotega and surrounding mountains await.
In the municipalities of the department of Jinotega
- 2 Tepeyac Church (in San Rafael del Norte). where General Augusto C. Sandino married Blanca Aráuz and served the pastoral work of the Servant of God Fray Odorico D'Andrea. Also you will find a church on top of a hill where there is a sarcophagus with the remains of a native saint of Italy: Friar Odorico D'Andrea.
- 3 Museo General Augusto Nicolas Calderón Sandino. M-F 8AM-Noon, 2PM-5PM, Sa 8AM-Noon. Museum about the guy/folk hero.
- El Jaguar, ☏ . a private cloud forest reserve venture.
You can join the locals in town for gyms, or karaoke or play a game of soccer or baseball fields or stadiums.
- Fiesta de la Cruz on May 3, a festival that has been carried on for three centuries, that includes a pilgrimage to the top of Pena de la Cruz and imbibing the famous local drink Agualoja, a type of corn wine.
- Apanás Lake, a reservoir about 5 km north of the city (20 minutes drive) with fishing and boating options.
- 1 Canopy Tour La Brellera (about 5 km north of San Rafael del Norte on Hwy 3), ☏ . a zipline course you can indulge in, upright or inverted, however you choose.
Hiking and Ecotourism
- Nature Reserve Neblinas Cerro Datanlí - The Devil - coffee farm and cloud forest tours, with Santa Maura and the La Bastille ecoresort and Hidden Paradise agricultural school nearby. Witness flowers in the mist and learn about the cultivation of coffee, called the "green gold".
- More ecotourism in "La Fundadora" and La Finca Vida Joven located on the Jinotega - Matagalpa road.
- Farm holidays in Santa María de Pantasma.
- Nature reserve "Yalí" Volcano, north of San Rafael del Norte.
- Bosawás Reserve, a Biosphere Reserve declared by UNESCO with six areas including the "Peñas Blancas" Massif (white cliffs).
- La Bujona waterfall and hiking at the Cerro Kilambé (Wiwilí) Nature Reserve near the town of Kilambe.
Of all of the places in Nicaragua to do volunteer work, Jinotega is perhaps the most worthy. Due to its problematic history Jinotega has suffered through a serious decline in infrastructure. Jinotega is a place largely forgotten by the outside world.
- Association of Volunteers for the Development of Communities (AVODEC) (About 4 blocks north of the Esso Central), ☏ . A good NGO to visit. It's a small Nicaraguan NGO focusing on sustainable development. A couple of staff members there speak English.
- Circulo de Amigas (CdA), Barrio Linda Vista Sur Casa 32 (In Barrio Linda Vista Sur), ☏ . A local non-profit that also houses travelers at their facility. Accommodations are clean, safe, and reliable. You can stay at their facility for less than most local hotels. A volunteer-run, registered secular non-profit, working to alleviate poverty one girl at a time. In conjunction with the Nicaraguan Center for Education and Social Promotion (CEPS), they help girls and young women acquire the skills and tools needed to improve their lives. In doing so, they enable children to attend school and give direct aid to victims of severe hardship or regional crisis. They have a variety of needs all year long.
MaxiPali is the closest thing to a supermarket here.
The markets at the Mercado Municipal are excellent, really worth an afternoon wanderings, especially the "food court", authentic yet surprisingly flavorful local cuisine for C$30 and up. Also on the far side of the markets close to Paui, a few great cowboy bars with lots of great local personalities and with visiting street vendors.
If you like secondhand shops then you will love Jinotega, the place is full of secondhand American clothes, lots of people just sell them from their front room but there a couple of big shops, you can get lots of expensive labels here from C$30.
North of the city in a black ceramic manufacturing community. You can inform more in tourist offices in: INTUR, its address is in the station 1, 1 block north.
- Bull's Bar and Restaurant (At Barrio Ernesto Rosales, 1/2 block east of Batazo). Provides great food and drinks. Their main dish is soup de huevo de ora, which costs C$130. Bull's is also eco-friendly, the first bar and restaurant to do this in its area. They also offer purified water.
- Chaba's Pizza. For 10 years has been offering customers extravagant pizzas with toppings including pepperoni, cheese, sausage, chicken, ham, Hawaiian, vegetarian. Chabas is in partnership with Conceptos, a nightclub right next to it. Pizzas from C$180-480.
- Meson Bon Appetit, Banpro 1 block east 1/2.
- Don Colocho's (just north of Mistral School). M-Sa 09:00-19:00. Bakery and cafe. This is an excellent place to sit down with friends and enjoy a frappuccino and some delicious pastries. They regularly sell sweet breads, cheese breads, cakes, and tarts, as well as frappuccini, cappuccini, and other coffee based beverages, as well as purified water.
- Eskimo (a few doors down from El Tico), ☏ . Daily 10:00-20:00. One of the most famous ice cream shops in Jinotega. It is safe and filled with various flavors of ice cream. They have shakes, cones, sundaes, and more. The prices are affordable.
- La Perrera (3 km outside of town on the Matagalpa highway). One of the best restaurants in town. Expect to pay C$50-140 for good food, some of which is Italian. The taco salad is excellent (and cheap!) If you're sick of iceberg lettuce--they grow their own with good varieties brought from the States. Catch any bus before 06:00 there for C$5 and ask them when you can catch a bus back to town. Walking down is dangerous, but it's also beautiful when the stars are out!
- Pizza Movil Express. Daily, roughly 15:00-21:00. For a cheap afternoon snack, in the central park is better than Chaba's Pizza and at C$10 a slice, much cheaper too.
- Restaurante el Cony (From the rotary, head west, through the narrow alley that runs on the north side of the river, and then keep going west). Try their chuleta de pollo a la plancha. They have some neat historical photos of Jinotega.
- Soda El Tico. Everyone talks about this place, but it is hit and miss. They have decent breakfasts and some go there to enjoy a cheeseburger. Ask them to give you more than three French fries. If you're going for expensive, heavy meats, this is the place.
- La Terraza Cafe (above El Tico). They have a large variety of cakes and beverages, like tres leches, selve negra, cappuccini, and frappuccini, and purified water. The atmosphere is very relaxed, with small cafe tables and couches to lounge on.
- Soppexca (Two blocks west of Supermarket Pali), ☏ . A good coffee shop that is popular with the few extranjeros in town. Check out the bar map they have at La Biosfera Cloud forest retreat, 4 km out of town. It lists all the great bars in Jinotega a very entertaining day out.
Hotels run from US$4-100 a night and are easy to come by.
- La Biosfera Cloud Forest Retreat (4 km out of Jinotega on the road to Matagalpa, next to the Perrera, 100 m up the hill), ☏ (Suzanne), firstname.lastname@example.org. Amazing views. Run by 2 Aussies and an American, it has horse riding, bat cave, trails to local coffee plantations, a bar crawl map of Jinotega. organic permaculture-based gardens and rental accommodations from forest cabins to a backpackers' dorm.
- Hotel Café (two blocks south and two blocks east from Parque Central). If you brought more collared shirts than non-, stay here.
- Hotel Central.
- Hotel Kiuras. A family-owned hostel with Wi-Fi and great amenities. The owner is a doctor, an added bonus.
For a full Nicaraguan experience, you can try out some of the many Internet cafes located around the city. Many Nicaraguans don´t have Internet and have to utilize such cafes. Two recommended cafes are Llamadas Heladas and Ciber Centro de Llamadas del Rey. Both provide Internet as well as phone booths for cheap international calls and the latter one also provides English-Spanish translation.
- To the east of the city: Cordillera Isabelia (tourist place Nature, Hiking, Nature Reserve Datanlí-El Diablo, Nebliselva tall, La Bastilla Ecolodge, La Cascada Bujona, Cultivation of Flowers).
- West: The 'Peña De La Cruz' (height: 800 meters, located at the top of the mountains, accessible by steps, Nature tourist spot overlooking the city, Lake, etc ..).
- North: The Lake Apanás (Artificial Lake, Nature Tourism).
- South: Telecommunications Antennae (on top of the mountains, Nature attraction overlooking the city, Lake, Momotombo Volcano Managua, etc).
- To Estelí: The buses leaves at 05:00, 07:00, 09:00, 11:00AM, 13:00 and 15:00, C$50 (córdobas), every 2 hours.
- To Managua: The buses leaves of 04:00 to 17:00, C$110 (córdobas), every 1 hours.
- To Matagalpa: The buses leaves of 05:00 to 18:15, C$35 (córdobas), every half hour.