Zapatera Archipelago National Park

The Zapatera Archipelago National Park is located in Lake Nicaragua and consists of the Zapatera Island, which is essentially Zapatera Volcano, and several islands surrounding it. Most of the crescent-shaped islands surrounding Zapatera Island are old extinct volcanoes with their crater rims rising above the surface of the lake. Zapatera Volcano is a dormant shield volcano that formed the Zapatera Island several thousand years ago. Zapatera Archipelago National Park is not heavily visited by tourists, so the natural beauty is untouched, however many of the archaeological treasures have been looted or relocated to museums.

Zapatera Island

Zapatera Island offers hiking trails, archaeological sites, and fishing. The hiking trails include hiking up Zapatera Hill, also known as Cerro Grande, which is the highest point on the island and is a strenuous hike that offers great views of Ometepe Island. Another hiking option is the less challenging Banderas Hill which also has amazing views of Concepcion Volcano and Maderas Volcano on Ometepe Island. Zapatera Island also has a small crater lake on its northwest corner near the Chiquero Bay. There are various archaeological sites of interest, including the ancient temple of Zonzapote and La Punta de las Figuras (Figures Point) which is located near the crater lake.

Officially you are required to have a permit from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) to visit the national park. However, park rangers are not present often so it unlikely you will be asked to show your permit. Regardless, you may want to hire a guide that can provide both transportation across the lake to the islands as well as direct you to the hiking trails or the archaeological ruins.

Isla el Muerto

Isla el Muerto (Death Island) is a small island north of Zapatera Island that is part of Zapatera Archipelago National Park. The island was named Isla el Muerto because it used to be a sacred burial site for the Nahuatl people. At the highest point on the island is a large slab of rock with ancient drawings