The founders and workers of Selva Negra take pride in the Matagalpa region's rich cultural legacy and unique way of life. Take time during your visit to Selva Negra to learn about the region and its colourful history:
- Visit the museum on the upper level of the restaurant to view historical displays about the region's native peoples and the fascinating immigrants who founded Nicaragua's coffee industry.
- The outer wall of the restaurant on the lakeside displays a giant map of Nicaragua that highlights key events in its history.
- Next to the map is a glossary of words from the languages of Nicaragua's native peoples, including several on the verge of vanishing. Some of the languages are being preserved thanks to the research of Eddy Kuhl, one of Selva Negra's founders.
- On the doors of the Yasica complex you will find murals by local artists depicting native life ways.
- Make your way to the coffee processing facility for displays about the history of coffee production and its impact on the development of Nicaragua and the Matagalpa region.
- Pick up one of Eddy Kuhl's books on local history, legends and lore.
- Come celebrate the holidays with us in traditional Matagalpan fashion. We host special events during Nicaragua's favourite holiday, Semana Santa (Easter Week). Christmas brings special Matagalpan holiday traditions, decorations and meals. Ring out New Years Eve when we host a special party for hotel guests.
For more information on the Matagalpa region and the rest of Nicaragua, check out ViaNica.com, a wonderful website filled with detailed information about our beautiful homeland.
Whether for a day, a weekend, a week or a month, you could spend your entire vacation within the boundaries of Selva Negra without becoming bored. But then you'd be missing out on the warm-hearted people, colourful fiestas and serene countryside of the Matagalpa highlands beyond the borders of Selva Negra. Why not use our resort as a base camp for daytrips to nearby attractions? Here are just a few of your many options.
Selva Negra is within a few minutes' drive of the cities of Jinotega and Matagalpa. Both cities are tourist attractions in their own right.
Matagalpa has been called the San Francisco of Nicaragua because it is built on steep hills surrounded by mountains. The city is dotted by small parks and the plazas of colonial-era churches, where the Matagalpinos enjoy hanging out on benches to chat, people-watch, and nibble on typical Nicaraguan snacks sold by street vendors.
Matagalpa is a big city and the place to go shopping for anything you need that you can't find at Selva Negra. It's also famous for the quality of its crafts.
- Unique to Matagalpa is Ceramica Negra, on sale in stores throughout the city. Ceramica Negra is black ceramic pottery inspired by the pre-Columbian techniques and designs of the Matagalpa Indians. Many of the potters are the latest generation of artisanal families who have been making Ceramica Negra since the days of the Spanish Conquest. Selva Negra sells fine pieces of this ancient art in our gift shop.
- Matagalpa is also known for its leatherwork such as cowboy boots, belts and hats, and musical instruments such as guitars and violins.
- Matagalpa is the only city in Nicaragua with a Cemetery for Foreigners, just a short stroll south of the city.
- From 1903 to 1905, Matagalpino businesspeople operated a one-of-a-kind steam locomotive with six wagons to carry coffee 165 kilometers to the Pacific port of Corinto. It was called a "Terrocarril" (railess train) because it ran on a dirt track instead of rails. You can see artefacts of the Terrocarril in Selva Negra's museum.
- Jinotega is a tranquil valley town surrounded by spectacular vistas of cloud-shrouded rain forests and mountain slopes covered by pine trees. It was already settled by native people before the Spanish took control in the 17th century. The Harvey Wells Museum in Jinotega curates a small collection of precious artefacts and displays.
- Jinotega is a jumping-off point for trips to Nicaragua's largest natural reserve and a huge artificial lake.
- The Penas Blancas Massif is one of the most impressive natural areas in the department of Jinotega. Stunning, steep cliffs rise to an elevation of 1,745 meters, making this one of the highest points in Nicaragua. This area is located northeast of Jinotega and is takes some effort to reach, ensuring tranquility, untouched forests and beautiful settings.
- By damming the water of the Tuma River behind the Apanas Valley, engineers created Lago Apanas, Nicaragua's first artificial lake. The hydroelectric station produces 100 megawatts of electric energy. The wetlands of Lago Apanas are protected and internationally recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
Most Nicaraguan guidebooks call the 30-kilometer mountain highway from Matagalpa to Jinotega the most scenic drive in nation. The road has just been rebuilt and is in excellent condition, so you won't need a 4X4 vehicle to climb up and down its steep hills and stop at its many scenic lookouts.
If you'd like to leave the driving to others, local buses ply the route from Matagalpa to Jinotega and back. You can flag one down at the bus stop by the military tank that marks the turn-off to Selva Negra.
The highway climbs so steeply from Selva Negra to Jinotega that you'd have to be Lance Armstrong to even think about peddling it, but you can still enjoy riding it on a mountain bike. Take your bike to the bus stop, load it aboard to Jinotega and ride your way downhill. You'll need strong brakes, heavy lungs and nerves of steel. Don't forget your helmet.
If your day trips inspire you to learn more about the area's history, traditions, culture and folklore, feel free to pose your questions to Eddy Kuhl, one of our founders. Eddy is an historian of the region. You'll find him at the resort. And please don't forget to check out the articles section for more history. The following are facts about the Matagalpa region by Eddy Kühl: