8 incredible Central America Nature Reserves you’ll want to visit immediately

Central America is renowned for being home to some breathtaking natural wonders and epic national parks, so it’s no surprise that the region boasts plenty of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

These reserves are given their status for creating a balanced and sustainable relationship between people and nature.

The best part? You can go and explore the dramatic landscapes, and it makes for a show-stopping getaway.

But with so many to choose from, where do you start?

Well, the Central America Tourism Agency (CATA) has just made things a little bit easier as it unveils some of its top picks of Biosphere Reserves across beautiful spots including the likes of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras.

Check out the 8 most incredible nature reserves you’ll want to visit immediately…

1. The Maya Biosphere Reserve

Lake Peten Itza

Located in Guatemala, this reserve boasts a mixture of archaeological sites and natural reserves, spread over 21,602 sq km.

It’s the largest American tropical forest area north of the Amazon but there are dedicated tours and trails to help you navigate through the lush dense greenery that makes up this epic jungle, as well as plenty more highlights from the lakes to the cenotes.

2. Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

The second largest coral reef system after the Great Barrier Reef, around 130,000 visitors flock to this incredible marine spot each year.

Its most iconic feature is the Great Blue Hole, a giant marine sink hole that lies in the centre of the atoll, and looks like something out of a film.

The Belize Barrier Reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 due to its vulnerability and for its significant natural habitats that allow for conservation efforts.

3. Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

Nestled on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, this reserve is home to a large number of endangered species.

Go kayaking down the mangroves, opt for the crocodile night watching tours, or simply follow the picturesque trails which offer a glimpse of just some of the natural wonders on offer.

Meanwhile, all the capital from the sale of the tourism products goes to the local communities which in turn has prevented over hunting, over fishing and over usage of the land within the reserve.

4. The Ometepe Island Reserve

The Ometepe Island Reserve

Ometepe Island is a unique location in the middle of Lake Nicaragua made up of two towering volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, joined together by a strait formed from an eruption of lava millions of years ago.

Expect everything from tropical and fog forests to wetlands, all offering a range of activities for visitors to the island.

Local guides offer hikes up the volcanoes for bird watching or even to discover the ancient petroglyphs left on the island that date back some 1,700 years.

5. Trifinio Biosphere

Trifinio Biosphere

Located between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, this 221 sq km area boasts plenty of exotic wildlife ranging from spider monkeys to toucans and pumas, all hidden away in the pine-oak forests and sweeping wetlands that make up the eye-catching scenery.

You’ll be spoiled for choice with things to see and do; in fact, the reserve has over 184 natural and cultural attractions including Mayan archaeological sites to sampling the local coffee, or following some of the beautiful nature trails.

6. La Amistad International Park

La Amistad International Park

This incredible park was formed after Costa Rica’s Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range was merged with Panama’s La Amistad Park.

The largest biosphere reserve in Central America, it covers 401,000 hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its wide range of archaeological sites, wide range of natural landscapes and some is home to animals including Jaguars and pumas.

There are dedicated walking and hiking trails too for those who want quite the epic adventure.

7. Jaragua Bahoruco Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve

Jaragua Bahoruco Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve

Located in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, there are some pretty epic sights to be found here including cloud forests, caves, mangroves and lagoons.

Wildlife spotters will be in for a treat with over 100 species of birds throughout the reserve – but head to Cabritos Island where you’ll find observation spots to catch a glimpse of crocodiles and rhinoceros iguanas.

8. Rio San Juan Biosphere Reserve

Rio San Juan

Spanning seven protected areas in Nicaragua, you’ll find everything from tropical forests and wetlands to coastal lagoons and estuaries which play home to rare and endangered species.

In fact there’s heaps of wildlife to keep an eye out for, most notably the likes of jaguars, American tigers, tapirs and red and green parrots.

The reserve also contains the municipalities of El Almendro, San Miguelito, Morrito and Nueva Guinea as well as 20,000 habitants of Rama, Miskitum, Negra and Creole ethnic groups.

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