The settlement of El Castillo, Nicaragua, on the Rio San Juan is a remote destination, 155 mi/250 km southeast of Managua, that few travelers write into their plans.
The castle is a Spanish fort that was built in the 1700s to defend against pirates and British forces trying to make their way to Lake Nicaragua. Today, the old stone fort, called El Morro, has been partly restored and has exhibits on its long history.
The village of El Castillo is tranquil and interesting. Several times a day, the locals go out on the river in their canoes and fish with nets. The town also has a lovely hotel constructed of indigenous woods. The project was sponsored by the Spanish government and is a surprising sight in such a remote area.
You get to El Castillo by boat from San Carlos—the trip to San Carlos is easiest by flying, or you can take a hellacious boat ride from Granada. Most travelers also try to visit the Solentiname Archipelago or Los Guatuzos wildlife reserve.
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