The Solentiname Archipelago is a group of 36 islands and islets of volcanic origin, with a total area of 190 km2, and its elevation ranges between 30 and 250 meters above sea level. The archipelago is located at the south-east end of Lake Cocibolca, and belongs to the department of Río San Juan. The archipelago is valued for its high natural, cultural and historical wealth, which is why it was declared a protected area, with a National Monument category.
The archipelago was the site of a pre-Columbian culture from which you can still see a large number of petroglyphs, with figures of birds, monkeys or people. Numerous pre-Columbian archaeological pieces have been found that are exhibited in museums in Mancarrón and in San Fernando islands.
Due to its size and population, the main islands are Mancarrón, Mancarroncito, San Fernando and La Venada. The principal economic activities are agriculture, artisanal fishing, primitivist painting, handicrafts, and tourism. Freshwater sharks, and other marine species inhabit both the lake and the San Juan River, and also include sawfishes and shad (Megalops atlanticus). An important international fishing competition is held every year.
Thanks to the impulse of the poet Father Cardenal, who founded a contemplative community, and rebuilt a church where the internationally famous testimonial music “Peasant Mass or Misa Campesina,” was heard for the first time, the Solentiname archipelago has become the residence of many artists, and the headquarters of a primitive pictorial movement with its own characteristics.
Visitors can learn how to make local traditional crafts, or they can rent kayaks to enjoy the waters of the lake. At night, as there is no electricity, and only some houses have solar energy, the place is perfect for reading, contemplation and meditation.
To visit the islands, you must arrive at the San Carlos dock, in Río San Juan, by land or air. At the pier, a public panga or tourist transportation boat will take you to your destination in approximately three hours.
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