The Cocibolca or Lago de Nicaragua is the second-largest inland lake in Latin America after Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru. It stretches from the border to Costa Rica in the south to the city of Granada in the north. The water of the lake runs through the Río San Juan into the Caribbean Sea and this river can also be used by larger ships. That was discovered in 1525 by the Spanish, but also in the 17th century by pirates attacking the city of Granada.
The Spanish were searching for a connection from coast to coast, but there isn’t a natural one. Later a railway system connected Granada with the port of Corinto, by these days goods could be transported from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean and vice versa. It was sometimes discussed to create a Nicaragua Canal as an alternative to the Canal de Panamá – but that would slowly turn the Cocibolca from a sweet water to a salt water lake, with all consequences for the ecosystem.
In the lake currently different fishes are living and contribute to the menu of the locals, but there are also tarpons, sawfish and bull sharks. But don’t worry, the shark population is small and it is typically safe to swim in the lake, I did so as well. 😉 It is said that sharks have been formerly fished on large scale to gather their fins for export. The Cocibolca contains over 400 islands and tourists typically visit places like the Isletas close to Granada or the island of Zapatera (with traces of ancient populations) and the Ometepe island with a volcano (much beloved by backpackers these days).
Lago de Nicaragua