Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve protects one of the last areas of tropical rainforest in Central America — 1.3 million acres (525,000 hectares) in total. The mountainous landscape along the Río Plátano watershed is home to some 400 species of birds, 40 mammals and 120 reptiles and amphibians, a number of which are threatened or endangered.
Travelers hiking the reserve’s mountain trails or rafting along the Río Plátano or Río Seco might spot colorful harpy eagles, colorful macaws, howler monkeys, sloths and maybe even a puma or jaguar crouched in the undergrowth.
Besides its natural attractions, the biosphere reserve is also home to a population of about 2,000 indigenous Pech and Miskito residents who have largely preserved their traditional way of life.
Most transport within the reserve is by boat. June through September is the rainy season in the area, which can complicate travel.