Bonanza, the Heart of Nicaragua’s Famous Mining Triangle

Bonanza in Nicaragua’s famous Mining Triangle.

Here is a brief depiction of this city’s history and relevance in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Bonanza is a city filled with culture, wonderful sights and a rich history of mining that traces back to the dawn of the 20th century all the way through to modern times.

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General overview
Brief historical reference
How to get there and leave
Air
Land
Mining industry
Must see
Culture
Economic activity
Shopping
Getting around
Accommodations
Entertainment and events
Our advice

 

General overview

Bonanza is one of the three municipal areas in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua commonly referred to as the ‘’Mining Triangle’’. Actually, Bonanza is right in the middle of the Mining Triangle.

It borders with Siuna to the south and Rosita to the east thus completing this century-old trifecta of mining towns. Bonanza is very much still an active mining town, with perhaps less production as it once had, but it is without question a spot where gold mines continue to be worked and commercialized.

The weather in Bonanza is tropical like most other areas in the Atlantic Coast. Its average temperature is 25 degrees Celsius and it’s located about 480 kilometers from the capital of Nicaragua, Managua.

bonanza 1

Bonanza in the 1920s

Bonanza is located inside the Bosawas National Reserve and is geographically divided into 5 sectors and sub-divided into 43 different communities, which are home to 19,000 people in a territorial extension of 2,049 square kilometers. 63% of their population is comprised of Mestizo people, 27% Sumo, 9% Mizkita and just a little over 1% Creole.

Brief historical reference

Bonanza has undergone several geographic relocations since the 19th century, it was first known as La Mosquitia, and then it became part of Departamento de Zelaya (named after the famous former President Jose Santos Zelaya)

Bonanza was initially inhabited by sumus indigenous tribes, however, as the new century approached, it started to attract immigrants from the central area of the country and from other countries as well (all derived from the realization of its mining potential around 1880). It finally gained full autonomy in 1989 and became part of the R.A.A.N which stands for Region Autónoma Atlantico Norte or North Atlantic Autonomous Region.

How to get there and leave

Air

Airstrip

Airstrip

Just like the other 2 cities that are part of the mining triangle (Siuna and Rosita) you can get to Bonanza by air taking a plane from the Augusto Cesar Sandino airport in Managua with a round-trip ticket using La Costeña airline for 150USD or, 107USD for a  one way ticket as well. They have daily departures at 9am.

Note: Please make sure to be present at the airport at least 2 hours in advance to avoid missing your flight.

*Check out the landing experience!

Land

You can also get to Bonanza by land by taking a Transmina bus (their terminal is located right outside the entrance gate of the Mayoreo Marketplace). You will find buses to that area every day with two departure times, the first at 10am and another at 4:30pm. It’s a direct bus that will take you from Managua, to Boaco, Rio Blanco, Siuna, Rosita and then finally Bonanza. It should be a 20 hour journey (subject to change depending road conditions). The fare for this trip should not be more than 400 cordobas which is roughly a little over 15USD. You can get to Mercado Mayoreo by asking a taxi to take you there and specifically to the bus terminal.

Bus terminal in Managua's Mayoreo Marketplace

Bus terminal in Managua’s Mayoreo Marketplace

Mining industry

As part of the mining triangle, the one must see in this town are the gold mines, both the industrial plants or major mines and the artisanal independents who extract gold for local trading purposes. These workers are also street vendors who sell their raw gold to locals and tourists.

HEMCO is the largest mine in Bonanza, you can contact them at their website) to request a tour of their plant where you will be able to witness first hand their operation process.

Must see

One of the best attractions in Bonanza is El Salto Grande (The Big Leap); it is located just about 7 kilometers from the main town and it is basically a human-made waterfall that gushes mightily from the local hydroelectric plant. It is a very nice sight especially at dusk when the jungle hums with life and glows with the final dim of sunlight.

El Salto Grande

El Salto Grande

However, if you want a real waterfall experience try the Siempre Viva by taking the bus a 17 kilometers to Vesubio at the same terminal you arrived at in Bonanza and walk the remaining 2 kilometers. You can also engage in jungle trekking, motorcycling and many other activities!

Culture

The people of Bonanza craft their own musical instruments, mostly drums from deer skin and bamboo flutes; they use these instruments in their annual carnivals and local events where folk music and dances are performed. In their music, it is common for them to emulate the howl of animals. Culture is very important for this area; it is very much a means to stay entertained while also carrying the core of their tradition.

Economic activity

As part of the mining triangle, Bonanza’s main economic activity has been historically, mining. It is important to point out that the area or triangle no longer produces the amount of gold and other minerals it once did mainly because those resources have already been extracted and are obviously not renewable.

Raw Gold

Raw Gold

The origins of mining in Bonanza come from around 1934 when the Rosario Mining Company decided to purchase the right to extract metals and minerals from the city for commercial purposes; the industry reached its peak in the decade of the 1960s becoming at the time, one of the main sectors of prosperity in the entire region of Central America.

Tourist touring gold mine

Tourist touring gold mine

Right now, mostly Colombian companies continue to invest in the mining industry. Thanks to that economic activity, Bonanza is one of the few municipal areas in the region that are not under so much extreme poverty. There are about a dozen casinos in the city — no Bellagio or any of the like, just regular local casinos that could take the edge off at nights if you feel like trying your luck.

Farming is also another industry that yields some commercial value for this area, but its mainly for self sustainability meaning that the farmers don’t intend to grow crops for commercial purposes but rather to provide for their households.

Shopping

Local vendors will sell craftsmanship, food and of course jewelry especially gold pieces or raw gold. You can find these local vendors in the downtown area.

The best place to shop in Bonanza is definitely the local marketplace which is located on the northern end of the downtown area adjacent to the bus terminal where you will arrive if you take by-land transportation. La Costeña Airline Bonanza branch is right in front of it. The marketplace has no name, so as soon as you get to the downtown area you will notice the vendor stalls.

Getting around

Most of the getting around in Bonanza is done by foot, however there are also taxi sedans for hire at rates from 1-3USD within the city and pick-up trucks that you can request rides from (it’s very common in this area) however, we strongly recommend your use of common sense when asking from strangers, especially if it’s at night or you are an unaccompanied female.

Accommodations

One of the best places to stay at Bonanza is the Hospedaje B&B; you can contact them at 2794-0017 with beds starting at 5USD. It’s a landmark blue and yellow building next to the market and offers small and clean rooms while also providing one of the best restaurants in town with meals ranging from 3USD to 5USD.

The best hotel in town is the Xochilt hotel offering you private single-bed rooms with air conditioning, wi-fi and restaurant service for 25USD. You can contact them at 2794-0177. They are located where the City Hall’s bodega used to be in across the Chino Lee store in the downtown area.

 

Hotel Xochilt

Hotel Xochilt

Entertainment and events

Like many other cities in R.A.A.N, baseball has a huge and indelible impact on the citizens of Bonanza. As a matter of fact, as soon as the Duncan Campbell stadium was inaugurated in 2010, hundreds of fans and sometimes thousands of them line up way before game time to see their team. In fact, people from Rosita, Siuna and other areas come into town to enjoy the venue!

Our advice

There is very little touristic presence in Bonanza and most accommodations are targeted for local workers. We highly recommend staying in Rosita and do one day trip to Bonanza to see the gold mines and gold processing. When you go, make sure to take enough cash and an emergency kit. The town is very colorful and has a lot of beautiful nature around it being located in the Bosawas National Reserve.