Written by Juancpaz on 03 Oct, 2009
1) 4x4 car experience! To get to national park, you have to get with a 4x4 vehicle. San Pedro Sula, has a elevation of 120 meters above the level, and the highest elevation of the park is at 2200 meters above sea level. But the…Read More
1) 4x4 car experience! To get to national park, you have to get with a 4x4 vehicle. San Pedro Sula, has a elevation of 120 meters above the level, and the highest elevation of the park is at 2200 meters above sea level. But the car can reach till the 1800!. While you drive up you can see the astonishing views of the mountain valleys. Plus, you can feel the elevation changes. As you go up it gets colder and all the geographical terrain changes. http://www.igougo.com/photos/journal/132x132/b8bada47aa0d411384944e98934bf093.jpg2) Stop at "Caritas Observation Tower" at Naranjito village. Caritas is a NGO that brings a lot of help to the mountain villages surrounding Cusuco National Park. It starts with the only bilingual (Spanish - English) school, for the mountain villagers children at a very low prize. A chicken farm, this creates meat and eggs at a lower prize because middlemen are eliminated. A rabbit farm, for meat + a lot of nice things to help develop the villages. 3) Get some traditional Honduran food at "Buenos Aires village".Buenos Aires is the last village of the mountain. It holds the entrance to the national park. Here you can get very delicious meals at "Toucan restaurant" or "Quetzal restaurant". The villagers from here are amazing; they have protected the biodiversity of the park since before it was protected by the government. 4) Visit "Toucan Waterfall".To get to this astonishing waterfall, you have to hike for one and a half hour. While you walk you get to see different traditional/high quality/conservation coffee farms. The waterfall has 4 falls; you can only get to sea the 4th one when you get there. Swimming at the cold water is something you can't miss!5) Hike to "Golondrinas Waterfall".This trail is bit more complicated, 1hour and a half of a more difficult terrain. At this hike you have a denser cloud forest trail. The environment is different from Toucan Waterfall; the canopy of the trees is closer and a more mystical look. Hidden inside this forest, the waterfall looks as it in a cave and creates a Jurassic environment.6) Check out "Quetzal Waterfall"Departing from the Visitors center of the National Park, one of the easiest trails allows you the chance to be close to the core zone.7) Mountain biking Once over there, mountain biking trails are remarkable, 6kms of downhill from Base camp to Buenos Aires Village, and 9 Km of mostly horizontal and downhill to Naranjito Village. This tour can last around 2 to 3 hours of marvelous views. 8) Camp at one of the different location.Recreational camping is something with a lot of potential. Being alone with nature makes this destination an exotic place to be. The cold climate makes this a cozy experience and because there is no electrical energy the only thing you’ll hear is from nature itself. There is no more than 5 mm of difference between all the stars in the sky. 9) Stay at the Eco-Lodge.The Honduran government helped to create the Eco-lodge at Buenos Aires Village. With solar panels it’s eco friendly. The capacity for accommodations is five double rooms, a kitchen, a living room, and an incredible view balcony. 10) STAY FOR MORE THAN A DAY!I just said 10 things to do at the park, but the options are way more. Caves, more than 10 trails, more villages, mountain rappelling and abseiling, etc. Come to Honduras, its an amazing country with a strong culture. www.junglexpedition.orgCusuco National Park toursSan Pedro Sula, Honduras Close
Written by Jose Kevo on 25 Feb, 2008
Getting in/out of Honduras has never been easier thanks to Aeropuerto Internacional Ramón Villeda Morales; the newly renovated facility 15km outside San Pedro Sula. Considering location, this is the best option for making connections to the country's most popular sites, including the Copán Archeological…Read More
Getting in/out of Honduras has never been easier thanks to Aeropuerto Internacional Ramón Villeda Morales; the newly renovated facility 15km outside San Pedro Sula. Considering location, this is the best option for making connections to the country's most popular sites, including the Copán Archeological Ruins and the Bay Islands. Industrial nature of this region keeps the airport busy with frequent global business travelers unlike in Tegucigalpa; the Capital's less-frequented airport.TACA and Copa have daily flights, connecting through other Central American cities. Delta and Continental offer daily international service from the States as does American, which I flew.American's flights are based from Miami International, with roughly a two-hour gate-to-gate time for San Pedro Sula. They've a couple of daily flights, arriving around 12:30pm and 5:30pm. If schedules permit, I highly recommend the earlier flight. Honduras doesn't acknowledge Daylight Savings Time, it's dark before 7:00pm. Bus transportaion has already ceased for the day, and orientation to San Pedro is overwhelming enough by day; little alone after dusk!-- AA-frequent flier award flights are based at 35K-miles. Shoulder/Off-Season usually nets at least a 5K-savings. For CitiAAdvantage card members, both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa regularly appear on quarterly Discount Mileage Awards lists. Using this, and another promotion offered with the new AAmExpress Citicard, I got round-trip flights from the midwest for 17,200-miles and $42.50, which included all taxes and the $15 booking fee by phone. Special awards can't be booked online.Arriving in HondurasAll necessary forms are distributed on the plane, and must be completed before passing through immigration. There is no official tourist card or entry fees. In fact, hallway signs proclaim, 'Welcome to Honduras; it's Free to enter our country'. As hospitable as that sounds, they get you on the way out!Officials scan and stamp passports, as well as staple necessary documents onto passport pages. Luggage carousels are beyond as are another set of customs inspectors. All items must pass through x-ray. From here, travelers were waved-on while nationals and businessmen had belongings thoroughly inspected.Exchanging CurrencyThe main terminal area is rather confounding with that first blast of tropical heat. There was no signage for navigating through the beehive of activities, including the onslaught of individuals with fists full of Lempiras; the official local currency. I eventually discovered that independent money changers offer the going rate, but be wary about digging into stashes amid so many distractions, which invite potential theft!On far-side of the concourse is a small bank branch, where I recommend exchanging currency just to be safe. Lempiras, simply referred to as "Lemps" and designated Lps on prices, have a stable history against the American-$. In 5/07, exchange rate was holding at 18.9. Also, there's no transaction fee.-- The bank also converts Travelers Cheques and gives cash advances on credit cards. Otherwise, these forms of payment are accepted in only the most heavily-frequented tourist areas, and are hit-and-miss even in San Pedro Sula businesses. Banks in remote towns don't have ATM's, but at least will exchange currency since Casas de Cambios are rare.Beyond the AirportFuture plans call for new international airports scattered around the country, including the Copán region, and Gracias -- heart of the Ruta Lenca. In the meantime, ground transportation is the only way for getting around.Hedman Alas is the premier bus company, at almost triple the rates of other outfits. While travel times are basically the same, inflation is justified by luxury service including air-conditioning, onboard snacks and entertainment, and restrooms that actually function. They've recently opened a terminal at the airport, which spares further hassle if connections can be coordinated. Otherwise travelers must venture into the City, which was not an impressionable way to begin!Taxi drivers quickly zero-in on potential prey, asking $20 though the going rate is either $10 or Lps200. Basic Spanish can help stand your ground, but there's no reason to pay anything more! Arriving early enough to make a bus connection will actually determine where you need to go, and where things got rather confusing.I was headed for Copán, and while I could've caught a Hedman Alas bus at the airport or at their in-town terminal, El Rey Express and Casasola offered the same routes for $5.29/Lps100. Requesting El Rey with time to catch a listed 1:30pm departure, driver inadvertantly dropped me off at the unmarked Casasola lot; perhaps because it was closer.By time I discovered the mix-up, it was too late. Casasola's listed last departure at 2:40pm was actually 3:30pm, leaving more than 2-hours to kill in a very desolate, impoverished area. Quite honestly, I was too paranoid to venture far beyond, or purchase anything more than bottled water amid the filth. There were no restrooms; guys told to pee anywhere, while who knows how females manage.Unfortunately, these are the first perceptions most will have of the Country and San Pedro Sula; especially budget travelers! When later returning to the City, I would find the Rey Express lot just as haphazard and chaotic, though thankfully San Pedro had more than just these highly suspect areas.-- Hope For the Future includes a new Bus Terminal, completed more than a year ago but sitting vacant because transportation companies have refused to use it! A major resistance had begun on 5/28/07 when smaller city buslines blockaded all major companies' buses within the new terminal, after they agreed to begin usage that morning. However, that's a start and hopefully the problem will be solved sooner than later.-- Once the new terminal is up-and-running, expect cab fares to rise to/from airport. It wouldn't surprise me if the rate doubled to $20/Lps400 because it's in the opposite direction from the airport, another 5km south of the City.Departing from HondurasArriving two-hours before departure is recommended, but quite frankly I was shocked that the whole procedure was quick and effecient at every check-point; even with waiting lines!The entry level is expansive, with plenty of seating before passing through checkpoints. Off the central fountain is a Coffeeshop Kiosk; a large negro costing 14Lps. For those wanting a bit more, there's also Wendy's on the far end. The giftshop closest to Wendy's had the best slections, but outrageous prices. Smaller one towards the middle offered less, but had 15%-discounts on everything.On the upper-level, passengers must first pass through immigration/customs, which was rather backasswards. They'll ask to see passport, but didn't bother with exit stamps or declaration of goods. Main concern is paying Departure Tax of 627Lps or $33.19. And yes, they expect that 19¢! If paying in dollars but don't have coins, 4Lps covered the difference. If using dollars, I recommend exact amounts because any change is returned in Lempiras.-- A large 'Taxes Paid' receipt will be stapled to ticket envelopes. This is your ticket out of the country!Security checkpoints were very casual, and handled with more respect and dignity than you'll ever get at an American airport. The x-ray technician obviously spotted a cigarette lighter tossed into the jumbled abyss of my backpack. An officer checked through pockets, took a couple of things out, but gave-up without further asking. (Nothing supposedly illegal was even detected or questioned at Miami or Dallas).The whole 3-1-1 business was also very nonchalant. I had a 3-oz bottle of mouthwash in a clear zip-lock stashed within my backpack, and never kept it out nor was asked to at any airport. At San Pedro Sula, bottled water wasn't even an issue. Before boarding the plane, there's a table where passengers are expected to voluntarily leave any deviant contraband. Otherwise, no one was thoroughly searching carry-on contents.The waiting area has a small snackbar and pair of souvenir kiosks. As an added bonus, I'm always impressed that AA distributes snack bags when leaving Central America. This one contained ham and cheese croissant, small pastry and a banana; more than you'd ever get within the States, including on Miami international departures.Duty Free ShoppingThere's only one store, but a big one! Aside from perfumes, cigars and what you'd expect, a 10-pack $18 carton of cigarettes might be cheaper than the States, but hardly a deal when individual packs never cost more than $1.30 in the city; 90¢ in rural areas. Best buys are wines and liquors; selections quite impressive. I loaded up on Barceló Añejo; a superbly aged, dark Rum from the Dominican Republic, for $8 a 750ml-bottle. Purchases are delivered to departure gates.-- Here's the quandry: From Honduras, there's no problem taking perfumes and liquors onboard as carry-on luggage. However, once arriving in Miami and passing through customs, items must be packed into checked luggage before they're reprocessed for connecting flights. Otherwise, they're confiscated at the next security checkpoint. Close
Written by Jose Kevo on 12 Feb, 2008
Optium Viewing; Wobbling into my twelfth hour of fixated itchy feet, interest feigned standing at yet another trailhead. The path quickly disappeared into the coffee plantation; the Macaw Mountain guide thoroughly detailing the plants, the trail, the potential overlooks, the… Since it…Read More
Optium Viewing; Wobbling into my twelfth hour of fixated itchy feet, interest feigned standing at yet another trailhead. The path quickly disappeared into the coffee plantation; the Macaw Mountain guide thoroughly detailing the plants, the trail, the potential overlooks, the… Since it was almost the 5-o’clock closing time, I thought I’d do us both a favor and make tracks to the nearby exit instead. The young moto-taxi driver was still parked under a shade tree, whether waiting for me or taking a break to catch-up with his buddy we’d picked-up on the way out of town. Much to their wonder and even somewhat mine, I kept right on trodding towards the dusty road. They sprang into action, making sure I realized it was well over 3km back into town and I didn’t need to walk. In hopes of prolonging the perfect day, that’s exactly what transpired!Macaw Mountain is a considerable distance from town. Ride there was quite the good-humored jolt along a washboard road. Bouncing like a bobble-headed doll afforded random flashes of rural scenery while tucked-away inside the canopied contraption. I was determined to rivet the full scope, regardless of how washed-out the road and my legs were. Besides, it was all downhill in direction but quite the opposite in regards to perspectives.This rural route curves and swerves through forests and farmlands, where livestock peacefully grazed in shaded pastures. Chirps of fluttering songbirds permeated the silence, ruptured only by the rumbles of random passing vehicles including mis amigos in the moto-taxi. They slowed asking for a "last chance" opening. Waving them onward, the experience was mine for the taking; something I’m sure few if any visitors have ever considered.Easing closer to town with each shifting step, my dogs weren’t the only ones barking as random homes began appearing along the road. Ferocious sounding canines were always ready to gr"eat" me; their barks worse than any bites as indicated by the nonchalant locals that were coming out of the woodlands to share the road.As to what officially constituted the afternoon pilgrimage was anyone’s guess but ramblers of all ages continued to join the processions, now beginning to head in both directions. Curious stares of children melted into reciprocated smiles; even from the unsupervised ones playing naked in ditches and yards. Beyond the touristic gleam of downtown Copán Ruinas sprawls the humble truths of Honduras subsistence. To share in these simplicities, even in the briefest of passing moments, are the travel experiences that keep me questing for more.Passing over a shaded bridge, a massive flamboyán tree captured my attention blazing against the green spectrum. Looking downstream, the waters meandered through a maze of boulders and abandoned piles of laundry. Despite the obvious destitution, this was someone’s idyllic backyard; simple country living at its finest. The stolen moment was anything but silent from whatever was unfolding below other side of the bridge.Rowdy boys were frolicking in the waters where rocks had formed a natural pool. I had a few seconds to observe unnoticed before the real show started. Antics only escalated one spotting camera. There was quite the feat trying to capture a shot that didn’t include exposed bare body parts; ever the conscientious one hailing from a land where something so innocent has reason to be misconstrued.Departing with an "adios", another rumpus scattered jaywalkers as a young catracho came thundering around the bend on his horse, perfecting the Wild West ambiance. Cowboys and horses are still as much a part of this rustic venue as are the age-old adobe buildings dotting roadsides; some in various stages of forsaken decay. Others as viable sanctuaries and humble abodes of 21st Century Latin America.The route edges toward legitimate barrios layered on either side of the mountainous road. Preparing to refresh inside a pulpería, a "señor, señor" paused my entry thanks to a posse of children approaching with urgency. It was the band of bathers; still wet but somewhat recognizable semi-clothed. Actual acknowledgement seemed to throw them off; suddenly they didn’t know what to say and took off giggling down the road.What ensued was a playful game of cat-and-mouse with the youngsters popping-out from various places and scurrying just as quickly once noticing them. I must confess the rascals gave quite the startle when appearing overhead from a roof. Mustering all the courage in the world, one put-forth their best broken English to request, "Please, take our picture."Responding in Spanish almost seemed to rupture fascination that had ensued chasing the foreigner down the road, but they still wanted the picture. Construction workers in the street halted briefly with approval, whether from a watchful eye or to reflect upon their own carefree childhoods; likely right here on the side of this mountain. The boys disappeared as quickly as they had appeared; never to be seen again, and the clanging and banging of progress resumed.Shadows were beginning to deepen colors as afternoon sun slid behind the ridge. Even without this timely cue, weighted-down truckloads of people heading home for the day indicated it was well after 5:00pm.The closer I advanced towards the town’s civilization, the more my steps decelerated even with heading downhill. Less and less imagination was germane with each passing block. And while I hadn’t even been in Copán Ruinas for 24-hours, the methodical cultured slant was already beginning to seem inhibitive compared to this untamed, liberating jaunt accomplished in less than a piddling hour.My legs and feet were sore, but there were still fleeting moments of daylight left to burn. Landing on the nearest Parque Central ledge to plot my next course of action, I hadn’t been there long when my amigo in the moto-taxi pulled-up and shut the engine off. I didn't think much of it till he came rushing forward and asked, "¿Todo bien?"; "Everything’s ok?" Apparently my response was not nearly convincing enough.In his mind, he or his friend must have done something highly offensive at some point in the day for me to chose walking all the way back to town rather than catching a ride. He went out of his way to apologize and assure how much he enjoyed his job. I’m not sure this young man ever believed my sentiments, nor that the only thing I might bother reporting to his supervisor was what a considerate tourism ambassador he was for the entire town!He seemed to relax with a smile, offered services for anything needed, and seemed disappointed; almost paranoid when finding I’d be leaving first thing in the morning. Detailing my plans, the driver seemed somewhat satisfied until asking, "but why’d you do that?" – in reference to my walking back to town from Macaw Mountain."Simplemente porque"; Simply because – an explanation that sidesteps all international language barriers with significant meaning only to the inveterate traveler. Close
Written by Jose Kevo on 28 Dec, 2007
With such close proximity to La Frontera, the town of Copán Ruinas and further afield Copán Archaeological Site, have became one of Guatemala's most popular daytrips; especially to anyone searching for Mayan Ruins. Guatemala guidebooks all include special sections for making this border run…Read More
With such close proximity to La Frontera, the town of Copán Ruinas and further afield Copán Archaeological Site, have became one of Guatemala's most popular daytrips; especially to anyone searching for Mayan Ruins. Guatemala guidebooks all include special sections for making this border run that's became even easier than outdated information suggests.The greatest improvement is that all connecting roads on either side of borders are now paved at all three crossings, minimizing listed travel times. Checkpoints at El Florido (outside of Copán Ruinas) and Agua Caliente are also now open 24-hours; the Caribbean coastal crossing at Corinto closes at 6:00pm.These days, greatest decision involves whether to use public transportation, major bus companies such as Hedman Alas, or numerous private shuttles popping-up.From Copán Ruinas, the latter two offer direct service to Antigua, with stops in Guatemala City. These are priced considerably more but cut-down on travel time without making frequent stops. The hitch is that nothing leaves until 1:00pm, or later in the day. To those looking for flexibility and adventure at a fraction of the cost, public transportation is certainly the way to go!Colectivo vans regularly depart from Copán Ruinas a block west off the northwest corner of Parque Central. For 12Lps, it's about 20-minutes to El Florido and the Guatemalan border. The first van leaves at 6:00am. After this, exits run about every hour or when a full-load has been collected.Tip #1 If leaving on the first van, make sure to have purchased water, snacks, or whatever needed the night before. Nothing is open in Copán Ruinas, and there's no time for buying anything at the border with that first, quick-connection waiting.Crossing the BorderThe van unloads passengers just short of the checkpoint for walking across the border. Just beyond on the right are the shabby immigration offices. They'll request to see passports, but won't stamp them for exit or re-entry at land crossings. There's a 20Lps tax for leaving Honduras, and Lps25 fee to enter Guatemala. Either station will accept Lempiras, Quetzales or US-$.The border wasn't nearly as harrowing as information described; perhaps because it was still so early in the day. A couple of food stands and a tienda/store were already open, but the connecting colectivo was obviously waiting. There's a small bank branch on the Guatemalan side but also roving money changers. Official exchange rate was Q7.5 on the dollar; I got Q7.4 rapidly in the street.Tip #2 Especially if planning to return to Honduras, keep the Lempiras. Exchange rate was marginally better if cashing-in US-$.Venturing into GuatemalaColectivos regularly head for Chiquimula; the major transportation center for this part of the country. In-transit, this was where the fun began! Unlimited stops were made through the rural region. As last passenger in at the border, I was sitting at the open, side-exit door; a front-row seat for the entertainment as riders hopped on-and-off. With such a full-load, some were left standing in the open door while clinging to the outer-roof!Photo ops were too genuine to resist; the curious crowd chuckling at my camera monitor while begging for more. Not only did this cause peculiar distractions, I was also obstructing progress -- my 6'4"-largeness preventing more passengers from squeezing into the rear section, and also blocking the entire rumble board jammed between the first row and front seats. Driver insisted it would be more "accommodating" to move me upfront.After a quick roadside shuffle, I got sandwiched in the middle between driver and passenger as wide as I was tall! They pleasantly addressed me as gringo; I counter-feigned as Boricua, and we were off through the rolling hills and mountains; oblivious to how many were finally crammed into that 15-passenger van.In the picturesque valley town of Jocotán, passengers going to Chiquimula transfer to another van at no additional charge. Ride from the border to Chiquimula was Q20; the 2-hour endeavor from Copán Ruinas roughly costing $3.30, not including the $2.40 for immigration entry/exit fees.Tip #3 When traveling by colectivo vans, luggage is tied onto roof racks. While contents may be secure, this method risks serious saturation and/or damage during random downpours, or traveling during the rainy season. Fortunately I was lucky during my entire trip, but never would've considered need for a waterproof bag. You should!Chiquimula was quite bustling! Transportation hubs are absorbed within blocks of the outdoor markets. Upon arrival, barkers and porters immediately whisk foreign travelers off in a hustle without the hassle. Simply tell them where you're headed. And no, they didn't expect tips for carrying bags. Hospitality only speeds-up the process!The entire country of Guatemala is accessible from this town, and changing buses again in Río Hondo is no longer necessary as information suggests. Travelers have a couple of long-haul options on battered, charter-type buses -- local, or so-called directo. The latter costs more, and either make innumerable stops in towns along the way. I recommend taking which ever one is departing first.Tip #4 If coming to Copán Ruinas town and the Copán Archaeological Site from Guatemala, just reverse all these instructions and expect much of the same. The first van headed towards the Honduran border also leaves Chiquimula at 6:00am. With an approximate 8:00am. arrival, this leaves better part of the day for exploring the park and time to head-back if you don't plan on staying. Lonely Planet has numerous hotel and restaurant listings for Chiquimula, and I certainly wouldn't have minded looking around with more time.-- Departing Chiquimula shortly after 8:00am, I was in Guatemala's Caribbean coastal region well before noon, for only Q40; slightly more than $5.Re-entering HondurasWith a last-minute change of itenerary, I headed back to the interior rather than crossing the coastal border at Corinto which links Puerto Barrios, Guatemala to Omoa, Honduras.From the Guatemalan town of Esquipulas, famous for its monstrosity of a basilica luring pilgrims in search of miracles, crossing borders was just as effortless. Colectivos, in the form of taxis or vans, regularly leave from 11a Calle; the main street, one-block west of the park and cathedral. The 10-minute ride to the border goes for Q15/$2.Drop-off is in front of Guatemala immigration, which check passports without stamping them and charged no exit fees; perhaps because I'd only been in the country four days. Outside, another shuttle makes the 2km-run to the Honduran bordertown of Agua Caliente for Q5; it's too far to walk.Upon arrival, this is where things got a little confusing simply because there's no signs for where anything is. There's quite a bit of development and activity though still nothing intense as guidebooks would have you believe. There's no need to wander off the main-road. Beyond the border crossing, immigration office is on lower-level of the large building to the right. The tax for entering Honduras is $3 or 60Lps.Money changers are available in the street to cash in Quetzales or Dollars at fair rates. There's also a plethora of foodstands, stores, and even small hotels; likely for truckers that get jammed-up at the border. (The entire 2km stretch between the two immigration offices was lined with semi-trucks waiting for clearance.)I had just missed the bus leaving for Nueva Ocotepeque; the nearest town of any significance which also serves as a transportation hub. It was a brief wait until enough had filled a taxi for the 30-minute ride into town costing 20Lps. The countryside is stunning as roadway weaves through pine-clad mountains.-- From Nueva Ocotepeque, buses head north along Carretera 4 to Santa Rosa de Copán; gateway to the Ruta Lenca (90-minutes; 60Lps; sit on the right side for best views.) From Nueva Ocotepeque, it's also a brief 10-minute ride south for crossing into El Salvador at El Poy.Tip #5 The pair of southwestern Honduras border crossings are not only close together, both must first connect through Chiquimula. If wanting to cross at Agua Caliente, simply request going to Esquipulas. Why? Mention border or la frontera, and barkers will automatically try to ship you off to El Florido towards Copán Ruinas and the Archaeological Site -- because that's where the majority are usually going! Close
Written by ext212 on 13 Jun, 2006
What we will find during our stay in Roatan is mediocre food with prices comparable to New York City. Each bill comes with a 10% tax and a steep 12% service charge. We tried five restaurants during our 4-day stay before we gave up and…Read More
What we will find during our stay in Roatan is mediocre food with prices comparable to New York City. Each bill comes with a 10% tax and a steep 12% service charge. We tried five restaurants during our 4-day stay before we gave up and hired a water taxi driver to take us fishing so that we can catch some fish. If we can’t get a decent meal on the island, well, we just have to get it ourselves! Here's a quick rundown of the restaurants we tried:Forster’sWest BayAs soon as we checked in Bananarama, we walked on the beach in search of our first Honduran meal. We found it at Foster’s down the beach. The fried red snapper was perfectly crisp coated in a light batter and served with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. The rice was fluffy and the beans filling. The conch ceviche was so delicious; I don’t think it lasted on our table for more than five minutes after it was served. Our bill came out to more than $30 with two beers—a little pricey for two dishes but the food was pretty good that we didn’t mind. Everything was going well until our waiter returned to ask for more money. We pointed out that we already included the 12% service charge but he argued that the 12% goes to the cook, not to him. Ahhh, our first night in Honduras and the local is already trying to screw us over. How endearing and how awful it is for the more honest and humble waiters on the island. Bertie’s CreoleWest EndWalking around in the heat left us hungry for lunch before 11am. The local Honduran spots recommended by the water taxi driver were still closed so we ended up at Bertie’s Creole right in front of the small rotunda on the main street of West End. Bertie’s second floor space was our respite from the sun. Unfortunately, the menu had nothing Creolan at all. We ordered fried chicken for $8 and fish soup for $5. The chicken tasted like a chicken McNugget and the soup looked like a Cup Noodle with fish bits in it. The restaurant at the Mayan Princess ResortWest BayThe Mayan Princess is one of the concrete buildings along Roatan’s West Bay. All of the resort’s facilities are for guest use only but they open the restaurant to the public. We decided to avoid the fried chicken because we didn’t want another one that looked like a fast food meal so we ordered the $9 Cuban sandwich and the plate of penne pasta for $8. (The waiter didn’t know what pasta I wanted until he asked me if I was thinking of the “penny” pasta.) The Cuban sandwich was pretty good although I could barely call any food “dinner” especially when it’s held together by a toothpick. The pasta, well, let’s just say the resort didn’t have an Italian grandmother cooking in the kitchen. La PalapaWest BayFrom the same owners of the condo being built right behind it, La Palapa is the quintessential island bar on the beach with the no-nonsense bartenders who can make you fruit drinks spiked with the cheapest liquor. When you’re on island mode, you can’t ask for anything else; anything cold is good enough to drink.You can order burgers, fries, fried plantains, or chips with homemade salsa with your beer. But what earned La Palapa points from this discerning reviewer is how they cooked our fresh fish for us to eat with our beers. We asked the owners if we could ask their chef to cook for us and they only told us to make sure we tip her nicely. Funny enough that when we asked the cook, she told us to ask the owner since she doesn’t know if she can use the kitchen’s oil and gas for food not sold at the bar. We brought two freshly caught red snappers one time for lunch and a grouper for dinner the next day. Both were done so well that La Palapa became our default bar to go to for lunch, some time in the afternoon, during sunset, and after dinner. Good customer service goes so far for me even on Roatan. Tamales LadyWest EndOkay, it’s not a restaurant but a lady walking around West End carrying a basket full of what she calls tamales. They aren’t exactly tamales because instead of masa wrapped in corn husks, she used soft tortillas to wrap chicken, beans and cheese. For 35 limpiras, or $3, for three pieces, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We sat under a tree on the beach and ate three of them under three minutes. My only problem is that I didn’t find her until our very last day.Fried Chicken LadyWest EndIs it a restaurant if the lady cooking at the grill is under a tent? After eating stuffed tortillas, we walked around to get a drink. We came across the white tent in front of the Baptist church on West End and watched the lady grill chicken legs. She was selling them for 75 limpiras, about $4, with a plate of rice and beans and a small Coke. Next to her grill was a plastic table and a couple of chairs. I sat on one of the chairs and my boyfriend positioned himself on top of a crate to eat—the other Honduran lady reading the gossip pages of the local paper couldn’t be bothered to get up so we could eat on the table. It’s okay, though, because the chicken was finally the Central American chicken I’ve been craving the last few days.Velva’sWest EndThis was the restaurant our water taxi driver recommended to us when we asked him where we can get local Honduran food. For our last night, we caught it open for business. The menu is more varied than the other restaurants on the island—their snappers were available blackened (seared in very hot oil) or in tomatillo sauce (a Central American version of Provencal with tomatoes and onions)—that’s two more choices from the usual “fried”! We ordered both but to my chagrin, the waitress told me they ran out of fish the same time she served me the replacement: shrimps. If she told me that they didn’t have any more fish beforehand, I would have ordered something else because I’m not a big fan of shrimps. Alas, I’m a tourist just like everyone else, so I sucked it up and ate it. The blackened fish was on the salty side. We were fighting for the potatoes and the boiled carrots to avoid high blood pressure after dinner. Close
Written by Milvos on 06 Oct, 2001
The "Reserva de la Humanidad y Biosfera del Rio Platano" was declared in 1980 by the Honduran government. The reserve is situated in the North East of Honduras and covers 5251 km². The Reserve is one of the largest areas of forest remaining in Honduras.…Read More
The "Reserva de la Humanidad y Biosfera del Rio Platano" was declared in 1980 by the Honduran government. The reserve is situated in the North East of Honduras and covers 5251 km². The Reserve is one of the largest areas of forest remaining in Honduras. The reserve has a great bio-diversity of eco-systems, vast mangrove swamps, pine forests, savannas, tropical rain forests, and elffin forest. These areas are dissected by numerous rivers which ultimately flow into the Caribbean Sea. In 1980 UNESCO designated Rio Platano a world heritage site.
Four indigenous groups inhabit the Rio Platano, Garifuna, Miskito, Pech, and Sumo (Tawahka). Garifunas are a mix of African and Carribean Indian, The Miskito are a mix of Garifuna and Mosquita Indians (Pech and Tawanka ) while Pech and Tawahka communities remain living there traditional lifestyles in remote regions with in the Biosphere.
This region has been occupied by humans for a long time. Over 80 archaeological sites are located in the biosphere. This includes mysterious petroglyphs carved into large boulders which are found along many rivers edges. The village Las Crucitas del Río Aner in the reserve's south-east is established over what is believed to be one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the biosphere. Little is known about these archaeological sites and the unknown culture that made them. Local legends tell of the existence of a great ancient city in the area called "Ciudad Blanca". This city may still be waiting to be discovered in the Biosphere. Many archaeologists believe that this unknown culture played an important role between the ancient cultures of North and South America.
25% of the biosphere is a flat coastal plain made up of large areas of mangroves, the largest two areas being found around the large coastal lagoons of Brus (120 km²) and Ibans (63 km²) coastal savannas and wetlands that are found behind numerous long stretchs of beach make up the rest of this region.
About 75% of the Biosphere is mountainous with many steep ridges, Pico Morrañanga reaches 1500 m and Punta de Piedra 1326 m. Amazing geological formations are found in the inland region, such as the exposed El Viejo or Pico de Dama. Cascading waterfalls are found regurarly, the highest (100-150 m) being the Cascada del Mirador in the headwaters of the Cuyamel River. This large area mainly consists of tropical rainforest.
Tropical rainforests are broadleaf forests situated in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Tropical rainforests are highly endangered habitats all over the world, due to deforestation and uncontrolled development. Tropical rainforests have the highest biodiversity of all habitats on earth, being home to millions of different and many still undiscovered species. The genetic pool is one of the most important natural resources present on earth, winning more value every day due to the advancing biotechnology. Scientists have found on one hectare of rainforest some 200 different tree and shrub species. On one big rainforest tree biologists counted 54
species of ants, more than in the whole of England.
One of the secrets of the biodiversity of tropical rainforests is the appearance of a vertical organization of species. Up to five different levels of plants, including the forest canopy, are found. Each level is formed by specific species, and is populated by different animals.
In the higher regions pine and low lying cloudforest can be found, also in some of the high exposed regions small areas of rare elfin forest exist. The vegetation of the elfin forest has adapted to the poor soils and the strong carribean trade winds. Trees with some 100 years of age, that are normally found up to 40 mts tall in the lower parts of the biosphere, here only reach 3 to 5 meters. The trees are covered under a thick layer of mosses and lichens.
Some of the tree species found growing in the reserve include, Balsa, Ceiba, Guayacan, Mahogany, Rosewood, Sapodilla, Santa Maria, Cedar and Pine. It has been proven that the biosphere contains more tree species per square hectare than the Amazon jungle. A quite amazing fact.
The variety of ecosystems in the biosphere provides habitats for many endangered and rare species. The coastal and river areas are home to Manatees, Southern River Otters, Leather Back and Green Sea Turtles and Caiman. The forested areas are home to Baird's tapir; Jaguar, Ocelot, Margay Cat, Jaguarundi, Cougar, Collared and White- lipped Peccaries, White-faced, Howler and Spider Monkeys, White Tailed Deer, Two and Three Toed Sloth and Giant Anteaters just to name a few. The biosphere contains the largest populations in Honduras of most of these endangered species. The protection of the reserve is of great importance to the survival of each of these species.
Over 375 bird species are found in the biosphere. The biosphere is also visited by many migratory species. And is of great importance for them. Many rare species of birds that are found in the region can not be seen in other parts of the country. Species such as the Harpy Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Great Green and Scarlet Macaws, Green and Rufous Kingfisher, Chestnut-Mandible Toucan, Yellow Eared Toucanet, Jabiru and the Black and White Hawk Eagle. Again the protection of the biosphere is of great importance to the survival of each of these species.
Visiting the Rio Platano Biosphere is an unforgetable experience, It is possible to visit this wonderful area independently but it is very difficult due to the areas remoteness and limited facilities. In a few of the communities Palacios, Las Marias, Playitas and Kuri local guides can be organised as can accommodation. The best obition for visiting the area is with a Tour Operator, the better companies know this area extremely well, and put together a once in a lifetime experience.
The natural resources of the Rio Platano Biosphere are under pressure, from logging of the areas valueable timber, from settlers using slash and burn agriculture and the expansion of cattle farming in the areas surrouding the biospheres core zone. Also as the local populations grow, more and more alternative, sustanible sources of income are needed. Eco Tourism is such an alternative. By visiting the biosphere you are contributing to the local economy, this is very important as the main source of income for these local communities are logging or slash and burn agriculture.
By visiting this area you play an important role, you are helping to protect and save this unique and beatiuful area and all the species that live here.
Written by SaraP on 08 Sep, 2006
Your alternatives to Roatan are Utila (c29 km) or Guanaja (c70 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba.
Both are of course also surrounded by vast coral reefs with prolific undersea life and diving/snorkeling is their mainstay for visitors. Utila is known the…Read More
Your alternatives to Roatan are Utila (c29 km) or Guanaja (c70 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba.
Both are of course also surrounded by vast coral reefs with prolific undersea life and diving/snorkeling is their mainstay for visitors. Utila is known the smallest of the major islands in the group and claims to the least expensive. They were "discovered" by Columbus in the early 1500s and later settled by Cayman Islanders (which is partly why both Spanish and English are spoken there). Guanaja has no roads and locals travel by boat, including a channel which islanders call, "the cut", allowing access from the south side to the north without having to go all the way around.
Utila claims to have over 60 different scuba diving sites, including caves and numerous wrecks (such as the famous "Halliburton"), and is also famous for divers encountering whale sharks when they migrate past the islands (the whale shark is the world's largest fish at 12-18m, a slow-moving and harmless zooplankton, snapper egg, and shrimp eating fish which grows up to which is quite majestic to behold close up.
At the SW end of Utila are a small collection of tiny islands, some just 100 feet across and 1-2 feet above sea level. The 2 main Cays, Suc-Suc (Pigeon) and Jewel Cay, are inhabited by local fisherman and the descendants of the Cayman original settlers who arrived here from in 1836.
There’s a regular passenger ferry running twice a day from La Ceiba or you can fly on one of several daily flights (not all of which are direct).
Both islands are far less developed than Roatan and don’t have the same numbers of chain outlets or large-scale hotels (though there are some luxury resorts and their number is increasing quite fast). You’re much more likely to hook up with a local than a new-ish arrival as most are run by local families or people living here.
Written by dcrates on 20 Feb, 2006
We had the fortunate experience of staying at The Sante Wellness Center over Christmas, 2005. We arrived there by a short boat ride (2 minutes) from across the bay where Leon, one of the owners of the Center, greeted us and picked us up. Once…Read More
We had the fortunate experience of staying at The Sante Wellness Center over Christmas, 2005. We arrived there by a short boat ride (2 minutes) from across the bay where Leon, one of the owners of the Center, greeted us and picked us up. Once at the center, what first struck us was the peacefulness and solitude of the location. Only birds and waves crashing could be heard. Fortunately, we were the only ones there for the week, so we had the pick of the place to stay. We choose a larger room nearer the pool and shoreline and attached to the main house. Excellent choice as the sunsets were great from the hammock and the friendly house dogs would come to greet you daily. Parrots and toucans squawked regularly to remind you that you were in the tropics. Snorkeling was absolutely the best from this location, since we were the only ones on this beach. Complete solitude and beauty.The Center caters to cruise ship people coming to visit the island for the day. Regardless, our accommodations made us feel like we were visiting a close friend's home, or relatives. The room was very clean with all the comforts of home. The staff was well trained and very courteous. We never once felt pushed or rushed in the midst of people coming and going for treatments.The spa itself is first run, and could hold itself to any spa of this kind in the United States. I had a full body massage by the professionally trained staff, and I never have felt better. My girlfriend had several treatments, including Thai Massage and facial treatments that were like heaven to her.Angela, a co-owner with Leon, is an excellent hostess and always provided what we wanted, and allowed ample privacy always. We had several meals at the Center, and they were excellent! Incredible BBQ shrimp, hearty breakfasts, and drinks were always available.Their knowledge of the island is indispensable and if you need a suggestion on activities, they are right there with the real scoop on a location's value.All in all this was an excellent, relaxing trip.http://www.santewellnesscenter.com/ Close
Written by smileskey on 27 Apr, 2005
We went to Guanaja, first discovered by Columbus in 1502, because it was Semana Santa and the main bay island, Roatan, was packed. We had heard good things about Guanaja from friends, so we gave it a shot. Too bad the End of the World…Read More
We went to Guanaja, first discovered by Columbus in 1502, because it was Semana Santa and the main bay island, Roatan, was packed. We had heard good things about Guanaja from friends, so we gave it a shot. Too bad the End of the World Resort treated everyone so poorly. Otherwise, the island is beautiful and the people are very unique. They speak a type of Creole, English mixed with Spanish, and hang out at the bars like Saskatchewan farmers do. We ended up hanging out at the bar of the hotel next to ours called Island House, which had friendly locals instead of an obnoxious American running the place. Their drinks were cheaper and the view was AMAZING.
The only way around the island is buy boat, so you're pretty much stuck if you choose to go to either of these resorts, which are on the opposite island of the main town and the other resorts. However, we did get a small tour of the main town, Bonacca, on our way to the airport. It's a very interesting place - with over 10,000 residents, the city is mostly built on stilts! Almost all the houses are in the water, and walkways and boats are the only means of getting around this city. Near the city, but in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, you can see a solitary dome-shaped structure. Locals told us that it was one of the only buildings to survive Hurricane Mitch in 1998! It's definitely a sight to see.
What we've heard from other travelers is that Posada del Sol is definitely the place to stay in Guanaja. However, it is currently undergoing "financial restructuring," so at this time, it is still closed. Others stayed at Dunbar Rock, which is really an amazing structure as well. However, unless you're into scuba diving, there isn't much else to do. Finally, getting to and from Guanaja is an adventure in itself. Three major airlines, Sosa, Islena, and Atlantica, fly in and out of the island, but the planes are small, and safety? Well, we're still alive! Next time we try the Bay Islands, we're going to go to Roatan. We've heard great things about it.
Written by email@example.com on 27 Jul, 2005
I did a lot of research before my trip about the safety of the roads between Guatemala and Honduras. More so than the other roads in Guatemala, this path seemed to suffer from the majority of road blocks and robberies. Therefore, I asked one of…Read More
I did a lot of research before my trip about the safety of the roads between Guatemala and Honduras. More so than the other roads in Guatemala, this path seemed to suffer from the majority of road blocks and robberies. Therefore, I asked one of the employees at Antigua Tours, which had set up our transportation from the airport, where we could go for the safest transport into Honduras. He directed us to the Hedman Alas office in Antigua, 502/919-7473. Click here for their website.
This had to be the most expensive bus ticket I would ever buy in Central America. The cost was nearly US$41, or Q323.50, each. I had no idea what made this bus company so special, and I could barely bring myself to hand over the money. But my respect for Antigua Tours' recommendation, along with the fear of possible robberies going another way, enabled me to bear the high price.
We were up early for transport to the capital to catch the Hedman Alas bus. Amazingly, our hotel staff in Antigua knocked on our doors a full 30 minutes before we expected the shuttle to arrive. There was a first: an early bus! We were taken swiftly to the capital, avoiding traffic or running around to pick up other passengers. Our driver helped us with our bags into the Hedman Alas terminal, which was small, clean, and quiet.
Immediately, I noticed the fresh coffee brewing in the waiting room. I confirmed our seats on the bus with the receptionist, who directed a staff member to tag our luggage and stow it underneath the bus. I was immediately weary (as I always am) of my bags leaving my sight, but I knew that there was something much different about this company. Dad and I sipped coffee while we watched the Discovery Channel and waited for the bus to be ready.
It was apparent that we'd be the only gringos aboard the bus that day, and it seemed that only the Guatemalan middle and upper classes were taking Hedman Alas. We were witness to a very touching scene of a family who was obviously parting ways for a long while; the mother and grown son could barely let each other go. The mother cried quietly while her son kissed her forehead and petted her hair. After several "final" goodbyes, the son would always rush back to his mother and hug her once more, until she finally boarded the bus and he had to stand and watch her go.
A security team checked all the bags being carried into the bus, and we had to cross a metal detector. We noticed they searched us far less than they did any of the other passengers, but I'd expected that to be opposite the case. I had heard once that the Guatemalan government trusts foreigners much more than they do their own citizens, and suddenly I wondered if that might actually be true.
The bus was definitely first-class: it was immaculately clean and a Jennifer Aniston movie played for our entertainment on overhead television screens. Our ayudante was dressed in a collared shirt, tie, and a badge holder that said "I Love Jesus." He served us a small loaf of cinnamon bread and juice, gathered our passports, and handed out appropriate forms so he could do all the work at the border for us.
At one point, Dad and I caught a glimpse of our real security team, which was following behind the bus in a personal vehicle. As we stopped to get gas, we saw the truck pull in with four male occupants, each with an automatic weapon. We gasped, and I felt again the pang of nervousness for my decision to travel here, but realized then why the great expense and felt a little more secure. By the time we reached the border, the security men had gone, and we were left alone for the final 30 minutes of travel on Honduran roads. Even in the dusty dry season, the scenery along the way from Guatemala City to Copan Ruinas is interesting and varied.
Pleasant, comfortable, and safe, I'd recommend this company for the traveler who can afford it, or for someone whose sick to death of the slow and cramped conditions of chicken-bus travel.