Do you like to take the road less traveled? If so, make your next trip to Honduras. As James D. Gollin proclaims in his book, Adventures in Nature, “Honduras has more extensive rain forests and cloud forests than Costa Rica, Mayan ruins comparable to those of Guatemela, better beaches than Nicaragua, a more peaceful political climate than El Salvador, safer cities than those of Panama, and the greatest undeveloped wilderness area in all of Central America.”
Honduras is the most mountainous country in Central America, and at 112,492 square kilometers is the 2nd largest country in Central America. The average altitude is 1,000 feet above sea level. The highest peak is in Celaque
National Park at 9,275 feet. The volcanic backbone in Honduras separates the coastal ecosystems of the Pacific and Caribbean oceans. 40% of Honduras is rain forest and there are 509 miles of extraordinary beaches – the best, they say, in Central America; white on the Caribbean side, and black on the Pacific coast. May through September is the rainy season. You’ll still get wet from September through February, just not drenched, necessarily. Beware of hurricanes in late summer through November, and bring a jacket for the evenings in December and January.
Environmental tourism is a priority in Honduras. The people and the land of Honduras are fortunate. They did not get the influx of resort developers before they had the time to understand the importance of ecological and cultural preservation. There are opportunities for the people of Honduras to use standard means of sustaining their economy – raising cattle on once pristine forestland or selling timber that currently hugs the virgin rain forest. Instead, many environmental leaders believe in the value of tourism as an integral part of preservation of the land and culture, and actively promote and support tourism programs in Honduras that create environmental awareness in Honduras, as well as economic development.
Adventure in Honduras is not hard to come by. Spectacular waterfalls originating from the cloud forests pour into raging rivers and subsequently make for tremendous whitewater rafting and kayaking. The Cangrejal River was the kayak-pioneering river in Honduras. Today, the Rios Cangrejal is the most rafted river in Honduras.
National Parks in Honduras include Parque Nacional Montana de Comayagua. The park is a cloud forest and wildlife haven, located near the colonial town of Comayagua. The wildlife is reminiscent of Costa Rica’s wildlife and includes quetzals, toucans, white-faced monkeys, and sloths. ECOSIMCO, the non-governmental body that works at protection of and within the park, provides information on visiting the park.
Parque Nacional Santa Barbara is a threatened park located just outside of the city of Santa Barbara. A mountain range separates Santa Barbara and Lake Yojoa within the park. Forests are being cleared here due to the fact that landless campesinos are obtaining land within the park. Deforestation continues to threaten the habitats here. Nevertheless, travelers can attempt a hike to the mountain summit. With the help of a guide, adventurers can trek from Santa Barbara over the summit to the Lake.
A near perfect diving experience awaits Tropical Adventure’s scuba diving enthusiasts. Amongst the warm, clear waters divers are sure to encounter multicolored fish of all shapes and sizes, as well as gorgeous corals and sponges. The reefs are abundant off of the coast and continue to provide divers a magical experience. Although seemingly indestructible, the reefs in such places as Bay Island are under threat of ecological damage. Organizations such as Reefkeeper International based out of Florida are directly involved in conserving these reefs. All organizations involved encourage divers not to stop diving, but to keep hands, and feet, off of the reefs.
Roatan is the most developed of the islands of Honduras. Although Roatan is somewhat modern, with a mall, movie theatre and nightlife, visitors are not far away from some fantastic soft adventure activities. Barbareta Marine National Park, on the eastern tip of Roatan, offers rain forest and mangrove exploration. Tropical Adventures’ Honduras outfitter Tropical Beach Resort offers water taxi Eco-tours, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing. Owner, Jean Christenson describes a popular activity, “The Pirate Hunt Island tour and Diving Tour is a favorite trip. There are still many sights on the Island where the pirates stayed. We can still see these spots, and can recognize where their cannons stood, plus much more. We have actually have found pirate bottles dating back about 300 years ago.”
What about the more remote areas of Honduras, you might ask? In Valle de Angeles travelers can venture up amongst the tops of the forest on a canopy tour. Becky Wearns, of Honduras This Week, describes her experience on this gutsy adventure, “The tour itself is made up of a series of different velocity lines and as your confidence builds you are encouraged to experiment with different stunts. Releasing your hand from the rope and bringing your knees up leaves you hanging upside down, blood rushing to your head as you tear through the trees watching the sky spin above you. To take this to a nauseating next level the more adventurous, or crazy, of us paired up with instructor to hang completely upside down as they swing you to and fro from your ankles whilst careening to the next platform at break-neck speed.”
Volunteering in Honduras is readily available and can offer travelers a more rewarding encounter with the people of the country. There are several organizations that can provide this opportunity. Here are a few:
Coral Cay Conservation, Roatan
Paramedics For Children, Copan
Conservation Project Utila, Iguana, Utila
Cofradia’s Bilingual School, Cofradia
There’s so much to do and see in Honduras. Don’t hesitate to contact Tropical Adventure’s outfitter, Tropical Beach Resort, in Roatan, Bay Islands Honduras to learn more about this unique country, and to begin planning your trip.
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