Updated: Aug 3
The fact: not many people would consider travel to Honduras.
The intrigue: that it is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside of war zones) and that one of it's largest cities is the former "murder capital of the world". So of course, I wanted to dig deeper.
Most people just choose to visit the coast in Roatan, often on cruise ships departing from Europe or US, but that's not what we did. We ventured into the inland to explore the lush jungles of Pico Bonito, where such untouched wilderness awaited us, we were lost for words. We immersed ourselves in the wonders of the rainforest, hiked through ancient trails, encountered exotic wildlife, and learned about the traditions of the indigenous community of Honduras.
This is the part where we look beyond gang wars, and embark on a thrilling adventure in one one of the most underrated and least visited countries in Central America. Read on to know more about our journey as we share firsthand experiences, travel tips, and the hidden gems of Honduras.
10 DAY ITINERARY
3 days San Pedro Sula. Tela. Garifuna People. Botanical garden for bird watching Copan Ruins. Macaw Mountains
3 days Lake Yojoa
3 days Pico Bonito National Park
1 day Roatan Day Trip
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Lacentilla Botanical Garden - bird watching
FLIGHTS + VISA
We flew with Copa Airlines, it was a short trip from Miami to Honduras via Panama.
Like in most Central American countries, the Visa is on arrival and free of cost if you hold a valid US visa that has been used previously + the validity of the US visa has to be more than 6 months.
Spanish is the main language. No one in the city or outside speaks any English. Get used to it fast.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. The weather is warm and sunny, with very little rain. We went in July and had thunderstorms only in the evenings.
We used dollars and our card throughout but it's best to carry Honduran Lempira for local transportation and purchases.
HOW TO GET AROUND
If you are on a budget, I would suggest hitchhiking or getting in Chicken buses to make your way through the country. However, this requires a lot of time, planning and knowing Spanish. If your Spanish is rusty (like ours) then it's best to get a shared taxi or private taxi to and between places. Also, for safety reasons, this is what I would advise.
As per usual, I found an amazing guide to take us around. Eli Gonzalez. Could not recommend him enough. Write to me here if you need his contact details.
Before you travel to San Pedro Sula, research the areas you'll be visiting and the safety risks. We stayed in one of the safest neighborhoods and had no issues whatsoever. The tourists are not targets in these places, so just be aware of your surroundings, avoid drawing attention to yourself.
WHERE WE STAYED
San Pedro Sula
I found this stunner of a property on Booking.com. It was so safe and the host was a star.
D&D Brewery is one of the best places to stay in Lake Yojoa. The proximity to all adventure activities, the vegetarian menu and huge portions were all a huge plus.
Pico Bonito Park We spent one night camping but he last two nights were spent in Omega Lodge, another fantastic eco-lodge in the jungle. The food options were not bad and the room was great.
VEGAN + VEGETARIAN FOOD
Honduran cuisine leans heavily towards meat but there are some vegan dishes full of flavor and color like baleadas. Here are a bunch of local vegan dishes you can try in Honduras.
Tela + Garifuna People
The island's white sand beaches are perfect for those seeking relaxation. We are not beach people... but for those of you who do love it, you can bask under palm trees while enjoying views of turquoise waters, take a refreshing swim, or engage in snorkeling and diving.
Authentic cultural experiences are an integral part of traveling for us. We had the opportunity to learn more about the vibrant traditions of the Garifuna community. While dancing to the rhythmic beats of drums and the melodies of traditional songs, the echoes of ancestry resonated within our souls. We exchanged stories, shared laughs while understanding their hardships. Their eyes and beautiful faces weave tales of resilience.
Lacentilla Botanical Gardens
The second largest garden in the world with thousand species of endemic and plants from all over the world.
Although, that's not why we came here. Our guide is a bird-watcher and we learned that Honduras is heaven for bird watching. We found so many incredible species of them.
Copan Ruins - Unraveling Ancient Mysteries
The ancient Mayan civilization is such a fascinating chapter in the narrative of Central America.
You can't visit Honduras without immersing yourself in the intriguing tales etched into the stone walls at Copan. The Copan Ruins are a must-visit for history buffs.
As we wandered amidst these impressive Mayan ruins, we noticed the differences and began comparing them to the ruins in Tikal. In all honesty, there was no comparison. The intricate carvings and stelae on these ruins tell stories of a bygone era. The sense of wonder grew as imagined the vibrant civilization that once thrived here.
Copan was once an important city within the grandeur of the Mayan empire. This archaeological site boasts intricately carved stelae and altars - remnants from a time when it thrived as an artistic and cultural hub between AD 426-820. The Hieroglyphic Stairway here holds great significance with its monumental inscriptions narrating dynastic lineage over centuries.
Intricate carvings on these structures serve as windows into their past - offering glimpses into rituals, royal ascensions, victories over rival kingdoms. The best part for me was being able to watch countless macaws fly over the ruins, as they've been watching over this sacred site for centuries... which brings to our next attraction, just 10 minutes away from Copan..
Macaw Mountains - An Animal Lover's Paradise
Calling all fellow wildlife enthusiasts - the Macaw Mountains are your Eden. Macaws are the national birds of Honduras but they are endangered due to deforestation and poaching. This is how they repopulation has been happening - and they have succeeded to a large extent.
As we set foot in the enchanting realm of Macaw Mountains, we felt an instant thrill of witnessing vibrant splashes of color come to life. There was already the chatter of exotic birds echoed through the dense foliage, and it didn't take long for us to spot them – the magnificent Macaws. The sight of these majestic creatures in this protect habitat was a soul-stirring moment. There is commendable work being done by the team at the sanctuary.
Macaw Mountains had more in store for us than just fleeting glances of winged wonders. We stumbled onto little corners the where different birds gathered together creating a captivating spectacle. Watching these social birds interact was a reminder of the importance of preserving their habitat and protecting the delicate balance of nature. We left the place with a renewed appreciation for the beauty of Honduras and a resolve to spread the word about the magic that awaits those who venture to this biodiverse haven. Embrace the magnificence of nature and get ready to be spellbound by these feathered gems that call Honduras their home.
Nestled amidst the verdant landscapes of Honduras lies a hidden gem that stole my heart – Lake Yojoa.
The glistening waters of Lake Yojoa, embraced by rolling hills and lush forests, create a mesmerizing sight that's straight out of a fairytale. From the moment we set foot on its shores, I felt an instant connection with the tranquility of this natural wonder. What makes Lake Yojoa truly special is the sense of community that envelops you as you explore its wonders. We loved staying in the D&D Brewery - whether it's the helpful smiles of the locals sharing tales of the lake's folklore , every interaction felt like a delightful chapter in a travel novel. The people of Honduras are just fantastic.
Imagine this: you're standing at the edge of a lush, tropical forest. The anticipation builds as you hear the distant rumble of water cascading down the rocky cliffs. It's like nature's symphony, calling you to embrace an adrenaline-packed adventure.
We donned our protective gear and made our way down to the thunderous sound of gushing water. As we turned a corner, there it was – a breathtaking display of grandeur! Pulphanzahk Waterfall stands tall and proud, its emerald waters plunging into a crystal-clear pool below. A magical rainbow shining like feathers on a peacocks head. Oh, but we are not here for just any stroll through the park. There are two ways to experience this waterfall - zipline or hike behind the waterfall.
We chose the latter. Our guide took us behind an enclosed section of the park - we could feel the excitement building in the pit of our stomachs. With every step we took, the spray from the falls hit us like a burst of invigorating energy. It's as if Mother Nature herself was giving us a high-five for daring to venture into her secret world.
As we walked behind the waterfall, the sheer power of nature left us breathless. So, grab your courage and get ready embrace the thrill of walking behind this mighty waterfall. It's a bucket-list adventure you'll treasure forever.
To book: have the D&D Brewery team take you to the falls. Costs $17 per person todo this.
Just a stones throw away from the lodge is a huge bio park to walk through with cascading waterfalls, streams and Azul-colored lakes.
Trekking and Camping in Pico Bonito National Park
Embarking on a trekking and camping adventure in Pico Bonito National Park is like stepping into a realm of untamed beauty. As we ventured into the heart of this forest, I was immediately captivated by the symphony of sounds – the gentle rustle of leaves, the melodious songs of exotic birds, and the soothing rush of nearby streams. Each step brought us closer to the grandeur of the towering Pico Bonito mountain, shrouded in mist like a mystical guardian of the park. The trails, adorned with vibrant flora and fauna, and with every ascent, the panoramic views left us breathless.
This hike is called El Bejuco Waterfall hike and it can take about 4 hours if you are reasonably fit. In non-rainy season, I would rate this hike 7/10 not so much for the altitude gain but more for the lack of trails - for 80% of the time, we were just on narrow paths climbing massive boulders.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, we pitched our tents beneath a star-studded sky, immersing ourselves in the wild embrace of Pico Bonito. The crackling campfire, laughter, and stories exchanged with our fantastic guides around it created cherished memories that filled our souls with a profound sense of connection to each other.
The next morning, during sunrise, time seemed to slow down, allowing us to savor every moment and appreciate the beauty of the towering mountains. The park's biodiversity is truly a treasure trove.. rare mushrooms peeked out from the foliage and colorful butterflies danced in the sunlight. I was in awe of Honduras' commitment to conservation and its role in preserving these delicate ecosystems.
To book: contact Emilio tp book the experience for you. Costs $150 per person for everything.
How to get there
The best way to get to Roatan is from La Ceiba, by taking a 90 minute ferry. It costs $72 per person for a two-way trip. if you decide to do a day trip like us, then the first ferry leaves at 9 a.m. and leaves from Roatan back to La Ceiba at 2 p.m.
There is really only one reason we added this rather touristy spot to our itinerary - the Daniel Johnson's Sloth and Monkey Sanctuary. As we ventured into the jungle sanctuary, we were instantly greeted by the gentle souls of the sloths, who moved at their own unhurried pace, as if they were wise guardians of this haven. It was a surreal moment as we learned more about the sanctuary's commitment to protecting these adorable creatures and providing them with a safe space to thrive. The passionate team at the sanctuary shared valuable insights on how to interact with the sloths responsibly and ethically. They emphasized the importance of keeping a respectful distance and allowing these beautiful beings to approach us on their own terms. And oh, when one of these furry angels approached me, the connection I felt was pure magic. While the desire to give these gentle creatures a warm embrace is overwhelming, the sanctuary ensures that we show love in a way that's best for them. Under the guidance of the knowledgeable staff, I was able to gently hug a sloth without causing them any stress or discomfort. It was a rare privilege to feel their soft fur against my skin and share a moment of serenity with these slow-moving guardians of nature.
The sanctuary's commitment to the well-being of the wildlife here was evident in every aspect of the experience. From educating visitors on animal conservation to providing a safe environment for them to flourish, Daniel Johnson's Sloth and Monkey Sanctuary sets an inspiring example of responsible tourism. If you're an animal lover like me, seeking a heartwarming encounter, don't miss this one.
Honduras is scary if you are one of those people who take everything splashed all over the whitewashed media to heart.
As I often say, there is more to a place. You don't know the reality, until you go.
Whether it was exploring the hidden waterfalls, cooling off in the crystal-clear pools, or simply basking in the tranquility of the wilderness, every experience in Honduras felt like a glimpse into a world untouched by time.
The untapped country is like a sanctuary of serenity of the natural world's finest creations. No matter what you enjoy, from Caribbean beaches to rainforests or ancient Mayan ruins, Honduras is a treasure trove for every kind of intrepid explorer daring to go here.
Thanks for reading. Leave your questions and comments below.
Lots of love,