With its rugged landscape and varied climate, Honduras is an ideal destination for travelers looking to get outdoors and into nature.
There is a fantastic assortment of forested countryside, some with marked trails, and much of it without, but the scenery is spectacular and the friendly locals are always happy to point you the way. The area roughly between Santa Rosa de Copán, Gracias, La Esperanza, and the Salvadoran border is one of the best for backcountry hiking, with endless green mountains dotted with picturesque Lenca villages.
The most popular hike in this area is up to the cloud forests at Parque Nacional Celaque, near Gracias, and the circuit from La Campa to Belén Gualcho makes for a fascinating few days. The well-organized parks of La Tigra and Cerro Azul/Meámbar have several marked trails that offer easy day-hiking, while the latter also boasts less-visited areas best reached with a guide in multiday trips.
With its Class III, IV, and V rapids, the Río Cangrejal on Honduras’s north coast boasts some of the premier white-water rafting in Central America. The raging river bordered by lush jungle is easily accessible to the traveler short on time through a day trip from La Ceiba, and more enjoyable still when experienced in conjunction with a night in one of the lodges tucked along the river’s winding edge. The nearby Río Zacate is another popular rafting destination.
Those with a bit more time can book a trip down the Río Patuca through Olancho and the Mosquitia—all on a balsa-wood raft that you build yourself the first afternoon of the journey.
Honduras is a world-class destination for birding aficionados, with over 700 species at last count inhabiting the many different ecosystems in the country. For diversity of species in a relatively small area, Lago de Yojoa is hard to beat, attracting hundreds of species of birds to the varied ecosystems around the lake, easily accessible to go prowling with your binoculars. At the transition between the tropical lowlands and the higher mountain forests, the lake region attracts species from both habitats, as well as a variety of migrants.
Right outside of Tela are the botanical gardens at Lancetilla, a tropical research station that is one of the premier birding spots in the country, with hundreds of species including motmot, trogon, tanager, antshrike, and many more. Along the coast close to Tela are mangrove wetlands and jungle at Punta Izopo and Punta Sal, with opportunities to spot herons, terns, kingfishers, trogons, pelicans, and gulls. Even more impressive are the extensive coastal jungles of Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, near La Ceiba, with a myriad of species including eagles, hawks, motmots, kites, and trogons.
The most accessible places to scout for cloud forest species like resplendent quetzals, emerald toucanets, tanagers, many hummingbirds, and others are two national parks, La Tigra near Tegucigalpa and Cusuco outside of San Pedro Sula. Each of these can be easily visited in a day trip.
Dedicated cavers can get their fix at one of the more adventurous sets of caves in Honduras, such as the Cuevas de Susmay in Olancho, requiring headlamps, good shoes, and even a swim to explore the main tunnels. The Cuevas de Taulabé in central Honduras are said to hold hidden treasure within their crevices, while Olancho’s Cuevas de Talgua were once a cemetery for glittering human bones. Both have paved walkways for the novice, while experienced guides are happy to take those looking for a challenge into the less-explored depths.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition