Planning Your Time
An afternoon downtown and a meal out will be enough to satisfy most travelers’ curiosity about Tegucigalpa. An hour from the capital is Parque Nacional La Tigra, with a network of trails through its cloud forest ranging from an easy 45-minute walk to all-day treks that can turn into relaxing overnighters at the ghost mining town of El Rosario. Nearby are the colonial villages of Santa Lucía and Valle de Ángeles, the latter a mecca for handicraft shopping.
Farther afield are Ojojona, Cedros, and Yuscarán, all of which make for entertaining excursions from the city. Yuscarán is especially charming, one of the prettiest little towns in the country, with plenty of cloud forest, petroglyphs, and abandoned mines to keep visitors busy for a day or two.
The highway past Yuscarán continues to the Nicaraguan border at [nodeL82900 link Las Manos] via Danlí, a mid-sized town with a few colonial structures and several cigar factories worth a day’s visit.
Isla del Tigre, or Amapala, as it is more often referred to, is a popular if off-beat getaway for residents of Tegucigalpa. An island with a volcanic cone in the center and a dozen beaches around it, it takes an overnighter to get a proper taste of the place, and to have time for a boat ride through the other islands and mangrove forests around the Golfo de Fonseca.
The other larger cities of the south—Choluteca, San Lorenzo, and Nacaome—have limited tourist appeal. On the other hand, a couple of the smaller towns are great jumping-off points for explorations of the countryside. El Corpus is a quiet mining village just 17 kilometers—but a world away—from the bustling streets of Choluteca, and an interesting outing if you’re in the neighborhood.
Farther east, close to the Nicaraguan border and well worth going out of your way for, is the small town of San Marcos de Colón, a base for great hikes in the dry tropical forests of La Botija. Visits to the forest are doable with one night camping out from San Marcos, but it’s better to plan for at least two nights to have more opportunity to explore. The towns that produce the famous black and white clay pottery are also located close to Nacaome.
Avoid having to spend the night in any of the border towns discussed in this section, as facilities are minimal.
Greko Tours (tel. 504/239-5998 or 504/239-5999, cell 504/998-0304, www.grekotours.com) runs one-day tours of Tegucigalpa (US$36 solo, or US$18 pp with a group), Valle de Ángeles and Santa Lucía (same prices), La Tigra National Park (US$54 solo or US$21 with a group), as well as farther afield to Comayagua, Amapala, Lago de Yojoa, Olancho, and Copán at reasonable rates for two or more people. Buses with drivers are available for special group trips.
Arrecife Tours (tel. 504/239-1782 or 504/239-1783, www.arrecifetours.com) has similar city and regional tours costing about the same as Greko. It also runs a three-day, two-night tour of Tegucigalpa and vicinity, with hotels included.
Explore Honduras (in Edificio Medicast, Ste. 206, Blvd. Morazán, tel. 504/236-9003 or 504/236-7694, www.explorehonduras.com) is a third company with city and area tours, at slightly higher costs than the other two.
Destinos de Éxito (tel. 504/236-9651, www.destinosdeexito.com) also offers tours of the city, La Tigra, Santa Lucía, and Valle de Ángeles.
Like any big city in a poor country, Tegucigalpa can be a dangerous place. The great majority of visitors will have no problems at all. Pickpockets and (less frequently) muggings are a concern throughout the city. Be aware that the upscale neighborhood Colonia Palmira has become a popular spot for muggings, where would-be thieves are especially on the lookout for people with cell phones or laptops, and people walking alone.
Comayagüela is well known as the most dangerous part of the capital, although the worst areas are neighborhoods where travelers are unlikely to visit, such as Carrizal along the hillside—walking on the main streets during the day shouldn’t be a problem, but the market is a bit sketchier. Avoid walking around at night anywhere in the city.
One mugging tactic is to have two persons on a motorcycle, which slows as it passes you, and the rider yanks your purse or pack off your shoulder. Keep packs on both shoulders and purses with the strap over one shoulder and crossing your body, or keep your bag on the shoulder away from the street to make yourself less of a target for this type of mugging.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition