Near La Esperanza
Seven kilometers from La Esperanza is one of the most traditional Lenca communities in the country, Yamaranguila. Although they don’t see a lot of tourists, residents are accustomed to outsiders, as a Peace Corps agricultural training center is nearby. On certain holidays, traditional dances like the guancascos can be seen, though it’s hard to find out when and where the dance will be held. You could try asking the local alcalde (mayor) for more information on the festivals.
Near Yamaranguila is an impressive waterfall, reached by footpath—just ask for directions to La Chorrera. Yamaranguila can easily be reached by frequent buses from La Esperanza (US$0.50).
On the dirt road heading to San Francisco de Opalaca, 11 kilometers from La Esperanza, is Laguna Chiligatoro, a picturesque spot to relax and go for a ride in a rowboat, available for rental at the lake. There is a simple restaurant and a nature trail in the surrounding pine forest.
There are four supposedly protected natural areas in Intibucá: Montaña Opalaca, Mixcure, Montecillos, and Montaña Verde. Unfortunately, much of the forests have already been severely logged, leaving little of the original flora and fauna intact. Because of its isolated location, only Refugio de Vida Silvestre Montaña Verde is still worth visiting, but getting into the forest is no easy task.
Located near the border of the Lempira department, in the San Francisco de Opalaca municipality, Montaña Verde can be reached by first getting a bus or jalón from La Esperanza to the village of Monte Verde, where a guide can be hired to explore the mountain. As yet, no trails exist, and facilities are limited, but the forest is reputed to be very beautiful and intact. Topographical maps covering the reserve are 1:50,000 La Iguala 2559 IV and La Unión 2560 III.
For those with an exploratory inclination, the high, pine-forested hill country around La Esperanza provides lovely hiking and mountain biking and is generally considered to be quite safe. A nearby “dwarf forest” is touted as a tourist attraction, but worth visiting only for the most devout bonsai nut.
A special market called Mercado Hijas de Intibucá is held 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Friday–Sunday, in the village of Maracía, a few kilometers outside of La Esperanza on the highway to Siguatepeque. Homegrown fruits and vegetables, plants, and homemade foods are brought and sold by Lencan women from the surrounding area, to sell in what is surely one of the cleanest markets in all of Honduras.
If the weather is warm and you have kids in tow, the Aqua Park El Molino (tel. 504/783-1411, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri.–Sun.) is at kilometer 37 on the highway La Esperanza–Jesús de Otoro. There are three pools, a restaurant, and swimsuits available for rent if you’ve forgotten yours.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition