A portion of the old camino real, now a dirt road, passes near Santa Rosa, beginning in the village of San Agustín, beyond Dulce Nombre de Copán. From here you can walk over the crest of the mountains down to Santa Rita, near Copán Ruinas, in a day. It’s also fairly easy to catch a jalón on a passing pickup truck along the scenic road, which comes out by Hacienda El Jaral, just north of Santa Rita.
Near the camino real, on the south side, close to the highest point in the road, is the privately owned Monte Quetzal, a 1,900-meter mountain with dense cedar forest and plenty of its avian namesakes flitting among the trees. On the top of Monte Quetzal is a lush fern forest. An old mine, abandoned in 1965, can be explored up to 200 meters into the hillside. Max Elvir of Lenca Travel knows the owner and can arrange trips there for US$25 a day per person for a small group.
Although Monte Quetzal is rich with its namesake birds, quetzals are notoriously difficult to spot, but with a bit of luck and patience, you just might see the long-tailed bird. Easier to spot are the countless centennial trees, including cedar, liquidambar (American sweet gum), oak, and calabash.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition