Southwest of Comayagua , the highway winds up into the mountains to Marcala, the main town in an area that produces some of the finest coffee in Honduras . Marcala is a pleasingly tranquil Honduran town with friendly townsfolk. There’s not much in the way of tourist sights per se in town, but it’s a great base from which to go on a tour of an organic coffee farm, or to go walking through very lovely and safe countryside, dotted with several waterfalls  and patches of cloud forest.
This is one of the last areas of indigenous Lenca culture, a stretch of mountain country extending north to La Esperanza  and Gracias . Marcala is an excellent starting point for an exploration of La Ruta Lenca, and there are direct buses that take passengers the 36 kilometers to La Esperanza (10 of which are paved), from where one can connect with transportation to San Juan  and on to Gracias. Marcala is also on the way to an infrequently used and picturesque route to cross between Honduras and El Salvador, although this route may be challenging in the rainy season.
Most of Marcala’s life revolves around coffee. The strict control of altitude around Marcala provides the beans with an export quality rare in Honduras. An organic cooperative  in town is the first Honduran organization to have exported coffee to international locations, starting with Germany and quickly expanding to other countries (including having sold beans to that most famous of coffee shops, Starbucks).
To witness the coffee-picking season at its height, it is best to visit from mid-November to the end of March. A movement was afoot with coffee growers to re-institute the formerly annual Feria del Café in February.
Marcala’s yearly Feria Patronal (Patron Saint Festival) is held during the last two weeks of September, with religious ceremonies, street parades, food stands, carnival games, and more.
The church, San Miguel Arcangel, merits a peek inside, with tall wood pillars that hold up a soaring ceiling shaped like a boat’s hull.
Local volunteers have organized an active tourism committee to promote Marcala and the vicinity, which has built an information kiosk in the downtown park.
Marcala’s climate is usually not too hot during the day but cool in the evenings. The June–October rainy season brings regular afternoon and evening downpours. Nothing a good spirit and raincoat can’t handle, but better yet take the attitude of the locals, who calmly resign themselves to another cup of coffee and sweet bread until the storm passes.
Lila (tel. 504/764-5729) runs six buses to Tegucigalpa  between 4:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. (US$4 for the 3.5–4 hour ride), and one bus to San Pedro Sula  that departs at 5:15 a.m. (US$8, five hours). Buses to Comayagua  leave at 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. (US$3, three hours).
There are two buses to La Esperanza  each morning (US$3, 1.5–2 hours) and one bus to the border with El Salvador that leaves at 5 a.m. daily (five hours). Check where to catch the bus to the border, but for the rest you can flag them down at the Texaco gas station on the edge of town.