Honduras – Pico Bonito and Santa Rosa

Pico Bonito is a national park in Honduras, located in the Cordillera Nombre de Dios mountain range. This park gets its name from the beautiful triangular shaped peak that towers over the city of La Ceiba and can even be seen from Utila Island.

This is a relatively large park of about 560 km squared in size and many tourists don’t visit unless, like me, choose to spend a few days in La Ceiba after visiting the Bay Islands. A visit to Pico Bonito is one of the top things to do in La Ceiba. So, if there is one national park you MUST visit in Honduras, it is this one!

La Ceiba to Pico Bonito National Park

From the La Ceiba it is easy to enter Pico Bonito National Park because its only about 18 km away. On the 10th of February 2019, I took a taxi for 200 HNL / R 120 / 8 USD and later, a chicken bus back to the city for 20 HNL / R 12 / 0.80 USD.

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About Pico Bonito National Park

This is one of the most raw and undisturbed parks that I have seen!

Because of is abrupt change in altitude, Pico Bonito probably has the highest bio diversity in Central America. It starts with a tropical rain forest on the northern lowlands and turns into a tropical cloud forest in the upper elevations. At the peak, you will encounter high winds and the backside showcases a very dry tropical forest. The park is home to many animals like monkeys, reptiles and even jaguars. Seven different ecosystems surround Pico Bonito and it is home to over 420 species of birds.

After paying 180 HNL / R 100 / 7 USD for entrance, you’ll make your way into the jungle by swinging on the suspension bridge crossing high over the Cangrejal River.

The Cangrejal river is one of the 46 rivers that flows from the natural park and rushes towards the nearby Caribbean sea . At the mouth of the river, you’ll find an abundant amount of crabs, which is why this river is named “Cangrejal” – a place that is frequented by crabs.

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A suspension bridge crossing over the Cangrejal River into Pico Bonito.
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Cangrejal River
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Cangrejal River
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The Cangrejal River is home to many birds

Top 3 activities to do at Pico Bonito

1. Hiking

The trails within Pico Bonito National Park offer a fantastic window into the jungle and you can experience a true rain forest. We chose to tackle El Mapache trail which is only 4 km long and took about 3 hours to complete. It was fun! I saw something new and interesting with every twist and turn.

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Hiking at Pico Bonito National Park
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Pico Bonito National Park
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The lush vegetation definitely made this hike amazing.

This is a very rewarding hike as it takes you to several waterfalls. After a short 20 minutes walk we reached the first waterfall where I jumped into the pond and took a shower under the crystal clear waterfall. We then made our way to the most impressive waterfall in the area which is the 60 m high Bejuco Waterfall.

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Bejuco Waterfall
The first waterfall we came across while hiking

2. Swim in the Cangrejal river

After hiking, we had a memorable experience whitewater-river swimming and floating between giant boulders. The waters are crystal clear, making this a great way to cool off and the water is cool but not too cold.

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The Cangrejal River

3. River rafting

This is probably the most popular of all things to do in Pico Bonito National Park. As the river flows between huge boulders, it creates many drops and pools, making this an adventurous experience, not to be missed!

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Kayaking in the Cangrejal River

4 Zip-lining through the treetops

Words can’t quite describe the feeling of complete freedom you get from zip lining in Central America’s tropical jungle. It has a beautiful setting that takes you across the lovely and scenic Cangrejal River into Pico Bonito National Park.

When to visit Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito’s climate varies with altitude. You can enjoy the hot tropical climate all year round with temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees Celsius.

Santa Rosa de Copán

Santa Rosa de Copán is located in the heart of mountains in western Honduras, between the cities of San Pedro Sula and Guatemala City.

Not only did we visit this town because it offers a change from the other popular destinations in the county, its also about 200 km from San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, which is where we headed next.

Santa Rosa Cathedral is located right near the central park. Because I love to see different architecture when I travel, I would say a visit to this church is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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Santa Rosa Cathedral

The economy of Western Honduras depends on coffee and there are many different coffee processing plants in the area. Therefore, you can imagine how many coffee shops are in town.

We decided to try out Kaldi’s Koffee Shop. I’m not much of a coffee person but I really enjoyed their coffee and cappuccino, so much so that every morning we went back to get our fix in order to start our day. They also have different types of delicious desserts – the chocolate cake was my favourite.

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Gloria preparing our coffee and cake
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A tasty chocolate cake and cappuccino

Reflecting on my time in Honduras

We spent a total of 54 days in the country, although most of these day were spent soaking up the sun on Utila Island, I am thrilled I had the opportunity to explore a few areas in the mainland. Please look at the map below:

Honduras
A recap of the places explored in Honduras

Honduras may have a bad reputation, but like all countries you have to travel safe. From my experience, the situation on the ground couldn’t be more different from what’s heard in the media and I hope to come back and explore more of what this incredible country has to offer.

Thank you for reading,

Dineo Zonke.

 

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