Honduras remains one of the least developed and least visited (only about 800,000 tourists a year, comprised mostly of divers heading for the Bay Island
and Missionaries "helping" the indigenous) countries in Central American.
Poverty is pervasive and can be a distraction to the inexperienced third-world traveler.
If you can accept the realities of these conditions and are up for some adventure travel and exposure to historic Central American culture, than head to Honduras!
Our flight out of Miami took us directly to San Perdo Sula, the second largest city in the country.
San Pedro is not much of a tourist destination, since the principal economy is manufacturing and agricultural production. So most of our fellow air travelers were business men, backpackers or religious zealots on a mission.
San Pedro does provide an easy gateway into the county because of the
We only stayed a couple of nights in San Pedro before joining up with some friends and heading out to the village of Copan Runias http://www.copanhonduras.org/, the closest town to the ruins of Copan.
Copan is considered by many to be one of real treasures of excavated (and yet to be excavated) Mayan ruins in Central America.
One of the major reasons to visit is the opportunity to avoid crowds of tourists and enjoy the adventure of exploring these treasured ruins.
After a full day of explorations with one of the local guides, we headed back to San Pedro to catch an early flight the following morning to La Ceiba.
(Macaws at Copan)
We had purchased an auction package on LuxuryLink for five nights at The Lodge at Pico Bonito www.picobonito.com.
Just as promised, in an earlier email exchanges with the resort, our driver was waiting outside of baggage claim and took us on the half hour drive to Pico.
The lodge is situated at the base of a rainforest leading upward to the summit of the mountain peaks which are in cloud forests [TIP: pack for variable weather conditions ...it gets a little cooler as you climb upward....and expect moisture almost anytime when the clouds roll in over the summits...hint..rain forest & cloud forest].
The accommodations at the lodge consist of single or duplex cabins (there was a slight premium for the single cabin, which we gladly paid) with A/C, if needed.
The cabins are hand crafted by locals and erected in an old cacao plantation, so there is plenty of shade from the mid day sun.
The interiors of the cabins are well appointed and furnished with native hardwood beds and chairs and fine linens.
The housekeepers must hide behind the trees and watch.....if you are out of your cabin for ten minutes or longer, expect to return and find fresh towels and the wrinkles removed from the bed covers.
As for the resort prices, Pico is rated among the top resorts in Central America, offering a premier location, surrounded by fabulous hiking trails in a pristine tropical forest environment....wildlife is easily spotted with little or no effort.....and the staff will attempt to deliver whatever you request....these services come with a price!
We have noticed there have been isolated negative comments on tripadvisor
from time to time about Pico....but the comments appear to be from less experienced travelers (less experienced in visiting remote lodges and hotels).
Yes, the ala carte meals are expensive but not unreasonable [our package included breakfast each morning and dinner one evening].....as vegetarians, we found the food to be just fine and the kitchen more than happy to please us (we always toss a couple of boxes of pasta in our luggage right next to the tequila when heading into unknown territory).
If eating at the lodge gets too expensive, the closest town is La Ceiba and offers a variety of local restaurants, some of which are directly on the beach.
One of the more rustic and interesting little places is named Sambo Creek in a Garifuna Village (the Garifuna are descendants of African slaves who were abandoned by slave traders centuries ago along the outer islands of Honduras).
You can sit at covered tables right on the beach and admire the beautiful views of Cayos Cochinos. Sambo Creek a great place to go for sunset drinks, simple local cuisine and live music, most evenings......also, it's a great place to meet other adventure travelers from all over the world.
At Pico Bonito, consider all the hikes your legs can stand...the pay off is solitude, tranquility, great waterfalls and clear pools for swimming and wading (a little cool at times, but totally refreshing and worth the initial shock).
If you are an early riser, you will certainly have an opportunity to see birds, birds, and more birds....we so enjoyed watching the colorful Toucans flit about the trees!
There are several elevated viewing platforms built at the starting points for each marked trail, so, if you are quiet and patient, you can focus your binoculars on the upper canapoy wildlife.
You can hike with or without a guide (it's probably worth the extra money to employ a guide initially, until you learn the trails (which are well marked, if you decide to go solo)...the guides carry radios and can contact the lodge should you need assistance.
The Rio Zacata trail (which requires transportation from the lodge to the trail head) is more rustic and complicated than the trails leading directly out of Pico and is undergoing substantial rehabilitation and the construction of several new bridges. This is a great trek, but shouldn't be confused with the ease and simplicity of the two well maintained trails leading directly out of Pico...no technical climbing required, just a little more time and care needed to reach the waterfalls and pools at the top.
None of these trails should be undertaken in simple athletic shoes.
Splurge a little and have Maria give you a massage on the front deck of your cabin one evening after a day of hiking! James and Gustavo are two of the managers at Pico who will respond quickly and efficiently to your requests. Juan is a steady worked around the bar and wants very much to please, should you become thirsty.
Almost all of the waiters and dining staff are veterans of multiple years aboard cruise ships...they certainly provide a higher level of customer service than might be anticipated in such a remote destination.
When traveling in and around the larger cities in Honduras, good sense dictates being on the look out for petty pick pockets and the like.
Also, once the sun goes down, it is wise to be back at your hotel or in the company of a local who knows their way around.