What to do in Pico Bonito National Park?

Only a short drive away from La Ceiba is Pico Bonito National Park. It’s a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers and draws in visitors from all over the world keen to spot some of the rare birds found in the area.

Pico Bonito Lodge and Spa is a member of the group Small Luxury Hotels, which is quite fitting due to the intimate environment at the lodge. It’s one of the top places to stay in the country and a fabulous location from which to explore the local area.

The accommodations are in private wooden bungalows complete with a terrace, hammocks and an en suite bathroom with showers giving the feeling of being outside without actually having to be.

810_5763

The grounds themselves are lovely to walk around; close to the hotel I saw, with the help of local guide Older, two Central American screech owls just a short walk from the reception. Equally easy to spot are the dainty hummingbirds that flit around the outside dining area making breakfast a delight for nature lovers.

20190202_162412

 

810_5773

The spa area is set within wooden teepee style huts and the treatments range from the usual manicures to speciality treatments and unique experiences. I opted for the Vichy Shower, a treatment I hadn’t heard of before but will certainly be remembering. You lie on a wooden table and are showered with warm water while the therapist scrubs you with a variety of products; a bit like a more luxurious version of a Turkish hamman. Following the exfoliation you’re massaged and left feeling relaxed and extremely smooth & clean.810_5790

Going to sleep there is a pleasure. The mattresses are incredibly comfortable and at night time you’re actually pleasantly relaxed by the sounds of nature; a real life version of a sleep machine recording.

810_5716

There are even nearby natural swimming holes, with incredibly clear water and a number of rushing waterfalls. The pools are only a short walk from the lodge yet still feel as if you’ve just discovered them yourself.

Xocolatl Chocolate

Honduras is known for it’s coffee but another major export is actually chocolate, and Xocolatl are producing high quality as well as showing tours of the estate.

Surrounded by hills and lovely waterfalls the tour takes you around the grounds showing the areas for drying the beans as well as seeing the cocoa plant and trying the fruit. Here the chocolate is naturally sweeter as they have planted other fruit trees and vanilla around the cocoa plants.

After a pleasant walk you’re able to try your hand at producing your own chocolate using a traditional Mayan tool similar to a mortar and pestle. Then using the moulds you can shape your creations and sample the tastes!

Nature hike with @ReservacionesLaCeiba

Reservaciones La Ceiba are a wonderful company that give locals the chance to build up their skills as a guide by developing their language skills, growing their confidence and entrepreneurial skills.

This means that the guides used have a huge amount of knowledge about the local area and it’s fauna and flora as they have usually grown up close to where they run the tours.
As we walked through the area our local guide would demonstrate the different uses of the plants and trees.

I get bitten badly by mosquitos and the guide even showed me how to use a termite nest as a natural repellent. The guides can tailor your tour to your particular interests, and I was keen to find the local natural swimming holes as well as learn about some of the local plants. Equally the hikes can be changed to suit your level of fitness and if you don’t want to stray too far then there are some lovely river crossing bridges as well as sights just along the river.

For more information & for tours please contact Choose Honduras

10 reasons to visit Santa Rosa de Copan | Honduras

 

 

1. It’s a great introduction to Honduras
It’s often overlooked by tourists rushing to Copan Ruinas meaning that it’s less touristy and feels like a very authentic Honduran experience.

Only a couple of hours from the Salvadorean border and well located on the way to both San Pedro Sula and other major destinations, it’s an ideal stop for a few days of taking in the sights.
20190127_113142
2. It’s known as the capital of coffee in Honduras
SRC has over 40 coffee shops each with their own personal style and unique selling point. Not only is the local coffee fantastic due to the ideal altitude for cultivation, but the nearby tours where you can learn about the process make the final product even more enjoyable. Top recommendations are Estucafe with it’s 17 different methods for making coffee, and Kaldis coffee offering some of the top cakes in town to compliment your drinks.
20190127_103219
3. It’s got an active nightlife.
There are plenty of bars and dance spots in the city, and on a weekend the streets are alive with young people bar hopping, drinking cocktails in trendy bars such as Wazzz or enjoying the beers at Calitos Grill. On top of this there are regular events and festivals adding to the local atmosphere including projections of films onto the central cathedral.
20190125_174426
20190125_203529
4. The streets are very pretty
A big effort has been made to preserve the original look of the centre and the cobbled streets alongside the colonial style coloured buildings make for pretty viewing. The cathedral with it’s central dome is lovely to visit and many of the buildings nearby are great to look at with their big balconies and white & red colourings.
20190125_161637
5. It has food options that have people travelling in from all over Honduras.
Doña Olimpia has been making top end roast pig for over 70 years. During busy periods the kilns are constantly on roasting the 12 hour marinated meat and orders come in from all over the country. It’s a family business and they’ve perfected the crispy pork that has people coming back for the rich and salty dish.
20190126_103443
20190126_102333
6. It has a number of businesses trying to lead the way in sustainable tourism.
Yate Aqua Park runs adventure trips around the area including tubing, rock climbing and abseiling. With each tour the participants are expected to clean up a bag of rubbish from the roadside at the end of the day.
img-20190127-wa0021
Cafe de las Velas sells crafts made by underprivileged women and creates jobs for them in the Café.
20190126_171943
Seis Valles cafe and coffee producer is finding new technologies in coffee production that cuts down their carbon footprint as well as aiming to recycle as much as possible during the process.
20190127_133405
7. There is beautiful countryside so close to the city.
Just outside the city it’s possible to go on some great hikes, the Hummingbird lookout is less than an hour walk to a great lookout point and only a 35 min drive away is Hacienda Montecristo offering horse riding and other farm activities such as calf feeding and trying your hand at milking a cow.
20190127_112509
8. Markets, arts & crafts
For those of you who love arts & crafts there are a whole host of options. Lenca Mayan Placita is a lovely location with colourful umbrellas lining the ceiling and brightly coloured murals on the walls. As well as the small cafe there are a number of artisan shops selling delightful craft items, soaps from natural products, traditional clothing and local foods.
The central markets are also great to walk around; not usually visited by tourists it’s great to see the locals in cowboy hats eating their meals, unusual vegetables and herbs lining the narrow walkways, and vendors selling all sorts of dishes including when I visited…a bull testicle cerviche!
20190126_112335
20190126_094906
9. Cigar production
A lot of people hear ‘cigar’ and think of Cuba, but actually Honduras is one of the top producers of cigars in the whole world. Much of the tobacco here is actually repackaged in Cuba and sold as Cuban cigars on the international market.
There’s an interesting cigar museum and shop, with information about the history of tobacco in Honduras and Santa Rosa de Copan, as well as rare cigars on display, with the option to purchase local and international cigars in the shop.
20190125_152917
10. There are even speciality local liquors
On one of the prettiest streets there’s a tiny shop and cafe selling Timoshenko, a locally famous liquor.
Coming in two flavours, one coffee and the other fruit, this moreish drink is not only served on it’s own or in the case of the coffee one; with milk, but is so popular that many restaurants incorporate it into sauces and dishes.
20190125_151754
20190125_150740
For further information please contact;

Visiting Cahuita National Park | Costa Rica

Cahuita National Park next to the beach town of Cahuita is a popular park with some great hiking trails and a lovely curve of beach usually great for swimming.

GOPR0263.jpg

Cost – Free
It’s one of the only national parks in the country that is free to enter, but donations are encouraged. Most people seemed to give about $5. If you enter from the main entrance near Cahuita town you have to sign in to enter but don’t require ID.

Opening Times – 8am – 4pm

What to bring – 
– Towel or something to lie on – There are no deckchairs although there are a few benches on the main route, so if you’re planning on having some beach time then you’ll need something to lie on.
– Mosquito repellent – Unfortunately even during the day it’s quite mosquito heavy
– Sun cream – An obvious one but a must. There is plenty of shade on the main paths but as soon as you venture onto the sand you’ll be in direct sun.
– Drinks and food – There are no shops or food vendors in the park so be sure to bring plenty of water and a picnic if you’re staying for long. Make  sure to take your rubbish with you when you leave.
– Camera – There is so much to see and you’ll be disappointed if you aren’t able to take some photos.

What might you see?

 

javier-mazzeo-428910-unsplash.jpgSloths – It was fairly easy to see a number of sloths during my visit, including one that had got a little lost and was solemnly making his way out of the park clinging onto the electricity pylon.

Monkeys- The monkeys in the park were cheeky and unafraid, stealing snacks from tourists and swinging from tree to tree.

Raccoons – Although considered a pest by some, the creatures with their robber mask like faces were inquisitive and friendly. It’s not allowed to feed the animals but unfortunately many people do and the raccoons have learnt this; often approaching tourists to try and get some food.

Do you need a guide?
It’s not necessary to take a guide for most people. The main trails are fairly well signposted and as long as you leave plenty of time you’ll have no problems. The animals in general aren’t that shy and will be quite easily spotted. However if you’re a very keen nature lover and really want to spot everything you can hire a guide from the park entrance. Price negotiable.