HONDURAS: Tropical mountains, Mayan ruins, Spanish colonial towns, Caribbean beaches, and friendly people

Endless pristine beaches along the Miskito Coast of Honduras

For late summer of 2005, Rutahsa Adventures is organizing a double-barreled, ocean-to-ocean trip covering two of Central America's lesser known republics: Nicaragua and Honduras! Historic colonial cities, the great inland sea of Lake Nicaragua, active volcanoes, 1000-year-old Classic Maya ruins, tropical mountain cloud forest, historic mining towns, arts and crafts, Pacific and Caribbean sea resorts... All this and more are in store for Rutahsa Adventurers!

This trip will be set up to allow travelers to participate in either the Nicaragua or the Honduras trip segment, or the full combination trip.

Check out our itinerary for the Honduras portion of this trip:

Day 10 of the full Nica-Hond trip, Day 1 of the Honduras segment, Mon., Aug. 1, 2005: Travelers participating in just the Honduras segment of this trip will fly into Tegucigalpa today, being met at Toncontín International Airport and taken to Leslie's Place, a quiet B&B within easy walking distance of historic downtown Tegucigalpa, arts and crafts shops, and a variety of good eating spots. Travelers participating in both the Nicaraguan and Honduran trip sections will arrive at Leslie's Place by chartered bus from León, Nicaragua, this afternoon. A walking tour of the central plaza area is tentatively planned for about 3 PM (depending on arrival time of the group from Nicaragua). To preview our lodgings for the next two nights, visit Leslie's Place, then return to this trip website by using your "back" button.

Formerly a mining center, "Tegus" (as visiting gringos immediately nickname the city) is a blend of colonial and modern buildings nestled in a bowl in the mountains, and is one of only two western capitals never reached by rail lines.

Day 11/2, Tues., Aug. 2: After a continental breakfast at Leslie's Place (included), we'll motor up to the west entrance to La Tigra National Park and hike an old mining road up into cool, misty cloud forest, where humongous ferns overhang the trail and exotic bromeliads and orchids encrust the trees. A century ago, most of this area was stripped of its forest, as trees were needed for timbers to shore up the mines and for fuel --but you'd never think it to look at it now. The powers of Nature to heal in the tropics are truly phenomenal!

After cresting the mountain, we'll come down past beckoning mine adits to the abandoned El Rosario mine camp, situated at exactly one mile above sea level. Mines were opened here in Spanish colonial times, and from 1878 to 1954 the whole mountain was the site of intensive gold and silver mining activity by the New York & Honduras Rosario Mining Co. Your fearless excursion leader, Rutahsa's Ric Finch, actually worked here for Rosario, making a geologic map of the area in the mid-1970s! At El Rosario, after about six hours of hiking (those who don't fancy this much of a hike can come in the bus to meet us at El Rosario), we meet our bus to be driven to the town of Valle de Angeles, originally another mining town, but today an artisans' center. Finally, we return to Tegus for a second night at Leslie's Place.

Day 12/3, Weds., Aug. 3: This morning, after breakfast at Leslie's, we will visit El Hogar, an orphanage for street kids run by the Episcopal Church of Honduras. You will find this visit interesting and heartwarming as you learn of the terrific success that El Hogar staff have with rescuing street kids and turning them into educated and productive young Honduran citizens. It is a truly inspirational operation.

To learn more about El Hogar, visit their webpage and click on "The Project" and "Success": El Hogar. On every Rutahsa Adventures trip we try to leave a little something behind, something more than just the usual trail of dollars from hotel to hotel. We ask our fellow travelers to bring children's clothing (new or used), toothbrushes and toothpaste, and basic school supplies such as ruled paper, pencils and ballpoint pens, to make a donation to a worthy cause somewhere along our route where we know it will do some good. For this particular excursion, El Hogar is the place where we will make our donation.

Around noon, we'll board our private bus to head north over pine- and oak-covered volcanic plateaux and interspersed fault-block valleys to reach the city of Comayagua, capital of Honduras in colonial and early republican times.

In Comayagua we'll visit historic sites, including the cathedral, the finest colonial church in Honduras. The ornate facade houses a very plain-faced clock which at first glance is of scant interest...but it is believed to be the oldest functioning clock in the Americas, a Moorish clock that was quite an antique when donated by the King of Spain to the cathedral of Comayagua; the clock is thought to be around 800 years old!

Our lodging tonight will be at the very attractive and graceful, colonial style Hotel Casa Grande.

Day 13/4, Thurs., Aug. 4: Today we'll continue our journey across the interior plateaux and valleys of central Honduras, to reach the small, backwoods town of Gracias. En route we will get a glimpse of the "other" Honduras: rural, poor, but beautiful and populated by friendly, welcoming country people. Our route will first continue along the paved Carretera del Norte ("Highway to the North"), the most important highway in Honduras, connecting the capital to the industrial north coast. But we will turn off to head west through an area near La Esperanza that is inhabited by Lenca people, one of Honduras' larger indigenous groups. The last part of our trip will be on a part paved, part gravel road connecting La Esperanza to Gracias.

Gracias, founded in 1536, may be a backwater now, but even more than Comayagua, it is steeped in historical importance. It was in the region of Gracias that, in 1537-38, the Lenca warrior Lempira (in whose honor the Honduran currency is named) led his people in a valiant, but ultimately futile, rebellion against the Spanish conquistadores. From 1544 through mid-1550, Gracias was capital of the Spanish colony of Honduras-Higueras (comprised of Honduras and Yucatán) and site of the Audencia de los Confines, an important Spanish colonial governing body. Just outside the town of Gracias is an old fort, looking somewhat like the set for a movie on revolution in a Banana Republic...and indeed the fort belongs to a time of 20th-century caudillos and revolutions. Gracias is presently the capital of the Department of Lempira, one of Honduras' 18 political divisions.

In addition to history, the Gracias area is not lacking in natural wonders. Just a few kilometers southwest of town looms Montaña Celaque, the highest mountain in Honduras (2849 m, 9347 ft), home to Celaque National Park. And nearby Gracias is a natural thermal springs site, long a local spa, now an attraction for foreign visitors as well.

Our hotel in Gracias will be the somewhat rustic but pleasant Hotel Guancascos. To learn more about Gracias, its sights, hotels and restaurants, visit this webpage: Gracias.

Day 14/5, Fri., Aug. 5: Today we'll plan to be flexible, as there may well be more to do here than we can do in a single day. We can spend some time just strolling about the small town to get a feel for life in a sleepy provincial town; we can visit the old fort just outside of town; we can do a bit of hiking in the lower elevations of Celaque National Park (depending on the condition of the access road); we'll almost certainly want to end the day swimming and relaxing in the hot springs. We'll formally program this day after arrival in Gracias and in accordance to the wishes of the group as a whole. Second night at Hotel Guancascos.

Day 15/6, Sat., Aug. 6: After breakfast we will reboard our bus to drive to the charming town of Copán Ruinas, home to a world-class archeological site. At Copán 1000-year-old Classic Maya ruins have been partially excavated and restored. Pyramids, temples, stelae with altars, sacred ballcourts, and archeological tunnels await the visitor. Copán has been called the "Paris of the Maya" due to the high artistic achievements of the Maya here; artwork in the form of sculpture carved from enduring volcanic stone abounds, and the museums of the park feature ceramics, jade and astonishing works of art in flint. The Copán archeological site is truly majestic, and the present day pueblo of Copán Ruinas is amazing in that in spite of being visited annually by thousands of travelers from all over the world, it remains a friendly, charming little country village. We will stay in the first-class Hotel Marina Copán. For a glimpse of the Marina, visit their website at Marina Copán.

Day 16/7, Sun., Aug. 7: All day in Copán. In addition to the main ceremonial center at the archeological site, there is the recently excavated "suburb" of Las Sepulturas to visit, plus two excellent museums, the Museum of Sculpture at the ruins, and the Copán Museum in town. Or you can take a horseback ride out to see carved rocks on the far side of the Copán valley. Plenty to enjoy today. Second night at the Hotel Marina Copán. All park and museum entry fees are included in the trip fee. Second night at the Hotel Marina Copán.

Day 17/8, Mon., Aug. 8: Drive from Copán east to the Caribbean coast, to the beautiful Lodge at Pico Bonito. This drive will take most of the day, but we'll enjoy a variety of scenery en route: more mountains and verdant valleys, vast banana and African palm plantations near the north coast, and a glimpse of the outskirts of San Pedro Sula, Honduras' most important urban/industrial center. En route, near the coastal city of Tela --if time permits-- we will visit the famous Lancetilla Botanical Gardens, formerly a botanical research station operated by United Fruit, now a Honduran National Park.

Although the Hotel Marina Copán is luxurious, the Lodge at Pico Bonito is something else again, and represents quite an indulgence for Rutahsa Adventures! For a preview, visit their website at Lodge at Pico Bonito.

Day 18/9, Tues., Aug. 9: All day today at the Lodge at Pico Bonito. The lodge is situated on the edge of Pico Bonito National Park, and features hiking trails in virgin rainforest, excellent bird-watching, a butterfly farm and serpentarium, stargazing at night, swimming in crystal-clear natural pools, and much more than you can hope to indulge in during a single day. You'll have to make some difficult choices, but all the options will be nice ones. Second night at the Lodge at Pico Bonito.

Day 19/10, Weds., Aug. 10: You'll have time to participate in the early morning bird walk or another activity of your choice if you arise early. But around mid-morning we'll have to leave for the airport to catch our 12:15 PM flight over the sparkling Caribbean to Roatán, the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, and famous amongst snorkelers and scuba divers worldwide. On Roatán we'll take up lodging at the Hotel Pura Vida right on the beach so we don't lose time getting on with what we came here for: enjoying palm-shaded beaches, swimming and snorkeling, colorful fish, corals and underwater scenery in the crystal clear Caribbean waters. Dive services are available for those who are PADI qualified. Fishermen will have to check to see if spearfishing is permitted, but expect to see some big ones in any case.

Day 20/11, Thurs., Aug. 11: All day on Roatán. Second night at Hotel Pura Vida. To preview the Pura Vida and learn more about Roatán Island, click here: Pura Vida. Incidentally, though Pura Vida means literally "Pure Life", it is an exclamation in Central America more accurately translated as "This is the Life!" We think you'll agree!

Day 21/12, Fri., Aug. 12: Another full day to work on your tan, snorkel in the reefs, maybe splurge and swim with dolphins at Anthony's Key Resort, take a cab in to see the little port town, or maybe just kick back and relax in a hammock. Third night at Hotel Pura Vida.

Day 22/13, Sat., Aug. 13: Return to the Roatán airport to catch our mid-day flight to the international airport at San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital of Honduras. Here the trip officially ends, and we say goodbye to our traveling companions, regretting only that all good things must come to an end.

Twilight in the mountains of Honduras


This excursion will be set up to allow the traveler to participate in either the Nicaragua or the Honduras trip segment, or to join for the full adventure of both segments. A minimum of eight participants will be necessary to make this Honduras segment go. Costs, in double room accommodations, for the Honduran segment only are:

Costs for the full excursion, Nicaragua and Honduras segments combined are:

Included in the Honduras trip inscription fee will be: Ground transportation in chartered bus; flight from La Ceiba to Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras on Aug. 10, and flight from Roatán to San Pedro Sula on Aug. 13; all lodging for the trip itinerary; continental breakfasts at Leslie's Place in Tegucigalpa; all park, museum, and bioreserve entries; bilingual guide service.

For details of the included services for the Nicaragua portion of the trip, visit the Nicaragua trip website: Nicaragua itinerary.

NOT INCLUDED in the Honduras trip inscription fees: Transportation to and from Central America; Honduras entry fee for travelers joining the excursion in Tegucigalpa ($3); transportation from Tegucigalpa airport to Leslie's Place for travelers arriving independently of the group entering from Nicaragua (we will be glad to arrange this transfer for you, at cost); meals and drinks (except as noted above); tips; souvenirs; telephone/fax/e-mail services; other personal expenses; Honduras exit tax ($27).

As always, the group size will be kept small (16 travelers), to maintain the quality experience that an intimate group can enjoy.


To request an application blank for Rutahsa's Honduras Tropical Travel Adventure, to be placed on our mailing list for updates on this trip, or to request further information about the trip, send an e-mail request to rfinch@tntech.edu.

Travelers electing to participate only in the Honduras segment of the trip need to arrive Tegucigalpa in the afternoon or early evening of Aug. 1. Rutahsa Adventures will be happy to make arrangements for any traveler to be picked up at the Tegus airport and taken to our hotel, Leslie's Place, at a modest additional cost.

For excellent deals on air fares in and out of Honduras, we recommend you contact Patricia Guamuchi of Solar Tours in Washington D.C.: 1-800-388-7652, extension 558. For some years now, Patricia has been giving Rutahsa Adventurers' travelers favored rates; be sure to dial the extension number, and/or, ask for Patricia; tell her you will be participating in a Rutahsa Adventures excursion.

For other great out-of-the-ordinary eco-adventures and cultural trips, see Rutahsa Adventures homepage.

Images on this webpage by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.