NICARAGUA & HONDURAS
OCEAN-TO-OCEAN TRAVEL ADVENTURE
Endless pristine beaches along the Miskito Coast of Honduras
For late May and early June of 2000, Rutahsa Adventures has organized a
double-barreled, ocean-to-ocean trip covering two of Central America's lesser
known republics: Nicaragua and Honduras! Historic colonial cities and Spanish
forts, the great inland sea of Lake Nicaragua, rain forest and cloud forest
biologic reserves, active volcanoes, 1000-year-old Classic Maya ruins, arts and
crafts, Pacific and Caribbean sea resorts... All this and more are in store for
This trip is set up to allow travelers to participate in either the
Nicaragua or the Honduras trip segment, or the full combination trip.
Check out our ocean-to-ocean itinerary:
May 28, Sun.: Fly U.S. to Managua, Nicaragua. We will meet at the
airport and drive a few miles to the colonial city of Granada, founded in 1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. After
checking into the Hotel Alhambra, right on the shaded Central Plaza across from the Cathedral, we will take a late
afternoon walking tour of Granada's historic central area. Ghosts of Spanish
conquistadores and William Walker's mid-19th century filibusters will
accompany us! And who better to tell us about Granada's past than Dr.
Alejandro Bolaños-Geyer, Nicaragua's greatest living historian and the
world's leading authority on William Walker. We are indeed fortunate that Don
Alejandro has agreed to be with us in Granada and share his knowledge with us.
May 29, Mon.: Today we drive to the small port town of San Jorge to
board a chartered boat that will take us across the immense inland sea of
Lake Nicaragua. Don't fall overboard: the
lake is home to freshwater sharks! At the far end of the lake we reach San
Carlos, where lakewaters drain into the Río San Juan to make their way
down to the Caribbean. At San Carlos we leave the lake to travel down the San
Juan-- highway of buccaneers, forty-niners, and filibusters. We'll stop at
El Castillo, a small riverside town dominated
by an ancient Spanish fort. Here we'll overnight at the Albergue El Castillo,
a rustic (shared bathrooms), but very picturesque and nice hotel with
restaurant and bar service.
In the evening we can climb "Nelson's Hill" to enjoy the cool air and the
peaceful views that belie the turbulent past
of this spot.
May 30, Tues.: In the morning we'll clamber into a motorized dugout
canoe and head down through the El Toro rapids to follow quiet waters
downstream to the Indio-Maiz Biosphere Reserve established along the
Nicaragua-Costa Rica border not only as a biological preserve, but as a
monument to peace. A hike through tropical rain forest, guided by a
professional Nicaraguan biologist, will let us appreciate the
amazing vegetation up close, and begin to
understand Nature's immense powers of regeneration in the tropics. Wildlife is
shy and hard to spot, but neon-colored "poison dart" frogs are likely to be
sighted. How about this living jewel of the
forest floor? On our way back upstream to El Castillo, we can make a side trip
to explore one of the Río San Juan's tributaries.
Upon our return to El Castillo, we'll tour the historic fortress, "El Castillo La Inmaculada Concepción".
The Spanish constructed the hilltop fort to defend the colony of Nicaragua from
Caribbean pirates, but in 1780 it was attacked by a young Captain Horatio
Nelson-- who was defeated. In the mid-1850s this fort was a key element in
William Walker's attempt to take over Nicaragua and create a Central American
empire. Second night in the Albergue.
May 31, Weds.: This morning we will re-board our chartered motorboat to
carry us back up the Rio San Juan to San Carlos and Lake Nicaragua. [Originally
we had planned to make this trip aboard a plana colectiva, a riverine version of a local bus making all
the stops, carrying sundry cargo, including pigs below decks, and passengers riding on benches or in their
hammocks(!) on the main deck. Unfortunately,
the colorful plana colectiva no longer plies the Río San Juan.
We understand that a very similar craft operates between San Carlos and
Ometepe, and we are investigating the possibility of using this service for
part of that trip, although the reliability of the service may make this
impractical. More on this later.]
At San Carlos we'll reboard our chartered boat to cross Lake Nicaragua to the
island of Ometepe. The island is formed by
two great volcanoes that soar dramatically up out of the water to form twin
cones, Volcán Concepción and Volcán Madera, connected by a
low land bridge of lava. Our night's lodging will be at the resort Hotel Cari,
with full amenities: restaurant, bar, air conditioning, and of course private
June 1, Thurs.: Today we'll spend all day enjoying the resort, the
lake, and the volcanic mountain. Hotel Cari offers horseback riding and
bicycling (extra cost services); you can also swim in the lake or go hiking.
Those who want a good hike can take an optional guided tour to ascend
Volcán Concepción ($25 per person, minimum two persons).
June 2, Fri.: In the morning we'll take the ferry across to the western
shore of Lake Nicaragua, arriving once again at the small port town of San
Jorge. Here we'll be met by our private bus to be taken to Montelimar on the
Pacific coast. Montelimar, formerly one of the dictator Somoza's estates, has
been converted into a luxury resort-by-the-sea, with restaurants featuring
extensive menus, bars, swimming pool, tennis courts, horseback riding, and a
casino! Your meals and bar tab (national drinks) are included in your stay
here-- hence we'll stay two nights so you can take advantage of it!
June 3, Sat.: All day at Montelimar! To see more of the facilities of
Montelimar Resort, take a peek at their website, but be sure to use your "back"
button to return to Rutahsa's trip description: Montelimar Resort.
June 4, Sun.: Up early today to leave for Managua, Nicaragua's capital
city. In central Managua we'll see much lingering evidence of the devastation
wrought by the Dec. 1972 earthquake, and visit the famous Huellas de
Acahualinca, where human footprints are
fossilized in hardened volcanic mudstone.
Next we'll visit Volcán Santiago National Park, where we can drive
right up to the rim of the huge open crater
and see a classic geologic cross-section of a composite cone. The floor of the
crater normally features a smoking pit crater
and lucky visitors can look right down into the volcano's fiery throat.
Finally, we'll zip back to the Augusto C. Sandino Airport to board our new bus
from Honduras to begin a cross-country drive to Tegucigalpa, capital of
Nicaragua's sister republic, Honduras. It will be interesting to see what
evidence of the great floods and mudslides caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998
can be seen along the way.
Acacia in full bloom along a Nicaraguan byway
Formerly a mining center, Tegucigalpa 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. Our hotel
in "Tegus" (as visiting gringos immediately nickname the city) will be Leslie's
Place, a B & B conveniently located within walking distance of the historic
center of town and various restaurants. For a tiny peek at Leslie's B & B,
click here; Leslie's Place.
June 5, Mon.: After a continental breakfast at Leslie's Place, 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. Much 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. Again, the powers of Nature to heal in the tropics are 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, we meet our bus to be driven to the town of
Valle de Angeles, originally another mining town, but today an artesan's
center. Finally, we return to Tegus for a second night at Leslie's Place.
June 6, Tues.: 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
While in Tegucigalpa we will also undoubtedly see much evidence of the terrible
damage inflicted on this capital city by Hurricane Mitch, the "Storm of the
Century" according to National Geographic (Nov. 1999 issue). If possible,
Rutahsa Adventures will make arrangements through a relief agency to see what
our group of travelers can do, even if only in a small way, to help out. We
may be able to bring down quantities of needed supplies to help the victims of
Mitch who are still struggling to recover from this terrible blow.
After lunch we'll head north over pine- and oak-covered plateaux and
interspersed valleys to beautiful Lake Yojoa,
Honduras' largest freshwater lake. Overnight at Finca la Gloria at the north
end of the lake. This hostelry was originally a finca, or plantation,
and is located right on the lake, features horseback riding and a cave nearby
to explore. The lake area is a fine place for birdwatching.
June 7, Weds.: Today we head into backwoods Honduras, via a gravel road
that passes through the mining town of El Mochito, climbs up and over a ridge to
drop down into the valley of the Río Ulúa and finally winds up at
the sleepy departmental cabecera (capital city) of Santa Bárbara.
The scenery en route is dramatic, and visiting this area gives us a chance to
appreciate the "real" Honduras-- not the big cities, not the tourist
attractions, but the Honduras of the majority of Hondurans. The
central plaza looks much the same as it did
when adventurer-author Richard Harding Davis published a similar photo in 1896,
in his charming book "Three Gringos in Central America and Venezuela". In the
late afternoon we'll walk down to the swimming hole and swim in the Río
Cececapa with the local kids. In town we can buy hats of junco, a palm
that produces a fiber equal to that of the famed "Panama" hats of Ecuador.
Weaving of these sombreros de junco is a cottage industry, involving
many of the local women; we'll try to visit a women's cooperative to support
it with our purchases of junco products. Our hotel in Santa
Bárbara will be the Boarding House Moderno.
June 8, Thurs.: You have two options today: laze around the town of
Santa Bárbara for a better feel of life in a small Honduran country
city, or board the bus for a day trip out to the town of El Níspero
where we'll do a bit of hiking. First we'll walk down to the Puente del
Diablo ("Devil's Bridge") to see a curiously eroded and highly picturesque
slot canyon cut into limestone by the Río Palaja. Then we'll do a longer
hike downstream from the canyon to get to the bottom of the 70 m high El Níspero falls, shown here after a big
rain. Depending on water conditions we might swim and/or visit a cave below the
cliffs of travertine. Overnight again in Santa Bárbara.
June 9, Fri.: Drive west (via a detour forced upon us by the fact that
Mitch washed away the main highway bridge over the Río Ulúa)
through mountainous country to the charming town of Copán Ruinas, home
to a world-class archeological site. Here 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 here, 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 tourists 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
Copán, then just use your "back" button to come back to this
June 10, Sat.: 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.
June 11, Sun.: Drive from Copán to the town of Tela on the
Caribbean coast, where we'll overnight at the Hotel Villas Telamar, right on
the beach. Before arriving at Tela, we will visit the famous Lancetilla
Botanical Gardens, formerly a banana company botanical research station, now a
Honduran National Park.
June 12, Mon.: You'll have time for a morning swim if you arise early,
but today we'll drive on to La Ceiba to catch a flight over the sparkling
Caribbean to Roatán, the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, and famous
amongst divers worldwide. On Roatán we'll take up lodging in Lost
Paradise Inn 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 qualified. Fishermen will have to check to see
if spearfishing is permitted, but expect to
see some big ones in any case.
June 13, Tues.: All day on Roatán. Second night at Lost
Paradise Inn. To preview Lost Paradise, and learn more about Roatán
Island, click here: Lost Paradise.
June 14, Weds.: Return to the Roatán airport to catch our
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 is 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. Costs for Nicaraguan and Honduran in-country services have been
carefully negotiated and agreed upon by Rutahsa Adventures, Inc. and the
Nicaraguan and Honduran suppliers. Barring an unexpected increase in costs
beyond the control of Rutahsa Adventures, Inc., the following prices should be
For a group of seven travelers, the following prices will be in effect.
- Nicaragua trip segment only, May 28 - June 4: $1210.00
- Honduras trip segment only, June 4 - June 14: $ 994.00
- Complete Nicaragua-Honduras trip, May 28 - June 14: $2204.00
For a group of nine travelers, the following prices will be in effect.
- Nicaragua trip segment only, May 28 - June 4: $1081.00
- Honduras trip segment only, June 4 - June 14: $944.00
- Complete Nicaragua-Honduras trip, May 28 - June 14: $2025.00
Included in the full trip inscription fee: All ground, lake and river
transportation, including transportation by private bus from Managua, Nicaragua
to Tegucigalpa, Honduras on June 4; Nicaragua-Honduras border fees for
travelers participating in the June 4 trip from Managua to Tegucigalpa; flight
from La Ceiba to Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras on June 12, and flight
from Roatán to San Pedro Sula on June 14; all lodging; all meals and
national drinks while at Montelimar Resort; two continental breakfasts at
Leslie's Place in Tegucigalpa; all park, museum, and bioreserve entries;
bilingual guide service; biologist guide service on the Río San Juan
in Nicaragua; and Honduras exit fee.
NOT INCLUDED in the trip inscription fees: Transportation to and from Central
America; Nicaragua entry fee ($5) or Honduras entry fee for travelers joining
the excursion in Tegucigalpa; meals and drinks (except as noted above); tips;
souvenirs; other personal expenses.
As always, the group size will be kept small, to maintain the quality
experience than an intimate group can enjoy.
HOW TO GET ON BOARD
To request an application blank for Rutahsa's Nicaragua-Honduras Tropical
Travel Adventure, to be placed on our mailing list for updates on this trip,
or to request further information about the trip, drop an e-mail request to
Travelers electing to participate only in the Honduras segment of the trip need
to arrive Tegucigalpa in the afternoon or early evening of June 4. 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.
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.