Olancho Honduras General Information
Olancho is the largest department (Honduras’ equivalent to state) and probably one of the richest areas in Central America. Located on the eastern part of the country, Olancho borders with Nicaragua to the east south east, and has some of the largest protected areas in the country. Part of the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve is located within its territory, as well as the Patuca National Park, Sierra de Agalta National Park and La Muralla National Park. Slightly larger that neighboring El Salvador, Olancho is very sparsely populated and is a vast rural, heavily forested area.
Connected with Tegucigalpa via a paved highway, Juticalpa is approximately 105 miles (170 Km) east of the capital, and Catacamas is 25 miles (40 Km) further. To the north, Olancho has roads that connect it with the department of Colon via San Esteban and Bonito Oriental and with Yoro via La Union and Esquipulas del Norte to Olanchito. From there, the distance to La Ceiba or Trujillo is relatively short. The people of Olancho, the majority of which are hardworking honest and very friendly people. Olancho’s economy is based on agriculture and cattle ranching, and a good part of the diary products, meat and grains grown in Honduras originate here. The town of Juticalpa, a community with a lot of commercial activity and where you will find most of the banks that operate within the national banking system. Catacamas, is on the other hand more of a traditional Spanish colonial atmosphere and far less cosmopolitan.
One of the most outstanding tourist attractions in the area are the Caves of Talgua, which together with the Maya Ruins at Copan and El Puente and the Los Naranjos Eco-archaeological Park in Lake Yojoa are the four archaeological areas open to the public and managed by the Honduran Anthropology Institute.
The capital of Olancho is a relatively old city, with historical records dating back to 1774, during the Spanish colonial days in Honduras. Its central park reflects the Spanish influence, and it has a lovely colonial church, a nice old municipal building that houses the city hall and an old building where la Casa de La Cultura is operating. All three of these buildings are in relatively good state and are part of the architectural heritage of Juticalpa.
Juticalpa is the commercial center of Olancho, you will find many banks here and this is the place to exchange your USA dollars, Travellers Cheques or get cash advances from your VISA card. Chances of getting Travellers Cheques cashed and cash advances on your credit cards elsewhere in Olancho are slim. For cash advances on MasterCard and American Express you will have to go to Tegucigalpa, so make sure you work this out before leaving Tegus! Internet services are readily available in Juticalpa, with several businesses offering this service.
Located only 40 km from Juticalpa, Catacamas is very different, with more of a rural flavor. There are two new hotels here, which are actually quite good, such as the Hotel Papabeto and the Hotel Mailing. Catacamas is the closest community to the Talgua Caves Eco-archaeological park, which is located only 10 km. from town. Catacamas has a nice colonial church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, an old City Hall, reminiscent of Honduran colonial times and two nice plazas. There are also several banks here. High up on one of the mountains surrounding Catacamas you will find a large cross. There is a stairway leading to the top, which will provide you with a fantastic view of Catacamas and the surrounding area. There are over 600 steps to the top!
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For general information about travel in Honduras, and to see what others who have visited Olancho have to say, and/or to tell us your own experiences, visit the Olancho Blog
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