Honduras is no secret to the European back pack crowd, but for the more upscale travelers – say, those who don’t wince at rooms costing more than $15 a night – Honduras is usually passed over for the more well known beaches and rainforests of Costa Rica or Panama. Herein lies the opportunity! Instead of competing for a spot on white sand beaches or crowded canopy zip line tours, head to Honduras and experience those things crowd-free, along with vast cloud forests, virgin rivers, and warm locals who aren’t just seeing dollar signs when you show up. At least it sure felt that way.
Like all good river trips, the Rio Cangrejal rafting experience begins along a bumpy dirt road, past washed-out houses, eroding hillsides, with the occasional view of the river below, and a large waterfall hidden amongst the lush trees of the rainforest above. Locals walk along the roadside and children stand outside their doorsteps as if waiting for someone special to appear. And then, the vehicle bumps to a stop. You have arrived.
Pouring out of Bonito National Park near the western coastal town of La Ceiba. The Rio Cangrejal is a wild, fast-flowing river choked with enormous boulders and narrow passageways filled with steep drops and technical rock gardens.
Don’t expect any large outfitters here – rafting is still relatively new and it’s not uncommon to see only a few boats on the river during even the busiest times of year. But that’s what makes the Rio Cangrejal so special – on the river it’s hard to believe anyone else is even around.
“Get down!” our rafting guide shouted as our boat passed through a labyrinth of towering rocks about the size of a two-story house. I myself was a river guide, many years ago, and the razor-thin passageways along the “Rio Cangrejal” (Cangrejal River) in La Ceiba, Honduras were bringing back memories of nasty flips and scary swims.
“Get up!” Our guide yelled right before entering a passageway. I sprang up, ready to paddle. “Forward! Forward! Go!” I quickly dove my paddle into the water, and found I was competing for space with the towering rock wall. Suddenly, the rock walls fell away, and we entered a technical rock garden with no end in sight; but I couldn’t have been happier with the less-claustrophobic challenge ahead.
This was my experience during a recent trip to La Ceiba. I got the chance to raft the lower class II-IV section of the Cangrejal River. Our guide was stellar – he spoke enough English to communicate, knew the river extremely well, and when things went screwy he fixed them instantly. The highlight of the trip had to be the scenery. Pico Bonito National Park towers to the east, while 1,000-foot waterfalls pour from a dense cloud forest so think the rock cliffs are covered with lush vegetation. The riverbanks are filled with wildlife and on a rare occasion a jaguar will emerge out of the trees to take a drink. Though I wasn’t lucky enough to see one, I could picture the magical experience as we floated downstream.
Unlike many of the river trips in the U.S., the Rio Canrejal is a wild river and not controlled by dams upstream. Daily weather can influence the flow making rapids tamer or increasing their difficulty level exponentially. There are currently three outfitters available to take visitors down. Plan on spending about three hours on the river depending on the flow.
Ziplines on The Bay Island of Roatan, Honduras
I’m not sure what was more exciting: standing on the platform just before taking my first leap of faith, or watching one of my fellow writers decide braking was overrated and fly into the safety block at full speed. The time I spent on the island of Roatan was spectacular, and a canopy zip line tour is a must for visitors looking to experience a shot or two of adrenaline. Aside from lounging on the miles of white sand beaches with little tourists, zip line tours are a staple adventure activity throughout Honduras.
Flying through a rainforest canopy at blinding speeds, it’s hard not to feel like superman on steroids. Located a short 20 minutes flight from La Ceiba, the island of Roatan pulls out all the stops when it comes to zip line tours. Three different tours can be found on the island and the two tours located in the West Bay area both start high and plunge towards the sea along a series of lines stretching up to several hundred feet long.
Though I didn’t get a chance to try out all the tours, I did spend an afternoon on the canopy zip line at Gumbalimba Park. The tour began with a quick safety talk and then we were off zipping along at various speeds while drinking in views of the ocean below and birds soaring overhead. The hour-long tour was a spectacular way to see the forests canopy while safely bringing me out of my comfort zone, (I tend to like water. The whole air thing is still a little new.) and the perfect way to end my Honduras tour.
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For those of you who prefer our native Spanish Language which is prevalent on the Honduran Mainland; we offer you Honduras en Español. On the Bay Islands of Honduras English is the prevailing language; however you will encounter Spanish speaking Hondurans during many of your activities at the various Honduras Hotels and Resorts and Honduran Restaurants. So this handy Guide to Honduras Slang to ease you in understanding the meaning of many Honduras sayings and can go a long ways during your travels in Honduras. Consider it your homework!
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An easy way to check what is going on in the areas you visit during your travels of our country is to check the Daily Honduras Newspapers for which we have provided you with this handy one stop Honduras Newspapers page to assist in maximizing your Holiday time in Honduras.
The Honduras.com Team.