Lake Yojoa, Pulhapanzapak Waterfall, Tela, La Ceiba, Utila, Rio Congrejal, Copan
Honduras still has this bad reputation of being one of the most dangerous countries in the world. We have been warned by some people, in a friendly manner, to take a real good care. We tried not making any assumptions about Honduras, and we avoided reading too much online (if you listened to these official e.g. US and UK government travel advise you probably would never go anywhere). So let’s get over with it and answer the question: did we ever feel in danger in Honduras? We’re happy to answer with a big NO! That being said, we should tell you that we didn’t go to the cities like Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula which are very often described as the most dangerous places in Honduras and even locals told us they don’t go there unless they really have to; they also told us their experiences of being robbed in those cities.
From the moment we crossed the border from Nicaragua, we were very positively surprised with Honduras. We were suddenly driving on the most beautiful highway I have ever seen. Surrounded by big mountains and stopped by military who basically just wanted to wish us a good day, first impressions of Honduras were just WOW.
It was time for our first stop in a camping before making the way towards the Caribbean coast. Another surprise: it was the most beautiful camping we have stayed at until that point. Huuuugeee area with swimming pool, lake, restaurant, bbq spots, tables and chairs, and most importantly, clean showers and toilets. We loved Honduras already. The next day, we made our way to the beautiful and serene Lake Yojoa. A warm and sunny day called for a visit to a local brewery (expensive but the most beautiful brewery setting ever) and then for some more refreshment by kayaking on the lake. Kayaking seems to have become a recurrent activity for us; I love it way more than Jorge; there’s something about the exercising and enjoying the serenity at the same time but Jorge always complains how kayak hurts his back. I guess we’re in that age now LOL. Well, we did have to kayak on the canal for a good hour before reaching the actual lake and we did get caught up in a huge rain on the way back but it was absolutely beautiful and worth it nevertheless.
We then had another surprise on the way back from kayaking, not the nicest one this time. Camping at the lake proved to be a bit challenging; we found a spot near the lake but it rained so much that we got stuck in the mud and had to ask for help to get out. It’s funny to look back at it now but at the moment it was pretty shitty. Our amazing pilot Jorge got Rusty out of mud and we went to search for a less muddy sleeping spot. We were faced once and again with the kindness of people of Honduras. We found a nice café which was about to close and asked if we could camp there. They allowed us to their property for free and even excused themselves for toilets not being super clean (and they were spotless, in comparison to the many toilets we have seen before). We’ve spent a calm night and I woke up well rested and smiley. It was time to visit the Pulhapanzak waterfalls, an incredible nature park close to Lake Yojoa. Imagine falling asleep with the sound of a waterfall and then wake up, have coffee and swim in the river next to the waterfall. Don’t even get me started on the views and the fact we had the entire nature park to ourselves that night.
Every day in Honduras brought beautiful places and people. Soon enough, we have arrived to the Caribbean coast and decided to spend 3 nights in the parking lot of a hotel in Tela. Parking lot doesn’t sound super attractive, but… add an amazing swimming pool next to it, hammocks, access to a private beach and many conversations with a nice lady working there and you have the winning combination. On the negative side, Honduran mosquitos seemed to have LOVED us in Tela and it was, as you can imagine, really really hot but what else can you expect from the Carribean? We couldn’t complain at all.
It was around this time when we decided to visit the Bay Islands and then I convinced Jorge that he has to have another adventure (without me this time) and get his diving licence. We joked later that I was “pushing him” to do this so I can spend some time on my own, but the truth is that Jorge knows me and that’s exactly what I wanted. LOL. No. I just knew he can’t miss the opportunity of diving in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world, learning diving in a very professional school and in the cheapest place in the world to do so. So, off we went to Utila, one of Honduras’s Bay Islands.
Utila is a small island that can be (mostly) explored on foot or scooter. We got to the island on the fanciest (but shakiest) ferry I have ever seen and as soon as we arrived we loved the vibe. Most of people there are divers and divers seem to be chill and cool and know how to party. Jorge started his diving course the day after our arrival and I started my own little routine: coffee, swimming pool, beach, book, blog. We both loved our days in Utila and Jorge, up to this day, cannot stop talking about diving. As the matter of fact, he is diving right now as I am writing this (in Mexico). I guess planning our future trips will also depend on the diving sites but that is totally ok for me; it means that there is a beach and, while I don’t like tanning and spending hours in the sun, watching the sea and listening to waves is one of my favourite things in the world.
Jorge made many bubbles in the water, I read many chapters of my falling-apart book and it was time to return to the mainland. Upon the return from Utila, we visited the largest botanical garden in Americas in La Ceiba; we saw many beautiful and many poisonous plants, got bitten by a thousand mosquitoes and then left for Rio Congrejal, world-famous for rafting. At this time, we have had enough of water sports so instead of rafting, we spent time talking to people and playing with the cutest animals, while having amazing views.
The last stop in Honduras was Copan – a famous site of Mayan ruins and a beautiful little town. Mayan temples were super impressive but the temperature was crazy: we couldn’t stop sweating and couldn’t spend more than 3 hours on the site. We were happy but absolutely dehydrated. That’s a good way to shortly describe Honduras, it will make you happy and thirsty for more.
So for all of you still leaving Honduras at the bottom of your travel lists, please move it up. This country has everything; the most beautiful highways, great food, very kind people, great art, history, nature… something for everyone really. Don’t be stupid and get wasted in San Pedro Sula on your own at 3 AM and you will be totally fine. We said goodbye to Honduras in Copan and crossed the border to a very colourful Guatemala where we stayed for a whole month.