Guide: Honduras

hondThe people of Honduras are extraordinary. You can always expect a smile and a friendly warm embrace wherever you go.

Like most of the countries in this region the majority of the people are poor.

Honduras is a country stuck in time, not succumbing to the ideals and fast-paced occidental societal pressures that have taken other Central American countries by surprise.

Take some time and mingle with the people, you will never forget their warm hearts and giving personalities.

Driving within Honduras is quite pleasant.

The majority of the roads are very good, except for the road leading to and away from Copan.

The police and the military do not bother you too much.

There are several police checkpoints and sometimes the police and the military run roadside blitzes.

Always travel with your paperwork.

Mayan Ruins

While you are in Honduras take the time to enjoy this unique part of the world. However you choose to enter, plan a day at the Mayan ruins of Copán.

If you entered at the Aqua Caliente border crossing continue on past Santa Rosa de Copán to La Entrada. Turn left at the La Entrada junction and continue toward Copán, the turn off is almost immediately after entering this city of La Entrada.

From here it is about a two hour drive.

The road is generally good and paved except for a very small section as you near the ruins.

The museum in Copan is considered to be the foremost in Central America.

The entry way is like a portal, something like you would see at Copán’s Temple 22.

Inside the museum are numerous serpent carvings, the Rosalila excavations and currently the Copán stela originals are being brought into the museum for preservation—don’t miss this spectacular exhibition.

Entering Honduras

Driving within Honduras is quite pleasant.

The majority of the roads are very good, except for the road leading to and away from Copan.

Immigration & Aduana

Same procedure, proceed to immigration and receive your entry visa and stamp, $2 US.

Aduana will request the usual paperwork and identification: passport, car registration, car title, and driver’s license.

The officers will then type a Permiso De Entrada—Salida Temporal and Fuerzas Armadas De Honduras.

These forms will allow you and your vehicle passage in Honduras for 30 days, cost is $30 US.

There is another form that lists about 50 miscellaneous items the officers may fill-in for additional charges.

If you plan to stay in Honduras for longer than 30 days you must go to the Transit Police station and Migration office before the expiration date in order to secure an extension—this extension may be for up to six months.

Military

Next you must pass a military inspection, $2 US for the transit permit. Show the officer your documents and passport.

He will check them along with your personal belongings and then let you proceed when he feels that all the regulations are fulfilled.

Military inspections always seem to be the most tedious and difficult—have patience and don’t forget to smile.

Copan to San Pedro Sula
Driving Time: 3 hours
Kilometers: 171
Miles: 106
Hwy: CA 1

From Copan head towards La Entrada, about a one hour drive.

At La Entrada you can travel on to San Pedro Sula or turn right towards Santa Rosa de Copan.

Please note that Santa Rosa de Copan is different from Copan and the department (equivalent to a county or province) that you are in, which is called Copan.

Therefore, when asking for directions be specific.

Copan to San Pedro Sula will take you approximately 3 hours.

There are many places to stay in San Pedro Sula—make sure you park your car in a Parqueo for safety, car theft is notorious in San Pedro Sula. T

here are several parqueos next to Central Plaza and the Gran Hotel Sula—use them!

From Esquipulas to San Pedro Sula
Driving Time: 4 hours
Kilometers: 235
Miles: 146
Hwy: CA 1

From Esquipulas head for Santa Rosa de Copan.

At Santa Rosa de Copan, you can go on to San Pedro Sula via La Entrada.

The first few hours will take you through breathtaking mountains; after passing Santa Rosa de Copan follow the signs for La Entrada.

An alternate route is to head toward La Esperanza and then on to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

Learned Lessons

Don’t drive these roads at night.

There are many animals along the road and theft is common around La Entrada.

Most of the roads are very good and you can expect to maintain a comfortable speed.

Nevertheless, remember that you are sharing the roadway with children, livestock, carts and parked vehicles—take your time and enjoy the scenery.

Special Directions

The route via La Entrada and San Pedro Sula is visually stimulating and the roads are in great condition. If you want to visit the coast or the Bay Islands, this is the route to take.

Copan

While you are in Honduras take the time to enjoy this unique part of the world. However you choose to enter, plan a day at the Mayan ruins of Copán.

If you entered at the Aqua Caliente border crossing continue on past Santa Rosa de Copán to La Entrada.

Turn left at the La Entrada junction and continue toward Copán, the turn off is almost immediately after entering this city of La Entrada.

From here it is about a two hour drive. The road is generally good and paved except for a very small section as you near the ruins.

This gorgeous village with cobbled streets passing among white adobe buildings with red-tiled roofs and small cafes is 1km from the famous Maya ruins.

As you pass the ruins drive around the curve and into the heart of the town.

The village has a lovely colonial church and a timeless pace, everything slows down in Copan.

The archaeological site at the ruins is open daily and includes the Stelae of the Great Plaza, portraying the rulers of Copán, dating from 613; the ball court and hieroglyphic stairway; and the Acropolis, which has superb carved relics of the 16 kings of Copán.

There are hot springs a one-hour drive from the village, and the nearby picturesque mountain village of Santa Rita de Copán has a beautiful plaza and a peaceful colonial church.

San Pedro Sula—Tegucigalpa—Choluteca
Driving Time: 6 hours
Kilometers: 330
Miles: 204
Hwy: CA 1

The splendid drive between San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa takes about 4 hours.

You will pass through miles of pineapple fields as you ascend into the mountains that surround this beautiful area.

At Tegus head through town and follow the signs for Choluteca, CA 1.

This is a 2 hour drive descending from the mountains.

As you drive this route there are a lot of things to see which may perk your interest.

There are small shops situated along the road which offer fruits, candy and pottery particular to each distinctive region. The fruits are particularly delicious and shamefully inexpensive, pick some up for lunch.

If your stomach is rumbling, stop at one of the fifty or so restaurants located along Lago de Yojoa for a delicious and an economical fish meal.

A few miles past the lake you can explore underground caverns at Las Cuevas de Taulabe.

About 20 miles before you reach Tegucigalpa there is a picnic area and zoo called Parque Aurora.

This is a great place to stop and rest before entering Tegus.

Learned Lessons

Follow the highway through Tegus and head toward Choluteca.

There are plenty of gas stations outside the city on the San Pedro Sula—Tegus route, thus don’t worry about filling up in San Pedro Sula. However, fill up before you leave Tegucigalpa because there are few stations between Tegus and Choluteca.

If you need to exchange money before entering Nicaragua, do so in Tegucigalpa.

Very few places in Nicaragua will exchange travelers cheques.

Don’t forget that you must have US DOLLARS for your entry into Nicaragua!

Special Directions

Follow the signs leading out of San Pedro Sula toward Tegus.

You can expect thick fog in the upper mountain regions, thus watch your speed and take special precaution if you are driving at night.

Visa

You get a 90 day visa for your car as long as you have the TITLE in your name.

You can NOT extend it.

You must leave the country with your car for at least 3 days after the 90 days and then you can re-enter for another 90 days.

If you overstay the 90 days you will be fined U$180.00 and be expelled.

Also, tourists get a 90 day visa that can only be extended for 30 days at a whack and it is a big hassle to do that.

So, you must also leave the country for at least 3 days and then return. However, when you leave – you must go to a country outside of the CA-4 (Honduras, Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua) for that period of time.

This has become a huge problem for those of us who are living here working in long-term efforts that are humanitarian in nature and don’t want to spend the thousands of dollars required to get residency

Choluteca, Honduras—Nicaragua Border

Driving Time: 1 hours
Kilometers: 58
Miles: 36
Hwy: CA 1

From Choluteca you may cross the border into Nicaragua via Guasaule or El Espino.

If you want to visit the beaches in northern Nicaragua, head for the frontera at Guasaule.

For those traveling to Managua, Costa Rica, or the beaches in the south, head for the frontera at El Espino.

Further north their is also a border crossing at Los Manos.

Lessons Learned

You can expect a headache when entering Nicaragua. After leaving Tegu you will descend from the mountains into a hot, dry valley.

There are several twists and turns in the road, thus after you leave Choluteca head for the appropriate border city (depending on your route in Nicaragua). Choluteca is the junction point for Guasaule or El Espino.

The main border crossing between Honduras and Nicaragua is at Los Manos.

You may cross at any of the three sites depending on your travel destination in Nicaragua.

Surfers will want to cross at El Espino and head for the beaches in the north.

There are some great breaks near the city of Leon. The most popular break is at Poneloya.

Special Directions
If you find yourself at El Espino and you want to visit the northern beaches, head for Leon at San Isidro when you cross into Nicaragua.

Departing Honduras

Upon reaching the border you will be inundated by local people.

Several are moneychangers and others are guides.

Guides, I didn’t want to take a trek through the jungle?

The guides, which are non-official unemployed locals, will hold your hand and take you through the bureaucratic process at the border.

I highly recommend hiring a guide, they are not expensive and their help is well-worth the money!

Find a guide that looks trustworthy, you can expect to pay between $10—$20 US.

Offer half of whatever fee is requested.

My guide requested $20 US for her services, we agreed on $10 US.

The guide will take all of your documents to the Honduran border offices.

Eventually the guide will return with a Honduran official and he will ask the usual questions and take a look at your vehicle.

The official will then give you the official OK to leave the country.

Then the guide will take you into the Honduran Aduana building where you must pay an exit fee of $2 US.

This procedure is somewhat confusing, but with the guide all will go well.

Lastly, hand your stamped papers to the gatekeeper and you’re on your way to Nicaragua.

Hopefully you have had a good nights rest because your head’s going to spin; Nicaragua is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Learned Lessons

Bargain with the guides and always offer half the asking price for their services, or less if the fee seems exorbitantly high. Theoretically you don’t need a guide, but they make the process much easier and hassle-free.

Special Directions

Double check your papers and passport for proper exit and entry stamps when the guide or official returns it to you.

Enjoying Honduras

Tegucigalpa

The capital of Honduras is a busy, noisy city nestled into a bowl-shaped valley nearly 1000m (3280ft) above sea level. It has a fresh and pleasant climate, and the surrounding ring of mountains is covered in pine trees.

The name Tegucigalpa means ‘silver hill’ in the local dialect, and it was bestowed when the Spanish founded the city as a mining center in 1578.

Fortunately, the locals call the city Tegus for short, saving foreigners the embarrassment of mispronouncing the full name.

Tegucigalpa became the capital in 1880 and, in 1938, the nearby settlement of Comayagüela was incorporated into the city.

The focus of the city is the domed 18th-century cathedral, which has a baroque interior full of fine art.

Parque Central, in front of the cathedral, is the hub of the city. Interesting buildings include the old university, Antiguo Paraninfo Universitaria, now an art museum; the modern Palacio Legislativo, which is built on stilts; the Casa Presidencial; and the 16th-century Iglesia de San Francisco, the first church built in Tegucigalpa.

The city is divided by the Río Choluteca. On the east side is Tegucigalpa, with the city center and more affluent districts; across the river is Comayagüela, a poorer, dirtier market area with lots of long-distance bus stations and cheap hotels.

It is cleaner, safer and more pleasant to stay in Tegucigalpa, although popular wisdom says it’s cheaper in Comayagüela. If you do stay in Comayagüela,

it’s very dangerous to walk through the market area at night. The main area for budget accommodations in

Tegucigalpa is a few blocks east of the Parque Central; in Comayagüela, the best cheap hotels are around the El Rey and Aurora bus stations, between 8a and 9a Calles.

Most of the good restaurants are on the Tegucigalpa side of the river, but Comayagüela has plenty of cheap Chinese restaurants. In Tegucigalpa, Boulevard Morazán and Avenida Juan Pablo II are the main nightlife areas.

Around Tegucigalpa

There are plenty of attractions around Tegucigalpa, including the huge Gothic Basílica de Suyapa, 7km (4mi) southeast of the city center.

The Virgen de Suyapa, patron saint of Honduras, is believed to have performed hundreds of miracles. Santa Lucia, 13km (8mi) east of the city, is a charming old Spanish town with meandering lanes and a beautiful church. Valle de Angeles, 11km (7mi) past Santa Lucia, is an old Spanish mining town restored to its 16-century appearance. La Tigra National Park, northeast of the city, is one of the most beautiful places in Honduras.

Located at an altitude of 2270m (7446ft), the pristine 7482-hectare (18,480-acre) park preserves a lush cloud forest that is home to ocelots, pumas, monkeys and quetzal.

Comayagua

Comayagua was the capital of Honduras from 1537 to 1880, and retains much evidence of its colonial importance.

The cathedral in the center of the town is a gem. Built between 1685 and 1715, it contains much fine art and boasts one of the oldest clocks in the world. The clock was made over 800 years ago by the Moors for the palace of Alhambra in Seville, and was donated to the town by King Philip II of Spain.

The first university in Central America was founded in Comayagua in 1632 in the Casa Cural, which now houses the Museo Colonial.

The museum has religious art spanning four centuries of colonial rule. Comayagua’s first church was La Merced, built between 1550 and 1558; other fine churches include San Francisco (1584) and La Caridad (1730).

Copán Ruinas

This beautiful village with cobbled streets passing among white adobe buildings with red-tiled roofs is 1km from the famous Maya ruins of the same name.

The village has a lovely colonial church and an aura of timeless peace. The archaeological site at the ruins is open daily and includes the Stelae of the Great Plaza, portraying the rulers of Copán, dating from 613; the ball court and hieroglyphic stairway; and the Acropolis, which has superb carved relics of the 16 kings of Copán.

There are hot springs a one-hour drive from the village, and the nearby picturesque mountain village of Santa Rita de Copán has a beautiful plaza and a peaceful colonial church.

Tela

Tela is many travelers’ favorite Honduran Caribbean beach town. It’s a small, quiet place, with superb seafood, several good places to stay and some of the most beautiful beaches on the northern coast.

It’s basically a place for relaxing and enjoying the simple life.

There are plans to boost tourism in the area, so see the place while it’s still unspoiled and quiet.

The best beach is east of the town, in front of the Hotel Villas Telamar.

It has pale, powdery sand and a shady grove of coconut trees.

Trujillo

The small town of Trujillo has played an important role in Central American history.

It was near Trujillo on August 14, 1502, that Colombus first set foot on the American mainland.

The town sits on the wide arc of the Bahía de Trujillo and is famed for its lovely beaches, coconut palms and gentle seas.

Though it has a reputation as one of the country’s best Caribbean beach towns, it’s not usually full of tourists, except during the annual festival in late June.

Apart from the attractions of the beach, there is a 17th-century fortress, the grave of William Walker and a Museo Arqueológico.

To the west of the town is the Barrio Cristales, where the Garífuna people live; this is the place to go for music, dancing and revelry.

Bay Islands

Roatán, Guanaja and Utila—50km (31mi) off the north coast of Honduras—are a continuation of the Belizean reefs and offer great snorkeling and diving.

The islands’ economy is based mostly on fishing, but tourism is becoming increasingly important.

Utila retains low-key tourist facilities, while Roatán is gradually joining Guanaja as a more up-market retreat.

Most travelers head to West End on Roatán, but Utila is the cheapest of the three islands to visit.

island you visit, make sure you bring plenty of insect repellent, because the sand flies are voracious, especially during the rainy season.

The islands have an interesting history, including evidence of Maya occupation.

Columbus landed on Guanaja in 1502, but the Spanish later enslaved the islanders and sent them to work on plantations in Cuba and in the gold and silver mines of Mexico.

By 1528, the islands were completely depopulated. English, French and Dutch pirates then occupied the islands, followed by the Garífuna, who were shipped here by the British after an uprising on St Vincent.

The islands, in many ways, still look more toward England and the US than to the Honduran mainland, and a richly Caribbean version of English is the main language.

Environment

Honduras is the knee of Central America, bordered to the south by Nicaragua and El Salvador and to the west by Guatemala.

It has a 644km (399mi) long Caribbean coast and a 124km (77mi) pipsqueak of a Pacific coast. The Caribbean Bay Islands and, further northeast, the distant Swan Islands are both part of Honduran territory.

Three-quarters of the country is composed of rugged hills and mountains, ranging from 300 to nearly 2850m (984 to 9348ft) in height.

Lowlands are found only along the coasts and in major river valleys. Deforestation is occurring at a rate of 3000 sq km (1170 sq mi) a year, which, if continued, will turn the country into a treeless desert within the next 20 years.

However, there are still largely untouched areas, especially in the Mosquitia region. Fauna includes jaguars, armadillos, wild pigs, monkeys and alligators and abundant bird life such as toucans, herons and kingfishers.

The climate in Honduras varies between the mountainous interior and the coastal lowlands and between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

The interior is much cooler than the humid coast, and temperate Tegucigalpa has maximum temperatures varying between 25 and 30°C (77 and 86°F).

The rainy season technically begins in May and lasts until October.

This means that the interior and Pacific coast are relatively dry between November and April, but on the Caribbean coast it rains all year. The wettest months on the Caribbean coast are from September/October to January/February.

The tourist season on the Caribbean coast is between February and April, during the US winter.

This is a good time to visit, but prices will be lower and there will be fewer tourists if you avoid this season.

,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes