Honduras is an Eco Adventure

 Since 29 October   Cayman airways now operates a twice-weekly non-stop jet service from Grand Cayman to Honduras on Thursdays and Mondays.

The flights go to La Ceiba the third largest city in Honduras.

La Ceiba lies along the North coast of Honduras and is known as the tourist capital because of its lively nightlife and beaches boasts .It also is a centre for Honduras burgeoning eco tourism industry due to the easy access to National parks and reserves and also because it is a departure point for the Bay islands, famous for their scuba diving.

The Bay Islands
There are three Islas de la Bahía, Roatan, Utila and Guanaja.They lie along the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-longest coral reef in the world. Here divers can discover a trove of riches: vibrant coral, massive sponges, multicoloured fish and large pelagic species, like manta rays, sea turtles and whale sharks.

The islands have a colourful history.  Pirates and buccaneers used them as bases. .

In terms of tourism, the Bay Islands offer three difference experiences. Roatan is the most developed and has a bit of everything: budget and luxury hotels, independent dive shops and all-inclusive resorts, tangled mangroves and easy eco-parks, as well as activities for divers and non divers alike.

Utila is smaller and flatter and attracts a younger crowd because it is apparently one of the cheapest places to gain a dive certificate.

Guanaja is the least visited, there is only one road so many places have to be accessed by boat .It is the highest of the islands, Michael Rock Peak rises to 1350 feet and makes for a good day’s hiking if you need a break from diving.

Parque Nacional Pico Bonito
Parque National Pico Bonito is one of Honduras best known national parks, with forests, rivers, waterfalls and its varied   wildlife.

The park covers 500sqmetres and features more than 7 different ecosystems because of its changing altitudes. The National Park has a selection of different habitats.

It is also one of the least explored national parks in Honduras, leaving the park in its natural condition with only a handful of trails.

The vegetation commences with tropical rainforest and broad leaf forests. Then after approximately 1200 meters it diversifies to cloud forest

Pico Bonito is home to jaguars, armadillos, wild pigs, tepescuintes, squirrels, monkeys, toucans, white tailed deer, mountain lions, river otters, motmots and many more species.

Another highlight of Pico Bonito is that it has areas of lowland dry forest which are scarce in Honduras, making it a great location to observe the more endangered and endemic birds and plants.

Tourists have to stick to designated trails, an example being the Zacate River Trail which is approximately 1.5 km long and follows the path of the river Zacate. There is a waterfall at the end of the trail and  swimming holes along the way .

Rising above the park is the Pico Bonito .Over 2000 metres in height. The difficult terrain means it needs special equipment and   takes ten days to climb and so not many have attempted it.

Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
Cueroy Salado Wildlife Refuge is located just 33 km from La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast. The area forms a triangle encompassed by the Cuero and Salado rivers, as well as the coast, and extends over 13,255 hectares .It was designated a protected area in 1986 because of its endangered manatee population, and because of the complex series of saltwater and freshwater wetlands it contains. The park protects about 35 species of animals, including manatees, Jaguar, Jabiru, whiteface and other species of monkeys, as well as alligators and a great diversity of fish species. The area is also rich in bird life, with 198 different species (about 28% of the total bird species found in Honduras). There is also a rich variety of vegetation supporting the animal life, including primary forests, lush mangroves and different types of palm.

Cangrejal River Rafting
Some of the best white water rafting in Central America is to be found in La Ceiba. The Cangrejal river offers class II, III and IV rapids, all within a short 45 minute drive from downtown La Ceiba.

Cacao Lagoon
Located approximately 24 km. east of La Ceiba, on the highway that leads to Trujillo. This small oceanside lagoon is totally surrounded by mangrove forests, where a variety of tropical birds can be seen. In addition, there are 8 troops of monkeys that inhabit the area, of which some are howler monkeys and the others are white face monkeys.

The village makes a living from its cacao and sugar cane plantations. Cacao, a rare tropical fruit native to America was used in pre-Columbian times as money, due to the great value that the native Indians gave to it. Today, it is the main ingredient in the manufacturing of chocolate. Within the town you can see the Cacao bushes, as well as the sugar cane plantations and the still in use ox driven sugar mill.

Cayos Cochinos
Finally worth a visit is the Cayos Cochinos, the small islands which are visible to the east-northeast of La Ceiba. There are two islands as well as a series of smaller keys. Cayos Cochinos is National Marine Park in Honduras and is protected by law. Of the two small islands, Cochino Grande and Cochino Pequeno, only the larger one is inhabited. On Cochino Pequeño there is a small station of scientists and park rangers, and the park is strictly controlled by them. The Smithsonian Institute administers the park as part of a long term study to determine the impact of population on the nature reserve.

For details of flights to La Ceiba visit Air Cayman website www.caymanairways.com

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