TOURS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
Cangrejal River Rafting
The Cangrejal River has become a symbol of world class white water rafting in Central America. For over 15 years, it has been the foremost rafting site in Honduras, and its superb quality rapids, which offer a nice, technical level with pristine forests, easy access and incredibly clear water have earned it a prime name in the rafting and kayaking circles. The river has actually 4 different sections that can be run, depending on the degree of expertise. The regular commercially run section is about ¼ mile upriver from La Villa de Soledad, and can be clearly seen from our front porch! This section offers a variety of 3 to 6 foot drops into pools. A short canyon offers fast water, technical class III and IV rapids and lovely scenery floating amidst house size boulders. The trip is usually a 3 hour exhilarating experience. The lush tropical rain forest of Pico Bonito National Park provides a unique background, with the possibility of seeing a variety of tropical birds, including keel billed toucans.
A slightly more technical run is the stretch between the communities of El Pital and Las Mangas, which provides more class IV runs. Finally, if you are an expert kayaker, the run from Las Mangas to El Naranjo finishes right in front of La Villa de Soledad and provides a nice variety of class III, IV and even a V rapid.
Some well traveled white water experts claim that the Cangrejal River offers the best white water in Central America and Mexico. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert, your white water rafting adventure on the Rio Cangrejal will surely be a memorable experience that you will cherish for a lifetime!
A zip line canopy tour into the Pico Bonito National Park is located right on the opposite side of the Cangrejal River and a short half a mile away from La Villa de Soledad B&B. Jungle River Tours headquarters are only 800 meters (2500ft) downriver from us, making it a short 5 minute walk. The tour will take you across the river on a zip line, and then a short hike into the rainforest will bring you to the first station from where your exhilarating experience will begin. A total of nine different stations will interconnect you via a zip line across the jungle canopy. Professional staff always there to take care of your safety and help you at each station. On the last and final stretch will fly across the river once again to land safely on the road side of the river.
Another Canopy tour option is in Sambo Creek, within a 45 minute trip from La Villa de Soledad. This option is on the Nombre de Dios Mountains, offering views of the Caribbean Sea and the lovely Cayos Cochinos Marine Park. Perhaps the biggest difference here is that your tour will end at a spectacular setting, where natural hot springs, cascade down a jungle stream providing a perfect hot water pool where you can soothe your muscles and relax your nerves after the excitement of this exhilarating adventure. Definitely worth the extra time to get here!
Also known as the Hog Islands, this small archipelago is only 14 km from the North Coast of Honduras and offers a true paradise to those seeking a natural tropical Caribbean setting. Day trips to lovely Cayos Cochinos are easily organized. The fastest, most practical departure site is in the Garifuna community of Sambo Creek, a nice traditional Garifuna community right on the beach, about 18 km east of La Ceiba and almost south of these lovely Caribbean islands. Cayos Cochinos was declared a national marine monument by the Congress of Honduras and is a protected area that has attracted the interest and support from many international conservation agencies, amongst which we can mention the Smithsonian Institute from Washington D.C. The trip to Cayos from Sambo Creek is about a 45 minute boat ride, could be shorter or longer, depending on surf conditions, it is generally recommended that you depart as early in the morning as possible, as surf always picks up in the afternoon, so you should plan on being back on the mainland around 3 p.m. Lunch can be found on the islands either at the Plantation Beach Resort dive resort or at the Garifuna community on Chachahuate Cay.
Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
This is one of the nature icons of La Ceiba. It is also the birthplace of the banana and fruit industry in Honduras! Located a short 30 km from La Villa de Soledad, Cuero y Salado is a large area of protected mangrove swamps, canals and beaches that is home to a large variety of birds, many crocodiles and although not easily seen, its emblematic manatee. Access to Cuero y Salado is via an old narrow gage railroad track. This is part of the original Standard Fruit Railroad, and was used to enter the area which originally produced bananas but was then converted a large coconut plantation to export copra. The trip from the community of La Union, which is where you take the train into the refuge, to the community of Salado Barra, which is on the other end of the track will take you about 20 minutes. En route you will pass an area that is dedicated to cattle grazing, and as you get close to your destination, a coconut tree plantation. There is a spacious visitor’s center at Salado Barra, where you can purchase food, hire guide services and stroll through an interpretation area that describes the reserve and its natural inhabitants. FUCSA, the local NGO that manages the reserve has its offices here and can provide you with a trip on a motorboat throughout the canals. There are also some canoes for those that prefer to paddle into the canals. Make sure you take a guide to avoid getting lost! The best time to see the reserve is early in the morning, so make sure you are at La Union by 7:00 a.m. when the first train departs towards Salado Barra! This is definitely a full day tour!
Pico Bonito National Park
Pico Bonito National Park is located on the north coast of Honduras, and is one of the largest national parks in Central America. Pico Bonito probably offers the most bio-diverse geographical area in North America, due to the rugged area within this park. Habitats ranging from sea level mangroves to tropical cloud forests, with tropical rain forests and tropical dry forests are all within its boundaries. On the eastern side of the park the Cangrejal River is the natural boundary. The Nombre de Dios Mountains are the main visible feature of this lovely park, with Pico Bonito being the unique peak that has become an icon of this park, with 2,435m above sea level (approximately 8,000 ft). The park offers two areas that are open and accessible to the public, the first is close to the community of El Pino, just west of La Ceiba. Within this area you can find The Lodge at Pico Bonito, a lovely Eco resort that has become an icon of the park. The Lodge offers lovely private trails that are available to their hotel guests. Arrangements can be made to visit the trails and spend the day at the Lodge.
The second, more accessible area with trails is within the Cangrejal River. Here a visitor’s center gives access to a splendid 120 meter (almost 400ft.) Indiana Jones style hanging bridge that crosses the magnificent Cangrejal River into the park itself. A well kept trail leads into the forest to the lovely El Bejuco waterfall. The round trip trail will take a good 3 ½ hours to the waterfall and back.
The Cangrejal River visitor’s center is located only 100m (300ft) from La Villa de Soledad. Thus, it is perfect to get up early in the morning for a hike into the park to take advantage of this time of the day to see the local wildlife. Although mammals are hard to see, there are a variety of different mammals that have been seen within this area of the park, including the majestic jaguar, its smaller cousin the jaguarundi, river otters and even anteaters. More easily seen are a variety of birds, including motmots, toucans, parrots and many others. Local guides can be arranged for your hike into Pico Bonito National Park. Our pet Danger, a Jack Russell Terrier spends a good part of her day looking for vermin to hunt. She has had close encounters (rather smelly, by the way) with skunks, she has also found a porcupine (her nose suffered from one of its spines) as well as squirrels, guatusas, and other rodents!
Finally there is another area close by that offers nice easy hiking, in the village of Las Mangas, only 3 miles up the river from La Villa de Soledad. Here, you can hire the services of young guides that are part of Guaruma, a local NGO that encourages environmental education through the lens of a camera. Many of these young girls and boys are true nature photographers who have built a nature trail and provide guided tours. The trail offers easy hiking, and will show you several interesting native plants and birds, as well as the opportunity to cross a creek over a hanging bridge and quick dip into a crystal clear creek with inviting swimming holes. This hiking option allows you to combine getting to know local members of the community while enjoying nature, a perfect combination!.