Did you know that there are three World Heritage Sites in Honduras?

Beach and fishing boats at Garifuna Village in Chachahuate Cay, Cayos Cochinos

As of June 2015, Honduras now has three sites that have been designated as such by the Unesco! All three World Heritage Sites in Honduras are truly unique and deserve to be included in the list of these protected sites. We are talking about the Mayan Archaeological site of Copan Ruinas,  the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in the Moskitia region of Honduras, located on the Caribbean Coast, close to the border with Nicaragua and the new Cacique Lempira, Senor de Las Montanas Biosphere Reserve in Western Honduras.

The Archaeological site in Copan is the only Cultural World Heritage sites in Honduras, and is a magnificent example of the unique, extremely advanced Mayan Civilization in Meso America. Copan is not only the most studied Mayan Archaeological site in the World; it is also the one that has more elaborate high relief sculptures. The buildings, stelaes and altars in Copan boast an abundance of hieroglyphs that make the site truly unique. The largest surviving Mayan Hieroglyphic text belonging to the Mayan Culture can be found at the hieroglyphic stairway in Copan!

Altars, such as “Altar Q” tell us the story of K’inich Yax Kuk Mo and his dynasty, including the names of all 16 members of the royal family who governed this city state during a period of almost 4 centuries! Copan is truly a magnificent jewel that is well worth visiting! In your travels to Copan, you will be surprised to find that Copan, unlike other Mayan Archaeological sites that have also been designated World Heritage Sites, has a lovely, truly charming colonial like town that is within walking distance of the archaeological site. This means that you can have the best of both worlds! A World Class Archaeological Park that is one of Unesco’s World Heritage sites in Honduras and a nice town where you will find hotels and restaurants with a unique atmosphere and character to provide for a true Central American experience.

The other two World Heritage sites in Honduras are both under the category of Natural World Heritage, and the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve and the Cacique Lempira, Senor de las Montanas Biospehre Reserve. The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve is a huge expanse of preserved land that is actually home to the largest tract of tropical rain forest in North America. The site is in a truly remote location and it is hard to get to it, however if you are truly interested in visiting a remote, pristine area, you should plan on an expedition to the area. La Moskitia Ecoaventuras is a local tour operator and outfitter, who operates expeditions to this remote area, the only Natural World Heritage sites in Honduras. You can learn more about their expeditions by visiting www.lamoskitia.hn. The region has several different ethnic communities living in its area, including, but not limited to Miskito Indians and Garifunas.

Speaking of the Garifunas, this unique culture was designated “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by Unesco in 2008. This designation is meant to protect and conserve the language, religion and dances of the Garifuna people, 90% of which live within Honduras. This is the only Intangible Cultural Heritage that includes Honduras to have been designated as such by the UNESCO. If you are interested in knowing more about this culture, the areas around the department of Atlantida, in Honduras are the easiest to access to, and provide the opportunity to meet and interact with this unique culture. In particular, the cities of La Ceiba and Tela are great locations to venture out to the different Garifuna Communities. The most original of which are the Village of Miami, located close to Tela, and the Village of Chachahute, located in the Cayos Cochinos, close to La Ceiba. For more information on the Garifuna check out www.garifuna.com. If you are interested in visiting these communities, contact Reservaciones Turisticas La Ceiba, a community owned nonprofit tour operator that specializes in community tourism. www.larecoturh.org/reservaciones-turisticas

A great option to enjoy the Garifuna culture is to spend some nights at La Villa de Soledad B&B, from where you can easily visit the many Garifuna communities both around Tela and La Ceiba as well as Cayos Cochinos as day tours. La Villa de Soledad Bed and Breakfast is a lovely boutique B&B that is conveniently close to Sambo Creek and Corozal, the two Garifuna Villages  within the municipality of La Ceiba, on the Caribbean Coast of Honduras.

The last of the three World Heritage Sites in Honduras is the recently declared Cacique Lempira, Senor de las Montanas Biosphere Reserve. Located in Western Honduras, this unique reserve is located around the highest peak in Honduras, Cerro de las Minas in the Celaque National Park. Here you will find pine and oak forests, tropical cloud forests and even so tropical rain forest habitats. You will be charmed by the small, colonial rural communities that live around the park, that offer a window into rural life in Honduras, which remains pretty much unchanged for the last couple of centuries. The best way to explore this new biosphere reserve is to visit the colonial city of Gracias, where you will find several hotels, as well as variety of tour operators that will be happy to arrange your trip into the biosphere reserve!

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