White Water Rafting in Atlantida: one of the truly unique activities to enjoy in Central America!
Nestled between the Caribbean Sea, and the rugged Nombre de Dios Mountains, you will find the department of Atlantida, one of the 18 departments that Honduras is divided into. Atlantida offers a magnificent territory that is abundant in nature; it actually has a total of 7 protected areas that are legally declared and part of the Honduras National Park system within its territory.
The largest of these areas in Atlantida is Pico Bonito National Park, which is separated from its neighbor, Nombre de Dios National Park by the beautiful and mighty Cangrejal River. The river, which is born in the high, jungle clad mountains of Atlantida and Yoro descends rapidly towards the Caribbean, in one of the steepest runs you will find in Central America. It drops from an altitude of 250 plus meters to sea level in only 30 kilometers, forming small falls, drops and lovely natural pools, creating a technical run that offers class III and IV, and even an occasional class V rapid.
Here, in the heart of Central America, where Central America meets the Caribbean, you will find the best white water rafting in Central America: yes white water rafting in Atlantida is truly World Class! Best of all, is the temperature of the water in the Cangrejal River. A far cry from the normally frigid waters where good rafting can be found, water in the Cangrejal River is delightfully pleasant, which makes white water rafting in Atlantida one of the preferred activities to be enjoyed in all of Honduras. Its close proximity to the Bay Islands of Honduras means that travelers enjoying their vacations on these lovely Caribbean Islands can easily do a day visit to the mainland for a white water rafting experience.
Many, though, prefer to spend a few nights in the area, to enjoy all of the adventure and nature activities available here. Most of those that do choose to stay within the Cangrejal River Valley, where there are several different lodges to choose from, including the award winning La Villa de Soledad B&B.
You can choose between several different rafting outfitters that operate in the Cangrejal River Valley. Most of their guides are licensed river guides by the International Rafting Federation. White water rafting in Atlantida is an absolutely great activity that you should not pass on!
Most travelers that come through La Ceiba do so on the way to the Bay Islands of Roatan or Utila. Because of this, very few of them actually overnight in La Ceiba. They are in such a hurry to get to the Honduras’ famous Caribbean Islands that they never figure out what they are missing out by not staying overnight in La Ceiba and explore the surroundings.
Without doubt, the nicest and most versatile area within La Ceiba is the Cangrejal River Valley. This area is only 10 km. (6 Miles) from town and offers great lodging, outstanding eco and adventure activities and friendly bars and restaurants where you will meet other travelers who will gladly share their travel experiences with you.
You see, the first thing you will learn if you do decide to overnight in La Ceiba in the Cangrejal River Valley, is that you will need at least two, probably three nights to take full advantage of all there is to do there. Most of all, you will be happy that you did decide to overnight in La Ceiba, because a stay at the Cangrejal River Valley will easily turn into one of the highlights of your visit to Central America.
I have yet to meet a traveler who was disappointed by the beauty, charm and diversity available within the area. I have, however met many a traveler who was sorry they did not plan on a longer stay in the Cangrejal River Valley, so make sure you leave some time to enjoy the area!
Amongst the different activities available are white water rafting, zipline canopy tours, hiking in the tropical jungles, horseback riding, mountain biking, and some truly spectacular bird watching. You will find the crystal clear and temperate waters of the Cangrejal River too tempting to resist and have the time of your life swimming in the natural water pools within the river.
Best of all are the variety of lodges available. La Villa de Soledad B&B is one of the most popular and truly beautiful lodges in the area. Come and stay with us and find out why we get raving reviews from our clients!
One of my favorite trails in Pico Bonito is called the El Mapache Trail. Its name, which means the raccoon trail, has more to do with a person that with a raccoon. You see, one of founding fathers of this park, Gerardo Rodriguez, passed away tragically in a car accident during a work trip to Olanchito, on the backside of Pico Bonito. Gerardo was nicknamed “El Mapache” and in his honor, it was quickly agreed that the trail should be named after him, and that it was more than appropriate that it be named after his nickname.
The El Mapache trail is located in the Cangrejal River area, and access is easy through the Pico Bonito National Park Visitors’s Center, located at km 8.8 of the La Ceiba to Yaruca dirt road. Once having registered and paid your entrance fee to the park, it is time to cross high over the Cangrejal River in a magnificent 400 foot long suspension bridge, much like those that you see in the Indiana Jones movies. The trail leads through a moderate to steep trail towards the magnificent “El Bejuco” waterfall, which falls over 200 feet down a cliff on its hurried way towards the Cangrejal River. The El Mapache Trail is open daily from 8:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. You certainly do not want to be in the trail after that time, because in Honduras, it gets dark quite early, and in the winter months, it will be pitch black before 6:00 p.m. You can, on the other hand, pre arrange to visit the El Mapache Trail earlier in the morning. This is easy if you are staying at one of the hotels in Cangrejal River Valley area, such as La Villa de Soledad B&B, which has won several awards from tripadvisor due to the outstanding reviews from their guests.
Tips about Pico Bonito National Park: How to get there & what to expect.
One of the best known National Parks in Honduras, Pico Bonito is a true gem that many travelers miss out on. It is incredible that many tourists pass right by this national park and totally miss out on all it has to offer. In an effort to make it easier for you we have decided to put together a small note on Pico Bonito National Park: How to get there & what to expect. I truly hope that you find it useful and decide to visit this magnificent National Park, the largest in Atlantida and one of the largest in Honduras.
So let’s start with the how to get there! Pico Bonito is located on mainland Honduras, and is separated from the Caribbean Sea by a narrow coastal plain. The park is part of the Nombre de Dios Mountain Range that can easily be seen from Utila, and also from Roatan’s West End on a clear day. If you are on your way to the Bay Islands of Honduras, chances are that you will be traveling overland to the City of La Ceiba, located on the North Coast of Honduras. This is the gateway to the Bay Islands of Honduras, as the ferry service that operates between the mainland and the Bay Islands does so from La Ceiba.
If you flew in directly to Roatan, then the easiest way to get to Pico Bonito National Park is using the Roatan ferry, which has two daily departures. The passage between Roatan and La Ceiba is just under two hours. Another alternative is to fly, it is a short 15 minute flight, and there are several different airlines that provide service on this route. Personally, I prefer the ferry; it always departs on schedule and is much more reliable!
Once in La Ceiba, you have several options to get to Pico Bonito: The first is to go the community of El Pino, located about 15 miles west of La Ceiba and visit or stay at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, the premier luxury eco lodge in Honduras. IF you prefer something closer and more affordable, the you should certainly plan on visiting the Cangrejal River Valley. This area actually has a total of 10 small hotels and lodges, a myriad of activities, both for the active adventurer as well as for the relaxed naturalists that wants to enjoy some serious bird watching or simply sit back and relax in nature.
You will find some award winning properties within the Cangrejal River Valley that you will certainly enjoy, including the beautiful La Villa de Soledad, a unique boutique bed and breakfast that offers the perfect setting to relax in nature, or to set out on a seriously active adventure.
I hope you have a clear idea of Pico Bonito National Park: how to get there & what to expect! Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for questions concerning Pico Bonito National Park and the Cangrejal River Valley.
Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad, a perfect match?
After years of exploring Honduras, in search for new unique experiences for the traveler in this part of the World, I am still astonished by what I find! I was exploring the Los Micos Lagoon this weekend when I came across Los Olingos, located deep in the shores of this large lagoon. My immediate thoughts were that these two unique resorts were a perfect match! When trying to come up with the way to describe how Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad can complement each other, I recalled the old song that Frank Sinatra used to sing: love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage…. Truly, Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad go together beautifully, and offer the perfect combination of an eco adventure or an eco relaxed trip to Atlantida, “Central Americas’ Caribbean Heart”.
Getting to Los Olingos is an experience in itself: First you must get to the Garifuna village of Miami, located in the Bay of Tela, on a narrow sandbar between Los Micos Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. This is the most authentic Garifuna Village on mainland Central America, and is itself, worth a visit to get more acquainted with the Garifuna culture, which has been awarded the status of Intangible Human Heritage by the UNESCO! At the entrance to Miami, I came across a nice dock next to a shaded deck, where I was greeted by the friendly staff of Los Olingos, who after introcing themselves, led us to our boat to commence the last part of the journey to Los Olingos, a 20 minute boat ride through mangrove canals and across the huge Los Micos Lagoon.
At Los Olingos we were greeted by friendly staff who immediately offered us a glass of chilled coconut water, that had just been taken from their plentiful coconut plantation. Truly a delightful welcome. The complex consists of several historical wooden homes that were built a century ago a were part of the executive residences for the Tela Railroad Company management. The homes where purchased in Tela, and then carefully taken apart and rebuilt, completely refurbished, in their current location. Extensive porches, fine wooden details and lots of cross ventilation, you will feel like transported to time when life was much more relaxed and when nature still surrounded the communities in the world.
Los Olingos gets its name from the howler monkeys that inhabit in the adjacent forests to the property. These loud critters emit intimidating sounds, but are actually harmless and stay away from humans. For a trip to Los Olingos you should plan on at least 3 nights, to enjoy visiting Miami and Punta Sal, exploring the mangrove forests and canals, do some bird-watching or get to know the adjacent community of Agua Blanca and its friendly people. You can also of course simply relax in a hammock and enjoy the cool breeze blowing across the lagoon…
Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad are the perfect match, they both offer a relaxing setting, but in very different environments. They are located about 2 hours away from each-other, and while at the first you will enjoy the mangrove forests, in the second you can enjoy hiking in the rain-forests of Pico Bonito National Park. In Los Olingos you will enjoy some leisurely paddling through mangrove canals and at La Villa de Soledad you will have the opportunity to experience the best white water in Honduras, possibly in Central America and the Caribbean. The sounds of nature are magnificent at both Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad, but they are very different between each other! For the perfect nature and adventure vacation in Atlantida, plan on a week, and spend three nights each at Los Olingos and La Villa de Soledad, located on the Cangrejal River Valley.
A long time dream has come true for the three white water outfitters that provide white water rafting services in the Cangrejal River: Their local guides have finally received all the necessary courses and have passed the different exams with flying colors. The result: The International Rafting Federation issues guide certification cards to Cangrejal River guides!
This milestone has been achieved thanks to the effort of the Chamber of Tourism of La Ceiba and funding from the IDB bank who is promoting a sustainable tourism destination in Atlantida. After several different courses, including first aid and swift water rescue, the International Rafting Federation sent a group of Costa Rican instructors who found that the Cangrejal River was a truly astonishing place offering world class white water rafting.
This milestone that is achieved when the International Rafting Federation issues guide certification cards to the Cangrejal River guides, insures that the quality of the service provided by the three different tour operators that offer rafting service is now up to par with international standards.
The Cangrejal River offers a unique setting with crystal clear water flowing down the magnificent Nombre de Dios Mountains, home to both Pico Bonito National Park and Nombre de Dios National Park. The river, which is loitered with huge, house sized boulders, offers a fun, technical class III + rapids in the regular commercial run. It’s easy access, only 45 minutes from downtown or the Bay Islands ferry terminal in La Ceiba makes it a must do trip for those that seek some adventure in a pristine nature environment.
There are several truly unique lodges and inns in the Cangrejal River area. Most outstanding is the award winning La Villa de Soledad B&B, who has been awarded both the Travelers Choice and the Certificate of Excellence awards by tripadvisor for both 2014 and 2015.
Come and stay in paradise and enjoy the best white water rafting in Honduras and possibly in Central America!
Planning your trip to the Bay Islands? Here are some things you need to know before going to Roatan:
Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands, is by far the most visited of the Bay Islands in Honduras. It is also the largest of the islands and the most populated. Roughly 60,000 souls live and work on the island, however rather than one large city; there are actually several different towns and villages throughout the island. Your experience on Roatan will depend on where you stay, because each of the towns on the island has their own, unique feeling to them. That being said, and if my advice is of any good, generally stay away from staying in Coxen Hole and French Harbour, these two are the largest towns, this is where the working people live, and they are definitely not touristy or for that matter, pretty. You might need to go to them to go to the bank, purchase groceries, or even to eat at a nice restaurant, but other than that, there is really no reason to go there.
The most pleasant, charming area is by far West End. This small beach side community offers many small hotels and inns, many restaurants and bars, and is where you will find most of the tourists. Nearby, in West Bay Beach, you will find several larger hotels located on what many consider the best beach in Central America. Many of these hotels are larger, all inclusive operations, however if you look around, you can find a jewel or two hidden between the larger resorts and right on the beach. One of these jewels is the Bananarama Resort.
Another area that offers different options is Sandy Bay. Properties here are more spread out, and you need to walk along the beach to get from one to the other. Although there are not so many restaurants and bars available, the setting is indeed more intimate and quiet. The East End of Roatan is generally speaking much less developed. With the exception a few resorts, such as the Parrot Tree Plantation, the Media Luna Resort and the Turquoise Bay Resort, that are isolated, free standing resorts and kind of far from the rest of the island; you will find fewer hotels and tourist services on this part of the island. However you will also find some really nice and picturesque towns, such as Calabash Bight, Jonesville and Oakridge, just to mention a few.
If you are interested in finding that beautiful, isolated Caribbean Beach, then one of the things to know before going to Roatan is that far out on the East End you will find some truly spectacular beaches and settings. The Paya Bay Resort offers two lovely beaches, one of them actually private to the property, and a bit farther down the road towards Camp Bay you will find the Playa Barbosa as well as Camp Bay Beach, truly unique white sand beaches that are away from the crowds you will find on West Bay Beach.
The Bay Islanders generally consider themselves as direct descendents of the original British colonizers that came to the islands at the end of the seventeen hundreds and beginning of the eighteen hundreds. Names such as Jackson, Hynds, Wood, Bush, Bodden, Tatum, McNab are still very common in Roatan. As a general rule, islanders refer to those who live in Honduras as “them Spaniards” basically because the mainland was conquered by the Spaniards and Spanish is spoken throughout Central America. There tends to be an animosity from the Islanders to “them Spaniards” and they all like to promote the mainland as very dangerous and unsafe to visit. This is not a fact or a reality, but rather an attempt to keep you on the island so that you do not discover the beauty of the mainland. Believe me, this is one of the most important tips about the things to know before going to Roatan! Mainland Honduras is a short 1 ½ hour ferry trip, and there are so many absolutely beautiful places just across the channel from Roatan, that not visiting them is a true shame!
Take for example the Cangrejal River Valley: a truly unique valley located only ½ hour from the ferry terminal! Here you can enjoy a dense tropical rain forest, where two different National Parks meet: Nombre de Dios National Park and Pico Bonito National Park. The Cangrejal River, with crystal clear waters offers the best white water rafting in Honduras, and for that matter, all of the Caribbean and even possibly Central America.
Best of all you can find a variety of small inns, lodges and boutique bed and breakfasts located within the Cangrejal River Valley. A true, unique setting to complement your stay at the lovely island of Roatan. These lodges can all arrange for pick up at the ferry or airport to have you transferred to their properties. Staff at all of them are bilingual, and you will find that they will be more than happy to help you set up a variety of activities that are all within walking distance from your bedroom. Do yourself a favor, and include a couple of nights in the Cangrejal River Valley when planning your Roatan vacation!
Are you looking for the ideal destination for active tourism in Central America?
There is a lovely, up and coming destination in Central America that offers many different options for the active tourist looking for unique experiences. A destination that offers a variety of adrenalin pumping experiences, such as white water rafting, canyoning and rappelling down tropical waterfalls hidden behind dense rainforests protected within national parks. Where hiking and horseback riding offer faraway places with picturesque small communities nestled in the mountains of Nombre de Dios Range. Tropical beaches inhabited by the Garifuna people, whose ancestral customs have been declared intangible cultural World heritage by UNESCO. A destination where you can snorkel and dive in the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean and relax in white sand beaches while you listen to the drums beating under the rhythmic hands of the Garifuna people…
This destination, which seems like a dream come true, actually exists: Atlantida, the heart of Central America’s Caribbean is located in Honduras, and is the gateway to the World famous Bay Islands of Honduras: Roatan, Utila and Guanaja.
Reizen Magazine from the Netherlands recently published an article titled “Coast to Coast” written by photographer Fritz Meyst. The article includes information on three Central American countries: Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In it, Meyst refers to La Ceiba as the perfect destination for active tourism in Central America.
One of the highlights of La Ceiba in Atlantida is the Cangrejal River Valley, a unique location with incredible scenery, magnificent tropical rainforests and many small businesses that offer the best of Honduran hospitality to the adventure tourist looking for active tourism in Central America. Although only 8 km from downtown La Ceiba, and 12 km from the ferry terminal to the Bay Islands, the Cangrejal River Valley offers the perfect setting for a great active tourism in Central America vacation.
Come and visit the Cangrejal River Valley, and stay at the award winning La Villa de Soledad B&B. Book your room now and enjoy the best active tourism in Central America while staying with us!
Are you planning a trip to Atlantida and wondering which are the things to do in Pico Bonito National Park?
Pico Bonito is one of the main icons of Atlantida, where the Caribbean meets the Central America. There are many things to do in Pico Bonito National Park, and all of them are easily accessible from both main tourist hubs in Atlantida, Tela and La Ceiba.
Although there are several official entrances to Pico Bonito National Park, there is no doubt that the area with most options and things to do in Pico Bonito National Park is the Cangrejal River Valley, the crown jewel of Atlantida and one of the most unique areas in Central America.
The Cangrejal River Valley, which is the eastern border of Pico Bonito National Park offers easy access from La Ceiba, since it is only 10 km. or 6 miles from downtown La Ceiba. The Pico Bonito visitor’s center located at km 8.5 of the La Ceiba to Yaruca road has a magnificent, Indiana Jones style hanging bridge that spans over 400 feet high above the Cangrejal River, providing access to a network of trails into the park. The most popular trail here is El Mapache trail, that leads to El Bejuco Waterfall, a stunning 300 foot waterfall that plunges down towards the Cangrejal River. The trail takes between 3 and 5 hours round trip, depending on how fast you are hiking. Access to the park is only $8.00 US dollars per person, and nature guides can be hired for about $25. US, although you can also purchase a tour through one of the local tour operators in the Cangrejal River Valley. http://cangrejalriver.com/honduras/activities
One of the most popular things to in Pico Bonito National Park is white water rafting. The Cangrejal River offers some of the best white water rafting in Central America, and there are three different outfitters that proved services. All of them have certified guides and the experience of rafting down the Cangrejal River, with the lush Pico Bonito National Park on the left and the equally lush Nombre de Dios National Park on the right side of the river! If you are a white water kayaker, you can arrange for a kayaking tour down the Cangrejal River. Although the regular commercial run begins at the Village of El Naranjo, and provides a category II & III white water experience, the section between the Village of El Pital and Las Mangas provides a more technical category III and IV run and can be arranged if you have proven yourself in the first run!
Another one of the popular things to do in Pico Bonito National Park is the zip line canopy tour. The tour is available through Jungle River Tours and is located at Km. 8 of the La Ceiba to Yaruca road. This activity zips you across the Cangrejal River to a trail, where you will briefly hike up the hillside to the starting point of the tour. Here a total of 9 cables will bring you flying over the treetops back to your starting point, once again crossing over the Cangrejal River. The tour takes about 1 ½ hours and is a lot of fun.
With so many things to do in Pico Bonito National Park within the Cangrejal River area, you are probably wondering if you should try to find a spot where to spend the night within the area. The answer is of course you should!
There are several different options, but without doubt, the nicest of all is La Villa de Soledad B&B, an award winning boutique bed and breakfast that is located within walking distance of all of the above activities. Featuring 4 lovely rooms, each with a private bath and hot water, as well as direct access to the lovely outdoors, La Villa de Soledad offers the comfort of a home stay with the best of Honduran Hospitality, as well as great home cooking. The fully bilingual staff offers assistance that includes arranging tour activities, providing transfers and even giving you tips about other destinations within Honduras and Central America. Hosts John and Soledad will help arrange all the top things to do in Pico Bonito National Park!
Pico Bonito National Park is one of the largest national parks in Honduras. Located in the departments of Atlantida and Yoro, the park is in one of the most rugged terrains in Central America: the Nombre de Dios Mountains. These mountains run parallel to the Caribbean Sea, and rise vertically from sea level to over 8,000 feet above sea level, forming a seemingly impenetrable green fortress. The park takes its name from the iconic triangular shaped peak called Pico Bonito. The peak was not conquered until the 1960’s and even today few people have made it to the top of this iconic landmark in La Ceiba. An expedition to the peak and back takes between 5 and 7 days, and if you are really up to this experience, I suggest you contact La Moskitia Ecoaventuras (www.lamoskita.hn) to arrange the expedition for you.
Pico Bonito National Park borders are the Rio Santiaguito on the Western end of the Park and the Rio Cangrejal on the Eastern side of the Park, to the North the natural limit are the coastal flatlands between the sharp rise of the mountains and the sea, and to the south the general natural border is the Aguan Valley, a fertile valley that is located on the opposite side of the Nombre de Dios Mountains.
Because of is abrupt change in altitude, Pico Bonito National Park probably has the highest bio diversity in Central America, as it starts with a tropical rain forest on the northern lowlands that eventually turns into a tropical cloud forest in the upper elevations, then into a midget forest on the top, and the backside becomes a very dry tropical forest. The park is home to the majestic Jaguar, the largest feline in the Americas, as well as to other endangered species such as the wild pecari, the largest mammal in Central America.
Pico Bonito National Park is also home to some of the most beautiful tropical birds in the world! Keel billed toucans are an easy sight, and birds that are elusive, such as the lovely cotinga, an absolutely beautiful little blue bird are commonly seen in the area.
Fortunately, it is quite easy to find lodging in Pico Bonito National Park and surrounding areas. Perhaps the most accessible area to find lodging in Pico Bonito National Park is the Cangrejal River Valley (www.cangrejalriver.com) This area is located just outside the City of La Ceiba, and offers the best of two National Parks in Honduras: Pico Bonito National Park and Nombre de Dios National Park!
From the Cangrejal River Valley it is easy to enter Pico Bonito National Park. There is a Visitors Center located on Km 8.8 of the La Ceiba to Yaruca dirt road. Here, a 400 foot long swinging bridge will give you an “Indiana Jones like” adventure crossing high over the Cangrejal River and bringing you to a network of trails into Pico Bonito National Park.
Conveniently located only 200 meters from the Visitors Center, you will find La Villa de Soledad B&B, a lovely and unique boutique bed and breakfast that offers you both, the opportunity to explore Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios National Parks, as well as a place to simply relax and enjoy nature and catch up with yourself. La Villa de Soledad is a family run eco lodge style property, with comfortable spacious rooms that open up to the great outdoors. Private bathrooms with hot water, and a covered porch that wraps around the Spanish colonial style building provides with many hammocks to relax and read your favorite book or to take a nap after one of the many activities that are available within the area. Best of all, the friendly Honduran hospitality together with the fantastic home cooked meals available on premises will make you not want to leave! La Villa de Soledad B & B is probably the best deal in town to enjoy Pico Bonito National Park. Furthermore, Soledad and John are fully bilingual and will go out of their way to help you arrange tours and activities.