Honduras

Five things to do at Lago de Yojoa

Five things to do at Lago de Yojoa

You could probably spend weeks here without running out of activities, but if you need to prioritize, here are my favorite things to do at Lago de Yojoa.

Go kayaking on the lake

We got a double kayak with transportation included from our accommodation, but there are lots of places to rent kayaks around the lake. I’d definitely recommend going in the morning, before it gets too hot and the sun will fry you up. We started at 9, and paddled around the lake for three hours.

Kayaking on Lago de Yojoa, Honduras.

We were dropped by the canal leading down to the lake and paddled on for a bit before it opened up. It was so tranquil and nice! Lots of birds that I don’t know the names of just gliding above the surface, and no other person as far as we could see. The weather was lovely and we stopped to swim from the kayak several times.

We did get horribly sunburned though, so make sure to reapply your sunscreen properly after swimming! I missed some spots and everyone could tell afterwards. The kayaking is only as strenuous as you want it to be, so you can pretty much just float around once you get to the lake. No previous kayaking experience needed, don’t worry!

Visit the archeological site Los Naranjos

For a Central American archeological sight, this must be one of the least impressive I’ve been to. Sure, they do have some ruins and they do have a small museum with the usual clay pots and stone carvings, but that hardly made it worth paying the 6 USD entrance fee.

Archeological museum at Los Naranjos in Lago de Yojoa, Honduras

For me, this visit was all about the park itself. The ruins are located inside a large natural park, with well-maintained paths going through the lush forest. There were hardly any other people around, so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. I think it’s possible to spend hours just walking around it.

There’s also an area with boardwalks that go above the marshland, which we found really exciting. Unfortunately, during our visit, most of this was closed for maintenance. Not sure when or if it will open again. It was still possible to go out to a small clearing with a view over the lake.

The boardwalk at Los Naranjos archeological park, one of my favorite things to do at Lago de Yojoa, Honduras

When we got there, there was a local family having a picnic in there. Turns out the man worked for the park, so even though he was off duty, he told us a lot about the park and the ancient civilizations of the area.

Enter the Taulabé Caves

Getting to Taulabé Caves (Cuevas the Taulabé) required taking three buses from Los Naranjos, but hopping between buses is a breeze in Central America. Everyone was super helpful about where to change and where to wait. The cave entrance is just by the main road, so you’ll get dropped just outside. It’s also possible to get a driver if you’re several people, but then you miss the loud music and all the cowboys on the buses.

Normally, the caves are lit up by electric light, but when we came there was a power shortage and we were given flashlights. I think this is probably a very different experience compared to what it is like with the regular lights on, but I enjoyed it! The entrance fee was for foreigners was 4 USD.

Inside Taulabe Caves near Lago de Yojoa, Honduras

We were the only people visiting at the time, which was probably good, because it was quite scary. The trail into the cave goes on for a few hundred meters, and then you will turn around and walk the same way back. It still feels pretty deep, the air is damp and there are bats that will move when you hit them with the flashlight. Still, it was very enjoyable, and all the buses getting there was worth it.

Visit Pulhapanzak waterfall

We went to the Pulhapanzak waterfall immediately after the caves. This also required a bunch of buses and then a walk through the village, but it was still fast, and it was that kind of day. If you have a driver, I assume you can get both of these into a half day tour. I would really recommend the buses and walking and hanging out with the locals around here though, if you have the time.

Pulhapanzak Waterfall near Lago de Yojoa Honduras

Now, I’m well aware that every small town in the world has a waterfall that they promote and make tourists go to, but this one is actually worth the hike. It’s pretty big, and it has a viewing platform both above and below the drop. There’s also an area for swimming if you’re up for it, and some other activities on offer such as ziplining and a guided tour behind the falls.

My favorite thing was the iguanas that moved about the area, seemingly unbothered by the tourists. It seemed to me that mostly local tourists came there, and the whole thing was very low-key. There is an entrance fee of 70 lempiras, and you will obviously pay more for ziplining.

Try the local craft beer at D&D Brewery

We stayed at D&D Brewery, which is a bit of a backpacker hangout around these parts. They have different types of accommodation, ranging from dorms to stand-alone cabins in a lush forest area. This very hostel is a shuttle stop, which explains the backpacker vibe.

They also have a restaurant on site, and more importantly, it is a brewery, so you can taste a half dozen locally brewed beers. It was a strange feeling, arriving after hours and hours on chicken buses to a place in the middle of the forest, on the outskirts of a small village, and be served super hipster craft beer. Strange, but nice.

Honestly, I thought the place was just alright. I’d heard people raving about D&D for ages, some saying that staying there was the only thing he’d recommend about Honduras. Yet I wasn’t really comfortable there. The beer was great, the outing advice was great, the kayaking was great. The bed was really comfy. It just wasn’t very personal, I guess. I think it has been a smaller place before, so maybe it just needs some time to transition.

The village by D&D Brewery, Lago de Yojoa, Honduras

It’s still a good base for activities around the lake, but do make sure to spend your time outside of the hostel. The village is really nice, you can watch the kids play football, buy your lunch supplies in the small shops, and have your laundry done for a fraction of the price just down the road from the hostel.

How to get to and from Lago de Yojoa

We went from Copán to Lago de Yojoa with public transportation, and it was a breeze. Well, it wasn’t the most comfortable ride of my life, but the connections were very smooth and we were dropped just outside the hostel.

Riding the bus near Lago de Yojoa, Honduras

To make the same journey, take the early morning bus from Copán to San Pedro Sula. Get there on time for the 7 o’clock, as we got to the bus stop about fifteen minutes before departure and scored the last seats. The journey to San Pedro Sula takes about three hours, and you will be dropped in the huge bus station. San Pedro is pretty much the murder capital of the world, but you will never have to exit the bus station when you transfer and the vibe in there is not weird at all. It’s just a regular bus station. We were going to the village of Los Naranjos, and so changed to the minibus going toward El Mochito. The total journey took around six hours and we paid just over 200 lempiras (8 USD). It was not comfortable, but not scary or unsafe at all.

There are also tourist shuttles passing Lago de Yojoa, going between the coast and Nicaragua, I think. If you’re not a chicken bus kind of person, there are also bigger buses going this route. Check with your hostel!

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Posted by The pathway there in Honduras, 0 comments
Why you should spend a few days in Copán Ruinas

Why you should spend a few days in Copán Ruinas

We arrived in Copán, Honduras, after a long day of travel from El Salvador, spending most of the day getting in and out of minibuses and crossing the border at El Poy and Nuevo Ocotepeque. We were dropped at the edge of town and walked through the center, looking for a place to stay for a few days. There’s not so much to see in Copán, and there are daytrips from Guatemala to see the ruins, but I think the town is worth a couple of days.

The center of Copan Ruinas Honduras

Where to stay in Copán

Copán Ruinas town is definitely on the tourist trail, and there are so many hotels and hostels to choose between. We stayed at the hostel Iguana Azul, in a private room with plenty of shared bathrooms and showers out back. We didn’t book ahead and were lucky to get their last available room, so I would definitely recommend making a reservation if you know in advance that you are going.

The hostel is run by the same people as the fancier Casa de Café next door, which looked fantastic with its garden and lovely restaurant. We had breakfast there in the mornings, which was a little bit pricey, but it was enough food to last us until dinner. The breakfast menu honestly was a struggle, so much eggs and bread and fruit.

Visiting Copán Ruinas and Las Sepulturas

I’ve always loved those places where people spend the night only to see the one same attraction, like Agra in India, or Aguas Calientes in Peru. Although the ruins in Copán are neither as impressive nor as well-visited as the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu, the town still had the same sort of vibe. Everyone had either been to the ruins, or were going there in the morning.

View over one temple in Copan Ruinas Honduras

We went our first morning, which is recommended as the temperatures can get quite high in the day. If you arrive when they open around 8 am, you’ll also see the macaws near the entrance being fed. The entrance fee is 15 USD, which is quite a lot of money in Honduras, but also includes the lesser visited but highly recommended site Las Sepulturas nearby.

The main site is located about 1-2 kilometers outside of town, and there’s a really nice walking path going there. There are also plenty of mototaxis willing to take you there if you don’t want to walk. To get to Las Sepulturas, just continue down the same road a bit further and you’ll see it.

View from a temple at Copan Ruinas Honduras

The main site at Copán Ruinas is a quite large area, with plenty of temples and statues. It’s definitely more impressive than the site Tazuamal that I’d visited in El Salvador, but not as big as Palenque or Tikal. There are so many sculptures and carvings, which I really liked about this site.

We strolled and climbed around the ruins for a few hours, reading about all of them in our guidebook. Some people had guides, but we weren’t super interested in the details, we mostly wanted to see everything. The area wasn’t very crowded, at times it was even possible to take pictures with no people in them.

Horses by the road on the way to Las Sepulturas Copan Ruinas Honduras

After we were done with the main site, we continued walking to Las Sepulturas. I would highly recommend visiting this site as well unless you’re really stressed to leave town. There were no other people there, only one young man who was trying to do that trick of starting to walk next to you dropping pieces of info until you realize that you have a guide and will now have to pay. We kindly informed him that we didn’t need a guide and he took off immediately, leaving us to explore the site on our own. These ruins are smaller and more overgrown, but much less polished up for tourists.

Visiting Macaw Mountain, the bird park

On the following day, our main activity was a visit to the bird park Macaw Mountain. The macaw is the national bird of Honduras, and this park is a sanctuary where rescued or injured birds are rehabilitated before being released into the wild if at all possible.

Bird at Macaw mountain parque de aves in Copan Ruinas Honduras

The entrance fee of 10 USD goes toward the care for the birds and includes a guide. We had heard it was possible to swim at the park, but we didn’t see a place for that when we were there. Perhaps it was temporarily closed.

mountain parque de aves

The park itself was really lovely, and there are walking paths through the forest where you can walk around looking at the birds. It’s really relaxing, not noisy and busy like some other bird parks. There’s a small restaurants and gift shop on site if you need it. We took a mototaxi from town for 20 lempiras per person and walked back. It’s not far, maybe 2 kilometers or just over, so you could definitely walk both ways if you want to.

Where to eat in Copán

I’ve already recommended Casa de Café, which was an absolutely amazing place, and very vegetarian friendly. It’s a little bit pricey, but still excellent value for money.

Another place we went to was the gringo restaurant at the hostel Vía Vía. There were a lot of street dogs in the restaurant, which we thought was awesome but I can see how not everyone would agree. After roughing it for a while in El Salvador, we really appreciated some burgers and beers.

Our last night in Copán, we went to Jim’s Pizza, a place that came highly recommended, run by an American who’s lived in Honduras for a  long time. The place is nothing fancy, but the pizza was excellent and the service friendly, and they will also show sports games when something’s on.

Taxis waiting at the parque central in Copan Ruinas Honduras

Getting to and away from Copán

We came from El Salvador, traveling for most of the day to get to Copán. It was still easy enough, but if you want to break the journey we heard good things about Santa Rosa de Copán. Leaving Copán, we were going to Lago de Yojoa. The first step of that journey was to take a bus to the infamous San Pedro Sula, which left in the morning from the edge of town. We took the bus at 7, which I think was the last direct service, and when we got there fifteen minutes before departure we got the last seats. This is not recommended, as I ended up sitting in the front with my back to the window and zero legroom, so I’d say definitely get there a half hour before departure.

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Posted by The pathway there in Honduras, 0 comments
El Salvador to Copán Ruinas without passing through Guatemala

El Salvador to Copán Ruinas without passing through Guatemala

When I was in Santa Ana, it seemed like most people were headed straight to Copán Ruinas in Honduras through Guatemala, some on chicken buses and some on shuttles. I really wanted to spend some time in the little colonial town of Suchitoto on the way, so I figured I might as well go from El Salvador to Copán Ruinas by the El Poy-Ocotepeque border crossing and make it one of those days mostly spent getting on and off buses.

If you’re don’t want to pass two border crossings in a day, look no further. If you’re starting from San Salvador, take the bus #119 directly toward the border at El Poy (Frontera El Poy) from Terminal de Oriente and skip the first step.

Step 1: Suchitoto to Aguilares

It seemed like everyone in town knew the exact interval between buses (40 minutes), but no one could say at what time one would leave. The bus number is 163, and it leaves from near the corner of the main square in Suchitoto where the tourist information is, as always in El Salvador you can just ask somebody and they’ll be happy to tell you exactly where to wait. We were lucky and the bus pulled up just as we got there, and the ride took about a half hour down to the main road from San Salvador. The bus pulls into a market on the other side of the main road, but tell the attendant that you’re going to the border (la frontera) and they’ll let you off at the main road.

Step 2: Aguilares to El Poy

The attendant pointed us toward a gas station about a hundred meters south of the crossroads, so we set out walking in that direction. A bus was waiting when we got there, number 119 from San Salvador to the border. The trip takes around two hours.

If you don’t want to make this trip in one day, or take a lunch break somewhere, you can make a stop in La Palma, a small town famous for its colorful murals. You can really see most of it in about an hour, so there’s no need to stay the night unless it’s getting late. If you do end up staying, I’d recommend Hotel La Palma, that has indoor murals in the rooms.

Colorful mural on a building in La Palma, El Salvador

Step 3: Crossing the border

This border crossing is really quiet, at least when we passed, and it was hard to tell where to go as there were no other travelers crossing. We stopped to ask several people on the way before we found an abandoned kiosk with an official in training who looked through all of the pages in our passports and chatting about the stamps to make time pass quicker, before he stamped us out of El Salvador. Another short walk and another kiosk later, we were in Honduras.

Cowboys in the minivan from Ocotepeque border to Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

Step 4 and 5: Ocotepeque to La Entrada to Copán Ruinas

On the Honduran side of the border a minibus was waiting, the driver saying it was going all the way to San Pedro Sula. We were traded off to another minibus in Santa Rosa de Copán, and then dropped by the road at La Entrada, where the main roads meet. Another minibus going to Copán Ruinas was already waiting, and we got onto that. So many buses, but zero waiting time between them, and a total of about five hours travel time from the border.

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Posted by The pathway there in El Salvador, Honduras, 0 comments