With an area of 4,151 acres (1,680 hectares) the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. It has more than 1,200 species of tropical plants from four continents, all labeled and divided according to their principal characteristics: ornamental, medicinal, fruit-bearing, timber, and poisonous. (Lancetilla is a species of spiny palm tree that is endemic to the area).
The Lancetilla Botanical Gardens was established in 1924 by tropical botanist Wilson Popenoe. He was hired by the United Fruit Company (an American company formerly with vast banana holdings in Central America) to research diseases of the banana. Popenoe's wife Dorothy, also a botanist, helped establish the botanical gardens, but ironically she died after eating the poisonous fruit of one of the trees.
In 1974, the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens was turned over to the Honduran government. Nowadays, it is a popular tourist destination as well as a research center.
At 414 square miles (1,073 square kilometers), Pico Bonito National Park is the second-largest national park in Honduras. It is dominated by the towering east-west Cordillera Nombre de Dios, which parallels the Caribbean coast. Its highest mountain, Pico Bonito, is the third-highest mountain in the country at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters).
Most of the area covered by the national park is unexplored due to its exceptionally rugged terrain and thick, impenetrable jungle. The lower elevations of the park consist of tropical rain forest and broadleaf forest. Above the 3,937-foot (1,200-meter) level, the habitat changes to cloud forest. There are many rivers in the park which cascade down the steep slopes, as well as several waterfalls. The untouched forests are home to many animals that are becoming rare elsewhere, such as jaguar, mountain lion, wild pigs, and several species of monkeys.
Visitors are not allowed to enter the vast majority of the national park. This is to ensure that the forests remain pristine and unaffected by human activity. There are only a few trails at the park's perimeter which lead to waterfalls that are open to the public.
Roatan, which is part of the Bay Islands, is located near the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. This exotic tropical island has everything one could wish for in paradise.
Roatan Island is located about 35 miles northeast of the north coast of Honduras. Roatan is 35 miles long and about 3 miles wide at its widest point.
Roatan is the largest of eight islands that are collectively known as Las Islas de la Bahia. These islands sit upon the Bonacca Ridge. The ridge is the result of an enormous crack that runs long the ocean floor. Lava welled up through this crack and formed the Caribbean plate, which buckled and created the Bonacca Ridge.
The Maya ruins of Copán are one of the major archeological sites in the world. Half of the ruins have been excavated. The rest remains covered in otherworldly hillocks which you can explore via a nature trail. Next to the ruins, you will find an exceptionally intelligent museum in which priceless stelae are sheltered from the elements around a modern recreation of a temple in its garishly colored original state.
The North coast is dotted with Garifuna villages, inhabited by an ethnic group of mixed ancestry, descendants of Caribs and Afro-Caribbeans. The Garifuna villages do not look or feel much like the rest of Honduras.
The North coast is also where you will find several major nature reserves. You can easily combine a visit to a natural site with a lunch and a swim in a Garifuna village.
The Celaque National Park is a large natural reserve which contains Honduras' highest peak, Celaque Mountain at 2827m. Although it is a world famous hiking destination, it is completely unspoiled. The welcome center is reached via a terrible unpaved road.
The park is a magnificent environment with some cloud forest in the highest parts. A five hour hike will give you a very fine impression of the place, but many visitors spend more than a day here.
The principal settlement on Guanaja is called Bonacca or Guanaja Town. Originally settled in the early 1800's by immigrants from the Cayman Islands, it's not even located on the main island and instead lies roughly one-half mile off the south side of the island occupying two small cays now completely built over with homes and businesses comprising roughly 18 kilometers of land where 3000 residents now live. This is the primary business center of the island and does have several hotels and restaurants, but no beaches or other outdoor recreational attractions. The remaining primary settlements (Sandy Bay, Savannah Bight, Mangrove Bight) are located on the main island. In addition to these areas of population there are several resorts on the island geared specifically toward scuba diving, fishing, and other eco-tourism oriented activities.
There are no streets/roads for automobiles on Guanaja and all transportation is by boat. Some trails exist around and over the mountains, but these are negotiated by mountain bike, horse or on foot.
The mountain peaks of the island are unoccupied, and have been designated National Forest by the government, which contains limitations designed to preserve them and restrict development.
All the waters surrounding Guanaja are contained in a designated marine reserve.
The Museum of National Identity is the newest museum in Tegucigalpa. It highlights all aspects of Honduran history from pre-Columbian civilizations to the present day. It is housed in the former Palace of Ministries, which was initially built as a hospital in 1880.
Exhibits feature artifacts from the pre-Columbian Mayan and Lencan civilizations, the colonial era (including many old Spanish maps and other documents), and modern Honduras. Some of the exhibits about the modern era contain information about former presidents, archeologists, and recent immigrants from Palestine.
In addition to artifacts, the Museum of National Identity has state-of-the-art video and virtual presentations. Some of the more impressive of these exhibits include Copán Virtual (a three-dimensional tour of Copán during its heyday), a video presentation of a Mayan ball game, and a screen in the shape of a globe that shows the formation of Central America as the continents shifted.
Los Dolores Church is just one of several colonial churches in the historic center of Tegucigalpa. Although it is not the largest or most important church in the city, it is perhaps the most beautiful. Los Dolores Church was built in 1732 on the Plaza de la Merced. At that time, the buildings surrounding the plaza housed the monks of the Mercedian order. In the nineteenth century, those same buildings became the home of the National University of Honduras.
The façade of Los Dolores Church contains figures representing the Passion of Christ. And there is an inscription on the doorway indicating that the church was built by the mulattos and blacks of Tegucigalpa, many of whom became rich from the mining of silver. Many of the glazed angels that decorate the church have black features.
Nowadays, Los Dolores Church is a tourist attraction for those who appreciate colonial architecture and religious works of art. It is illuminated at night with unearthly purple spotlights.
The Museum of Archeology and History houses an impressive collection of hundreds of artifacts and antiques relating to the history of the Sula Valley, in which San Pedro Sula is located. The exhibits date from the pre-Columbian era to the present day. The upper floor of the museum focuses on the prehistory of the Sula Valley. The exhibits are well-displayed and described, with signs in both Spanish and English. Books in both languages which explain the artifacts in more detail are also available.
The museum is licensed by the Honduran Institute of Anthropolgy and History to house the collection of archeological and historical artifacts, which belong to the people of Honduras by law.
Tela is a sleepy, almost seedy beach town which was once a hub for the United Fruit Company. It is a great place to soak up some Caribbean atmosphere and gorge yourself on fine seafood - while reflecting on the loaded history from the banana days.
Most of the tourists there are Hondurans, although there are grand plans to make Tela a cruise-ship destination. It might be a good idea to visit Tela before such plans come to fruition.
Santa Rosa de Copán is a pleasant town, well-known as a cigar manufacturing center. It is larger and more "polished" than Gracias, but there is not all that much to do there. The architecture is very attractive, and the climate is relatively mild.
If you are in this area, Santa Rosa de Copán is definitely worth a day or two.
Gracias, in the Lempira province, is acquiring a reputation as an offbeat tourist destination. It is a wonderful base from which to visit smaller colonial villages, and the Celaque National Park.
In spite of what you may read or find out on line, Gracias' tourism resources are still in the larval stage. All the storefronts which - twenty years from now - may be tour agencies and internet cafés, today are still animal feed outlets and hardware stores.
This makes a visit to Gracias not the most practical experience, but an unspoiled one to be treasured.
The Bay Islands of Honduras offer a very different world from that of mainland Honduras. The island has a very a unique heritage. In the islands history there were many disagreements between the Spaniards and the British. However during colonial times the British controlled the islands most of time and even today there are many British here as well as Americans and a few Europeans.
Christopher Columbus is reputed to have landed here on his fourth and last voyage to the "Indies" and actually encountered canoes with Paya Indians. He also mentioned the excellent quality of the fresh water that he found on the Island, saying "he had never tasted sweeter water of better quality"
Saint Michael the Archangel Cathedral is the largest and most important church in downtown Tegucigalpa. (The Basilica de Suyapa is actually larger and more important to the country's Roman Catholics, but it is located in the suburbs of Tegucigapla). The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of Tegucigalpa. Constructed between 1765 and 1782 in the colonial style of architecture, it boasts two towers and a large dome. Its most notable feature, however, is its intricate gold and silver Baroque altarpiece.
During Holy Week, the cathedral hosts the ceremony of the Descent from the Cross, a colorful procession that is but one of many that take place in the city around Easter.
3 kms anParque Arqueologicotes del, Copan, 504, Honduras
Good for: Couples
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