If you’re in the mood for an exhilarating encounter with nature, Pico Bonito is the place for you. The majestic backdrop to the quaint coastal town of La Ceiba, Pico Bonito is one of Honduras’ most popular national parks—and the country’s second largest. Due to a dramatic change in elevation (starting at 60 meters above sea level and abruptly rising to 2,480 meters) you’ll find everything from tropical rain forest to high-elevation cloud forest; rivers to waterfalls to the Caribbean Sea; and dense mountainous terrain to sparse lowland dry forest. This wild array of habitats means you can experience numerous activities and wildlife encounters in just one national park. Here are a few of the highlights:
Hike to the Zacate Waterfall
Not only is the Zacate Waterfall one of the most easily accessible waterfalls of the National Park, it’s also one of the most picturesque. A serene cascade of crystal-clear water plummets from a verdant peak to form a cool and tranquil pool beneath. The hike to and from the waterfall takes around 4 hours, not including the hours you could spend swimming in what seems like paradise. Keep your eyes peeled for Blue Morpho Butterflies—they love the misty refuge, too.
Explore Rio Cangrejal
Don’t miss the vertigo-inducing suspension bridge that rises high above the raging Rio Cangrejal. If you prefer to get up-close-and-personal with the rapids, this is also one of the best rivers for white water rafting in all of Central America. The adventure will take you along Class III-V rapids and through picturesque jungle scenery.
With over 7 ecosystems and 270,000 acres of unexplored rainforest, it’s hardly any wonder that countless species of birds and animals call Pico Bonito home. Just a few of the species you can find include: toucans, capuchins, jaguars, river otters, tapirs and pumas. While some of these animals are certainly more elusive than others, the park’s dry forest habitat does make wildlife spotting easier due to sparse foliage.
Cuero y Salado Wildlife and Manatee Refuge
It might not be in the national park, but it’s not far from it either—and it certainly warrants a visit. The Manatee Refuge is a haven for the endangered West Indian Manatee. Most visits to the Manatee Refuge include a jeep and boat ride through the estuary, meaning that even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the mysterious manatee, you might see birds, monkeys, sloths, alligators and more.
Getting to Pico Bonito National Park
Entrance into the park is $7.00 US for adults and $4.00 US for children.
There are two entrances to the park: El Pino Village and the visitor center at Rio Cangrejal.
It’s possible to arrange tours and guides in the town of La Ceiba, which is recommended for ultimate wildlife viewing potential. Honduras is also quite inexpensive, so typically hiring a guide is an affordable way to enhance your travels while also supporting the local economy.
You can learn more about the history of the Pico Bonito National Park at Honduras.com
Have you been to Pico Bonito? What other activities would you recommend?