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Signature Honduras: Jungle, islands and Mayan ruins

11 days from £2,343pp

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Signature Honduras: Jungle, islands and Mayan ruins:
Trip Dossier

This low-key, little visited country shelters some of the top highlights for visitors in the region and here you will get to see them all: the intricate carvings at one of the Mayan Empire’s best preserved archaeological sites, Copán; the much lauded Lodge and Spa at Pico Bonito, set in a wildly biodiverse jungle-filled national park, and the sun-baked island Roatán, which hosts some of the best dive sites in the world.   

A holiday to Honduras may not immediately spring to mind when you are considering travelling to Central America, even though it is the largest country there. The unassuming population of this relatively undeveloped country is friendly and welcoming (on this nature and culture-focused holiday you will be avoiding some of the trickier cites) and you’ll enjoy a country with a relaxed, unhurried feel, your experiences unbothered by the presence of hordes of tourists.  You’ll be delighted to have uncovered a niche destination, quietly upgrading its infrastructure and slowly revealing its charms.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive at San Pedro Sula, transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Transfer to Copán Ruinas.

Day 3

Guided tour of Copán ruins and museum.

Day 4

Guided visit to a coffee plantation.

Day 5

By road to Pico Bonito via Lancetilla National Park.

Day 6

Guided excursion to Cayos Cochinos.

Day 7

Day at leisure at Pico Bonito.

Day 8

Transfer to la Ceiba port for a ferry to Roatán Island.

Days 9-10

At leisure on the Caribbean island.

Day 11

Fly from Roatán to San Pedro to connect with your international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive at San Pedro Sula, transfer to hotel.
 
San Pedro Sula

You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to your accommodation for the night. San Pedro is not a very prepossessing city but your central, small and friendly hotel – Casa del Arbol Galerias - oozes character.  There is a modern gallery which showcases paintings by female artists from the city. There is a terrace which has a small bar and a swimming pool; you can access Wifi in the public areas.

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San Pedro Sula

Day 2

Transfer to Copán Ruinas.
 
Copan

Drive along the highway through Western Honduras, following the Chamelecon river valley. The countryside along the way is very scenic: forested mountains, livestock farms, tobacco plantations and, higher up, coffee farms.  Arrive at Copán Ruinas a quaint little colonial town just 12 km short of the Guatemalan border. Close by is one of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the region, Copán.

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Copan

Day 3

Guided tour of Copán ruins and museum.
 
Copan

It is not as immense as Tikal but the Mayans’ craftsmanship has survived the passing of time - most impressively evident in the intricate carvings of the 21 stelae. Copán is believed to have been in its 'golden era' between 553AD and 738AD, before falling into decline soon after. Also visit the Maya Sculpture Museum, which exhibits artwork of the Mayan site. Access is through an impression of a snake's mouth framing the entrance. Its centrepiece though is a replica of Rosalila Temple, which lies concealed under a larger pyramid at the site itself.

In the afternoon, choose between a visit to Hacienda San Lucas, which you will be able to explore a century-old rural retreat on horseback or on foot, and an excursion to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park where you can stroll through an aviary beneath the canopy of hardwood trees surprised by flights of scarlet macaws and parakeets. 

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Copan

Day 4

Guided visit to a coffee plantation.
 
Coffee Tour

Conventional, modern coffee plantations are replacing wildlife habitat, and the population of songbirds across North and South America is in significant decline. Shade-grown coffee, the traditional method of coffee farming, offers a promising alternative.

A short drive from Copán you arrive at Finca Santa Isabel where you are guided on a hike from the nursery where the coffee is planted into the mountains to where the plants grow under the shade of the trees.  You’ll observe how the coffee is harvested and processed. As shade coffee farms support over 150 species of birds, you will also have the opportunity to spot and identify different species as you walk along the trails.

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Coffee Tour

Day 5

By road to Pico Bonito via Lancetilla National Park.
 
lancetilla honduras

Set off by road to Pico Bonito, a first-class lodge set in coastal rainforest. En route, stop off at Lancetilla Botanical Gardens in the eponymous national park. It houses one of the largest collections of plantains in the world (Honduras is the original banana republic) and is well respected for its work in conserving Honduran plant species. There is an abundance of birdlife here since many of the trees are fruit-bearing, providing vital sustenance to over 250 identified species. Continue to Pico Bonito National Park and the world-famous Lodge and Spa. 

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lancetilla honduras

Day 6

Guided excursion to Cayos Cochinos.
 
Cayos Cochinos ( Hog Cayes)

Visit the unpopulated Cayos Cochinos (Hog Cays), reached in 45 minutes by boat from the port of La Ceiba. This exquisite archipelago and marine reserve comprises a collection of forested or palm-speckled coral islets ringed by chalk-white sand beaches and a reef alive with aquatic species.

Cruise among the islets, stopping at a Garifuna fishing community. The Garifuna are a mixed-race community descended from African slaves, indigenous islanders and Arawak Indians. They speak their own language and defend their own traditional way of life. Later, take a short walk along a forest trail. There’s plenty of time for sunbathing or snorkelling.

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Cayos Cochinos ( Hog Cayes)

Day 7

Day at leisure at Pico Bonito.
 
Honduran mountains

There are a number of activities which you can sign up for locally at the lodge, where the focus is on giving you the most varied eco-friendly experiences possible while you familiarise yourself with the bird-filled forest enveloping the property. They include early morning and night time hikes, white-water rafting, visits to local communities, guided tours of Mayan ruins and the botanical gardens. You can climb a couple of observation towers to view the wildlife which lives high in the canopy.

Alternatively – or additionally – you can avail yourself of the services of the lodge’s spa facilities, where pre-Hispanic healing methods have been adapted into soothing massages and facials. 

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Honduran mountains

Day 8

Transfer to la Ceiba port for a ferry to Roatán Island.
 
Roatan beach

Transfer to La Ceiba port for a ferry to Roatán island. Roatán is situated 50km off the coast of Honduras and is the most developed of the Bay Islands. It was once a hideaway for pirates and the infamous captain Henry Morgan made it his lair. Its people are a mix of Afro-Caribbean, European and Garífuna indian descent with English the main language spoken.

Fishing is still its main economic activity although in recent years it has become a top international destination for scuba diving and snorkelling. Sun worshippers can take advantage of some glorious secluded beaches while others can enjoy the eateries and use the facilities of the dive schools which line the powdery white sands of West Bay. Continue to your resort at Barefoot Cay.

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Roatan beach

Days 9-10

At leisure on the Caribbean island.
 
Roatan Diving

Your intimate resort hotel is set right on the beach. It caters for divers so there are optional opportunities for you to explore the coral reef – some of the best undersea viewing in the world.

However there are plenty of things to do for those who are not sub-aqua aficionados. Roatán offers a wide variety of adventures which can be organised from the hotel, from zip-lining to swimming with dolphins and horse riding to sunset sails. Kayaking, fishing, glass-bottomed boat tours, golf : there's something to appeal to everyone, and a spa on the premises if you need to relax after your exertions.

Of course, you might choose just to swing in a hammock, or enjoy a cocktail beside the pool.

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Roatan Diving

Day 11

Fly from Roatán to San Pedro to connect with your international flight.

Essential information

Transport

1 domestic flight by turbo-prop flights (40 mins) - NB limited luggage allowance; 1 boat trip; 4 scenic road journeys.

International flights to San Pedro Sula from the UK: Thursdays on Air Europa via Madrid; Sundays on American Airlines via Miami.

Accommodation

Some of the accommodation has been chosen for its convenience of location; but they are all good quality, friendly establishments. Pico Bonito Lodge and Barefoot Caye Hotel on the Caribbean coast are regarded by most as truly first class.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch days 3, 6.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by clients on their return.

Included excursions


• Copán: Guided tour of Mayan ruins and museum.
• Lancetilla National Park.
• Pico Bonito: Excursion to Cayos Cochinos.

Summary of nights

11 days, 10 nights: San Pedro Sula 1; Copán Ruinas 3; Pico Bonito 3; Barefoot Caye 3.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport in Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Honduras is the lempira.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$35-45 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you may pay considerably more. The cost of living can be considerably cheaper in rural areas than major resorts.

How to take it

In Honduras, you can change US dollar cash locally in banks and may be able to obtain cash advances via the few ATMs in larger towns and cities. You may have to ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK, and amounts may be limited.  However these ATMs do not always accept foreign cards, which are also not usable in many smaller hotels and commercial outlets. Since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. You can obtain cash advances in most banks throughout the country. IN some places you can pay in US dollars cash.

We recommend that you also take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash - in some places you can pay with this currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket. However there is a charge of around $US40 charged locally for departures from San Pedro Sula.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. This holiday is suitable for all, including families. However, if you have a disability we should be aware of, or other special requirements, please call us. From May to October the weather can be extremely hot and humid, you should bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.

Climate

Travellers in May to October should encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity in the lowlands and on the coast and islands. There are likely to be some short bursts of heavy rainfall during these months. From December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in the lowlands, and plenty of sun.  Rainfall and humidity will be lower at this time.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. It's sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitoes may be hovering around.

Protection against the sun (sun-block, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sun block, guidebook, water and any extra layers.

The airline operating the light aircraft flight from Roatán imposes a hold luggage limit of 15kg.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to, or via, the USA you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be digital e-passports with an embedded chip. Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Water-To-Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.
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