After returning to the hostel from the ferry terminal, we walked over to the Wal-Mart Supercentre and stocked up for the next leg returning to Tigger by taxi. Josée & Joe joined us here in La Ceiba as we have booked that whitewater rafting adventure for Friday. We sat in the bar area of the hostel for happy hour and met a young man from France, named Romain, who wanted to go rafting as well so we asked him to join us. He is taking a year off work and backpacking sections of Central and South America.
Friday morning, we were picked up at 8:00 (annoyingly in a cab that only fits four so Joe & Josée squished into the front seat) and Juan Carlos decked us out for the trip at the Jungle River Lodge on the Rio Cangrejal (Crab River – however he told us that sadly, the crabs are all gone) in the Pico Bonito National Park. Turned out despite booking the rafting trip, we were on a canyoneering/rafting trip so a little unexpected but we had fun. River was not as high as we’d hope so we only had Class I, II and III rapids; the threes were lots of fun.
Canyoneering consisted of swimming across the river a few times, jumping off huge boulders and trying to cross the current several times. Fran did not like the biggest jump we had to do so she walked to a lower spot and lowered herself into the water and swam across. When we came to the next large “jump” she was quite nervous and Doug jumped with her. She can swim but is not a strong swimmer and at two points she was using the guide’s rope to get across as the current is strong. Everyone but Romain struggled at this one particular tricky part where you had to reach out quite a ways to the hand holds IN the current.
When we got to the end point, we swam into the current in the middle of the river and floated back down a ways through two small sets of rapids to a point where we met our rafts. We were in one raft with Juan Carlos; Joe & Josée had another with a guide named Darwin and Romain went with another guide and two more in training.
We rafted a total of 6km and it was quite fun. We never got thrown but Romain’s boat went upright at the biggest set of rapids and they were all spilled out. At that set, we went down the rapids and then Juan Carlos got us to steer back to the bottom of it and we were showered/massaged for a few minutes at the base (above photo) – great fun. The last 3 km were mostly flat water with a few small rapids.
When we went past the lodge, there were some huge boulders to jump off IF you wanted to; Fran did not but Doug did the 3M and the 7M – here’s some video:
Back at the lodge, we enjoyed a beer, and the owner Oscar, showed us around the lodge and we met the resident macaw. Oscar took us back to La Ceiba in a larger 4×4 Toyota with an open back (photo at top of this page). We brought our life jackets along for cushioning on the metal seats.
We spent that afternoon doing errands, showering and relaxing. We met another British man at the hostel that night during happy hour. Shaggy currently lives in Grand Cayman and is a dive instructor visiting Honduras and Nicaragua for his vacation. It is apparently low season in the Caymans right now.
As we have decided to travel with Joe & Josée together from this point for a while, we all broke “camp” and headed inland Saturday morning after filling our water tanks. We drove about 250 kms – way more than we like but there’s not much to see or camp at inland on the way to Nicaragua. This section of highway was in pretty good shape but sections were under construction. We stopped at a fruit stand and picked up some lychees and mangosteens. The former tasted like lychees as we’d had them back in Canada but you need to floss after eating them and the latter looks like cloves of garlic inside and is quite sweet – tasty but lots of work.
We arrived at Cerro Azul Meambar National Park (aka PanaCam Lodge) at about 600m/2000ft in elevation. It is said this is the best NP in the country. They have a lovely lodge with cabins, a restaurant and guides as this is a birder’s paradise. There are hikes to do in the forest to waterfalls and lookouts. We were only going to stay one night but none of us is in a hurry and this is a pretty spot with cooler temps than the coast was so we have opted for two. After setting up, we took the short .3 km hike to the waterfall/swimming hole which was quite pretty but the pool looked rather shallow.
We enjoyed our happy hour under cover in the camping chill area which has picnic tables, power and a hammock and bathrooms with basic cold showers. That night it rained off and on so despite being cool enough not to have to use AC, having the ceiling fans/vents closed and the windows partially closed to stay dry, it got too warm so we closed up and turned it on to sleep better.
Sunday was a wet day. We took the time to share media off our external hard drives with Joe & Josée in our private shelter. The camping area became quite muddy and it was a slippery walk in sections through mud.
We did manage to fit in a walk through the cloud forest in the afternoon when the clouds stopped crying that included two bird watching towers but we did not see ANY birds until after we visited the waterfall again on the way back and we saw a couple fly by us – good thing birds were the not main reason we stopped here!
Late in the afternoon we had a fellow traveler join us; Joost is from Holland and is driving the PanAm north on his motorbike. He has been on the road for about 1.5 years and will complete his journey in LA. He took advantage of the rain shelter had storing his motor bike away from the rain and slept in his hammock there as well. The five of us enjoyed happy hour swapping stories while it poured around us.
Monday morning we left and began the journey to the Nicaragua border slowly. We drove through the city of Comayagua where the cathedral there sports an 800+ year old clock. We were a little underwhelmed but take at look at the number 4 on this clock:
We ran a few small errands with Joe and Josée in el centro before we all stopped in a little hole in the wall restaurant to try the local Honduran food: baleadas. They are made with flour tortillas and we tried the “simple” and chicken ones which come with cheese and refried beans. They were way better than the El Salvadoran pupusa’s but Fran found them only okay; kinda bland. It seems that the Central Americans, unlike, Mexicans, are not fond of spicy foods. We also enjoyed some fresh juice from a fruit we did not recognize the name of but it tasted a little like pineapple juice. The waitress called it “nance” ????
We carried on down the highway after lunch to a camping spot on iOverlander at a water park outside of HND’s capital city. They apparently let you camp for free and only charge IF you use the park. After some confusion we found it but the gates were closed. After a bit of time, a guard came over and he opened the gates and said we could stay at no charge but with no services. As we were at higher altitude, this was not a problem. He did open the park so we could take a look and we were quite impressed with how large it was and even more with how well maintained it seemed to be. We had a quiet albeit rainy night here.
We headed into the capital city of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, the next morning to do a shopping and errand run starting with brekkie at McD’s for a change. Joe and Josée followed us there and then we went our separate ways for a bit as we had a couple of other errands to run (hardware store) and we agreed to meet up at tonight’s camping spot near Danli about a half hour from the border.
Tigger & Silver parked between Wal-Mart & Mickey Dees:
Doug managed to find what he needed/wanted at a huge hardware store and we met up wity Joe and Josée by midafternoon and enjoyed a swim in the hotel pool. Unfortunately, it began to rain before dinner so our time together was brief.
It turned out that this hotel had just put in Wi-Fi (since the last overlander had been here) and since the place was quiet with a pool, we opted to stay another night but Joe and Josée wanted to move on. They have flights home for the holidays from San Jose (as do we) but their flight is November 21st (ours is Dec 23) so they didn’t want to dawdle too long. They are making a couple of more stops than us enroute to León, Nicaragua so we hope to catch up with them again there.
We did our Spanish, lounged by the pool, Doug got some repairs done and Fran got internet stuff done. It was a good move to stay and chill after two back to back days of driving.
So Thursday morning, we had intended to stay a few hours at the campsite to continue to use the good internet but the power went out so that plan was foiled. We used up the rest of our Limperas at a gas station and made a bee line for the border.
So it’s adios to Honduras after 801 miles with half of those dodging potholes again like GTM, lots of rain which brought lots of leaks, some great memories of nice beaches, some snorkeling, plenty of green and mountains and lovely people. Most importantly, NO safety concerns at all despite the American press.