Birdwatching in Honduras

I’ve tried to upload photos but the internet is pretty slow here so it’ll have to wait another week.

Im currently in Nicaragua, so I spent about a week and a half in Honduras. There’s not a whole lot to say as a week of that was diving on the bay islands!
One thing that struck me over the course of that time, is that here, and probably further south too, a lot of people are moreno (Latino-like dark-skinned) but there are also many that are so white-skinned they can easily be mistaken for Europeans/americans. And that was rarely-never the case in Guatemala or Belize.

To visit the ruins of Copan, just 12km off the border with Guatemala I stayed in a town called Copan Ruinas, which, despite it’s proximity to the ruins, and therefore larger concentration of tourists (which by Western standards of the coast of Spain or the like is still a very small concentration) is still a very charming little town with a lovely square. Mind you – it is little.
The ruins were really cool. They are very different to the ruins of Tikal, because the construction and shape of the temples is distinct from that of those in Tikal where height seems to be the norm and here the ruins are flatter, more pyramid-like with the top chopped off, and the detail lies in the various pillars dotted around. Equally impressive. When I was there, though, the dark clouds where looming overhead and I even saw a lightning bolt right in front of me! Luckily the rain held out until after I finished. There were also tunnels beneath one of the temples, where you could see carvings of macaws and an old toilet-sewer system combo. Definitely worth it.

From there I spent a whole day traveling to San Pedro Sula, to La Ceiba and finally reached the island of Utila for some diving! Being on a boat of which the majority were tourists was a small shock to my system as I’d spent almost 4 weeks being one of the few white people around. Once on Utila I went to visit a friend I’d met in Nagoya, and I stay the night at her dive shop. I was almost going to dive there until I wen shopping around (there’s about 15 on the island) and I guiltily went to a different one with cheaper rooms and a beautiful ocean view, and I did the first 2 of my ten dives there. Over the next few days I just hung in the hammocks, made several new friends (both the visitors at Altons -the name o the dive shop – and the dive masters were really friendly). I went for a hike one day to find some random caves, and was going to volunteer for a night with an organisation that is working to protect the turtle breeding ground (called BICA) but the rain stopped us. We had several evenings of rain actually. The diving was pretty good, though I’d say Belize was better. I never managed to see an eagle ray underwater, everyone else did, though there was a group of about 10 that in the evenings was attracted to the light off our dock and would float around in the water beneath – they’re magical, imagine a flock of birds in a semi-v formation but underwater! I did see several octopuses (one on a nightdive) many moray eels, spotted drums, lion fish which are hunted as they are invading the reefs, boxfish etc etc.
Utila is quite the party island, with tequila Tuesday and other daily parties, and the food was the best at our dive shop – for the 4th of July the chef made barracuda and filet mignon with red White and blue potato salad (meaning bacon, cream and blue cheese) with coleslaw. All for a mere 5.5 euros!!

7 days of humming around and i forced myself onwards, having picked up 2 travel companions – agustina, from Argentina, and Talei, from the UK. We spent another long day traveling (not out of the ordinary) to reach Lago de Yojoa. This is Honduras’ biggest lake, and is often overlooked by travellers, which in my opinion is rather silly. We stayed at a hostel-cum-brewery called D&D brewery, and the location was great, the owners were super friendly (one had just acquired 2 4-week-old kittens which were adorable!) though the beer wasn’t to my liking as I dont like beer! The first evening we were subjected to the loudest thunderstorm of my life, we were quite literally in the eye of the storm.
The morning after we arrived we did a boat tour on the lake – which is stunning by the way. It’s about 8km wide at its largest point, and apart from one side which is developed for local tourism, is still very unspoilt. Our guide, Malcolm, was this really nice man originally from Ipswich but has spent a lot of time traveling around, especially India. He’s nothing less than a connoisseur of birds, and all 3 of us had a great time spotting several cool species, of which I got some great shots. Highly recommended!! In the afternoon we went to visit waterfalls, which were once again extremely well hidden but beautiful to see!

Then we moved on and said our goodbyes to Honduras with a 12 hour journey, a lot of which was on surprisingly comfortable buses, a border crossing at which we had to wait till a huge busload of tourists got their 50 passports checked and finally arrived in Somoto by taxi. Somoto isn’t even in the Rough Guides that I’m using, though it is in the lonely planet. It takes so long to get there (even though it’s 20km from the border) because it’s off a different border crossing from the main one. It was recommended to us by a friend (at this point I’m still with my 2 companions) because there’s a beautiful canyon there which was only discovered by foreigners in 2003. We did a half-day excursion with a guide called Henry (super nice!) which entailed clambering over rocks and fighting the currents with a final 7m jump into the water. It was pretty magical, swimming through a canyon that’s surrounded by high walls, at the top of which green plants grow up to the light. We even saw a hummingbird fluttering above the water, dipping into the water a few times before heading off. All 3 of agreed it was a lot of hard work, but worth every cordoba (the currency of Honduras).

Honduras is, by far, the hottest out of the countries I’ve been to. By 8.30am you’re already sweating buckets. Some travelers say you have to bank on a 30C minimum, and it’s winter!!
From Somoto we traveled a more reasonable 4 hours to Leon, where hostels seem to pack out quickly. Talei has left for a surf camp on the coast, and in a few days I’m traveling with Agustina overland (ouch!) to the Corn Islands, exciting!!

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