Honduras – it’s time to discover this ecotourism paradise
The exceptional biodiversity of Honduras draws eco-conscious visitors from around the world who want to discover and support conservation of the destination’s precious natural assets, and promote long-term sustainable tourism. Whether travellers are drawn to the numerous bird watching sites; headed underwater to explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the largest coral reef in the Americas; soaking up the sun on the turquoise beaches of the Bay Islands; trekking through the cloud forests in Parque Nacional Montana de Celaque; or exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Copán; they will discover opportunities to participate in sustainable programs and truly learn about Honduras and its culture while treading lightly, acting kindly, and supporting to the communities they visit.
The Tea & Chocolate Place is an expertly curated store and café that serves as a window into Mayan culture. Located in the historical town of Copán Ruins, one of the most influential cities of the ancient Mayan world, The Tea & Chocolate Place is a great place to sample locally produced herbal products while learning first-hand about local conservation efforts. Owner and archaeological David Sedat has lived in the area for more than two decades, serving as the field director for the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Copán Project. He is a world recognized expert on Copán and has been part of some of the area’s most significant excavations. David is equally committed to the reintroduction of native flora as a way to combat deforestation and soil erosion, while simultaneously honoring ancient traditions. He uses the 25 acres of land surrounding The Tea & Chocolate Place for this purpose and is happy to share his knowledge of the area and its history with visitors over a traditional hot chocolate made with fresh ground cacao beans.
The scarlet macaw, Honduras’ national bird, is an emblematic symbol of the country that has become endangered due to the illegal wildlife trade. To combat this, American expat Lloyd Davidson, locally known as the “Bird Man of Roatan,” founded Macaw Mountain Bird Park in Copán in 2001 following earlier macaw conservation projects in the Bay Islands. In partnership with the World Parrot Trust, Macaw Mountain is one of the region’s earliest conservation efforts, established to protect, rehabilitate, and reintroduce the scarlet macaw to the wild, while simultaneously educating the local community on the importance of the species and their role in its conservation. Visitors to Macaw Mountain can amble through trails and over bridges while visiting the aviary, observing more than 200 birds that are part of the rehabilitation program, and spotting free-flying scarlet macaws that inhabit a 335 square-mile area known as “The Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaw.” Macaw releases are held once or twice during the year, allowing visitors to enjoy watching the free-flying Macaws across town.
Like in many places of the world, the Mesoamerican reef surrounding Honduras has been impacted by farming, fishing, and growing populations. However, the marine protected area of Tela Bay is home to some of the healthiest and most resilient coral reef in the Caribbean. Researchers believe the reef system at Tela could be the key to understanding current reef degradation and may also provide solutions for saving or recovering other portions of the Mesoamerican Reef. Tela Marine Research Centre (TMRC) in Atlántida on Honduras’ northern Caribbean coast is a reef research, conservation, and education center, offering dive excursions to this outstanding underwater site. TMRC also operates the locally run Tela Coral Aquarium which launched in 2019. Open to the public, the aquarium provides visitors with a close look at what resides in the ocean just outside the building and offers interactive exhibits where visitors may touch different organisms as they learn about the habitat.
Located at the highest point in Honduras, Celaque National Park is home to the largest cloud forest in the country and a rich ecosystem of rare flora and fauna. The park was founded in 1987 after successful efforts by local grassroots organizations to curtail logging and deforestation. Today, numerous non-governmental organizations work to ensure the pristine slopes of Celaque stay healthy and convey the importance of the preservation of the park’s natural resources to local farmers. The park’s signature experience is a two-day trek to the cloud forest, and plenty of other visitors come to this protected area to bird watch, hike trails of varying degrees of difficulty, and camp.
Located in the heart of Central America, Honduras is a destination rich in biodiversity as home to a diverse array of ecosystems including dense rainforests, towering cloud forests, rushing rivers, and the largest coral reef in the Americas. This landscape provides the setting for boundless outdoor and adventure activities including whitewater rafting, waterfall repelling, birdwatching, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and more. Honduras was an important center of the ancient Mayan world, and archaeologists and history buffs are drawn to the Copán Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site located near the country’s western border with Guatemala.
Four major airports serve Honduras in San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Roatan, and the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where a new airport is slated to open by the end of 2021. For more information on Honduras, please visit www.honduras.travel/en.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.