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There is growing recognition that Honduran “cacao fino” is perhaps one of the finest in the world. It is no surprise then, that archaeologists have uncovered proof of ancient cacao farming in Honduras and considered the country “the cradle of chocolate.”
In Mesoamerican cultures, like the Mayan, cacao seeds were used as currency, and this fact is depicted in many sculptures in the Copan Valley. Cacao was an important part of the Mayan culture, so, naturally it is highlighted in our itineraries, specifically those that feature Copan; where you can enjoy a refreshing traditional-style cacao beverage. We also visit a family owned, small-scale cacao farm in the rain forest near La Ceiba, to taste their chocolate bars and exquisite cacao liqueur.
So far, 770 bird species have been identified in Honduras, but there’s always a chance there are more! Enjoying a prime location at the southernmost fringe of the North American migratory bird route, this is a birder’s paradise. The diverse ecosystems (tropical rain forest, tropical dry forest, pine-oak forest, pine savannah, cloud forests, mangrove forests, coastal dune, etc.) and relative small size, mean that a wide variety of birds find a home here which allows for an unparalleled birding experience. Highlights are many and include, but aren’t limited to, the exquisite Honduran Emerald (an endemic species of Hummingbird), the Ocellated Quail, the Blue-throated Motmot, the Fulvous Owl , the White-bellied Chachalaca, and the Green-breasted Mountain-gem. Yobani Peraza, a renowned local expert birding guide, creates special birding itineraries for Choose Honduras.
Hondurans have been growing coffee since the colonial period - before independence from Spain! By 1804, a census by then Governor don Ramon de Anguiano declared: “Honduran coffee is of such quality as the one from Moka!” (*In the 1800s coffee from Mauritius (Moka) and Indonesia (Java) were considered the best in the world). Since 2005, Honduran coffee from the Marcala region, in the Lenca highlands, has been recognized as Central America’s first “designation of origin” registry for a food item.
Coffee is extremely important to the Honduran economy, comprising around 10% of GDP, and benefiting approximately 120,000 families. During harvest, the coffee industry employs 1 million people meaning that about 20% of the country’s population depends on coffee for their livelihood. There are grand estates with more than 100 years of production history, and at the same time coffee producer co-ops utilizing the latest equipment. From professional agronomists to small-scale farmers, everyone is bringing their own skills, ideas and creativity to the table. Traditions, innovation, and modern technology live side by side on these farms.
At Choose Honduras we create coffee-centric itineraries visiting many different types of farms and local coffee farmers, or a casual farm visit as part of a nature and culture itinerary, you decide. We visit +100 year-old estate farms, meet inventive entrepreneurs developing specialty coffees and find small-scale farmers in mountain villages to give you the coffee experience from many different angles. During harvest season, as a guest feel free to strap on a “tumbilla” and help the local farmers pick the ripe coffee cherries.
With almost 700 kilometers of spectacular and diverse shoreline along the Caribbean Sea, Honduras is very much a tropical paradise. Dozens of islands, and cays dot the warm waters and in many places the lush tropical rain forest edges right up to the soft, white sand.
We always seek out the lesser known, unspoiled beaches for our travel experiences: Cocalito and Puerto Caribe in Punta Sal National Park near Tela, El Playon near East End in Cayos Cochinos, Camp Bay in the eastern end of Roatan, and more.
Small in size, Honduras has a vast array of cultural diversity. In addition to the Ladinos (people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry), there are also the Lenca people mostly settled in their ancestral lands in Lempira, Intibuca, and La Paz. The Miskito, Tawahka, and Pech of the northeast, the Tolupan in the Montana de la Flor, the Maya Chorti of the Copan Valley; as well as the Garifuna along the Caribbean coast, and Creoles in the Bay Islands. Immigrants mainly from the Middle East, West Indies, North America, and Asia have also contributed significantly to the cultural landscape of Honduras.
As a nation, Honduras is very proud to be home to the Mayan city of Copan, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre; and proud that UNESCO has also declared the language, dance, and music of the Garifuna a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
As you make your way around the country, you will have a chance to meet and interact with locals, and notice distinct “regional” nuances, but also a common, warm feeling of hospitality palpable across the country.
When it comes to food, Honduran cuisine is simple and unpretentious. Baleadas are a national favorite. On the Caribbean coast you’ll find delicious homemade coconut and cassava bread, rich seafood soup accompanied with plantain based Machuca, and "tabletas de coco", coconut-ginger sweets. In western Honduras and in the Lenca Highlands, "cuajada" a fresh raw cow milk's cheese will usually be part of the typical dish along with red beans, salsa fresca, avocado, grilled beef or pork and a stack of corn tortillas.
An abundance of ecosystems (tropical rain forests, mangrove-lined lagoons, cloud forests, and tropical rivers) mean that beaches are only the beginning. Nature enthusiasts and outdoor explorers are spoiled for choice. During your trip to Honduras you can enjoy a boat ride in the Caribbean Sea, or kayak through mangrove lined channels. Master traditional hand line fishing, or fly thru the tree tops on a zip line. Hike through the jungle, up hillsides and along riverbanks for one day or several. Spot rare birds you’ve only ever seen on nature documentaries or swim with tropical fish on a river snorkeling expedition or in the best preserved coral reef in the world.
What makes Honduras unique and special?
Honduras is home to several exquisite and well preserved ancient Mayan sites.
A jewel of the Mayan world, Copan is one of the ancient Mayan civilization’s most spectacular remnants. Exquisite hieroglyphs, ornate stone temples, plazas, altars, and stunningly-carved stelae give this UNESCO World Heritage Site outstanding universal value. Beneath the acropolis, a series of underground tunnels - aqueducts, tombs, and temples - reveal an even earlier period of Mayan civilization in the Copan valley. Today, thanks to an ambitious re-introduction project, Scarlet Macaws, a sacred bird to the Mayans, once again roam free among the archaeological treasures.
Beyond the ruins, laid-back Maya-Chorti villages, tranquil coffee farms, and some of the best birding in the country, make the area a spectacular destination in its own right.