A Short Drive to Paradise!
At a first glance, the city of La Ceiba seems rather ordinary. A typical coastal Latin American city that saw its best days 50 years ago during the time when it was the capital of the original Banana Republic. But the days when ships came into port with goods from the around the World and left with their cargo holds full of bananas and other fruits for the World; when the railroads where the primary source of transportation within the department of Atlantida and towards the rest of Honduras are now part of the past. No longer is Honduras a Banana Republic, and La Ceiba is therefore not the capital of the agricultural empire of such a republic! The city is nestled between the Caribbean Coast and the rugged Nombre de Dios Mountains, and claims to have managed its transition from being the capital of the Banana Republic to now being the Eco Tourism Capital of Honduras.
On a quest to find out how true this claim to being the Eco Tourism Capital of Honduras really is, I have set out to drive up to the Cangrejal River Valley. This road, I am told, was built in the old banana days to go over the mountains and into the Aguan Valley, where the banana plantations are still located. Today the road does not go as far as the Aguan Valley, but it does take you to what reputedly is the best adventure and nature destination of La Ceiba, and for that matter, Honduras.
At first, I am rather unimpressed; the bridge over the Cangrejal River does not show a river that is particularly unique or attractive… Following down the road, the scenery is not particularly special either, as I drive through part of an unimpressive neighborhood; however, after a short one mile drive from the turnoff, the scenery suddenly turns a lot more attractive. Although the river is still unimpressive, the mountains that form part of Pico Bonito National Park are truly beautiful and inspiring. The drive continues taking me through what is quickly becoming an awe-inspiring trip, and all within a few miles, counted with a hand, from downtown La Ceiba! Almost like a unique symphony building up a crescendo, the view becomes more and more inspiring: lush tropical rain forests on either side of the Cangrejal River, which now appears as a beautiful clear blue-green river flowing through huge building size boulders, creating the perfect setting for white water rafting and kayaking… Perhaps this truly is a short drive to paradise! As I continue on the road, I am pleasantly surprised to find that there are up to 10 different inns, lodges and boutique bed and breakfasts within 6 or 7 miles from downtown La Ceiba! A magnificent “Indiana Jones” style hanging bridge takes me across a 400 foot span over the Cangrejal River into a dense tropical forest with trails towards a spectacular 200 foot high waterfall crashing down the cliffs of Pico Bonito Park on its way to the Cangrejal River far below. I am awed by such beauty! I cast away all doubts about La Ceiba being the Eco Tourism Capital of Honduras. Heck, this should be the Eco Tourism Capital of Central America! I would have never guessed that I could take a short drive to paradise a truly find it! Its time to find the ideal boutique bed and breakfast to spend a few days exploring this unique paradise!
My plan was to visit the Bay Islands of Roatan and Utila, which are nearby, but they can wait, for now, its time to enjoy the rain forest, relax in nature, and have some adventure hiking and river rafting!