We have passed through La Ceiba during our previous Central American
experiences, but we had never stayed any longer than it took to
board our connecting ferry. This time was different. We had several
days planned in Honduras with a couple excursions in the works.
We arrived from Roatan on the Galaxy Wave. It is a comfortable
ride between the islands for a low cost. Getting to Utila, on the
other hand, was a completely different story. But I'll save that
The Pico Bonitos in the background of La Ceiba port always makes
for a nice photo opportunity. The cloud cover present on arrival
was gone by the following day making for an excellent afternoon.
After collecting our luggage we were off through the parking lot
to find our guide.
We met Christian, one of our guides for the trip, and climbed into
their 4WD and began our climb up the mountain.
The main road in the city was actually very nice - surprising to
But once we left the main road things changed in a hurry.
It didn't start so bad, but eventually we slowed to about 5 - 10mph
for the remaining couple miles of the journey.
Unfortunately it was near impossible to get decent photos because
the vehicle was bouncing all over the place. Truthfully I was more
worried about protecting my head from bouncing off the windows,
seats, and roof than trying to snap photos. But I did manage a few.
From this point forward this part of the vacation was a scenic masterpiece.
Every direction I turned was a photo opportunity.
If I recall correctly, this is the bend where we actually took
out of the river when we were whitewater rafting. In simpler terms,
the trip ended right here. But I happened to snap this picture on
our way up into the valley on our arrival. Finally we turned off
the washed-out mud road and started to climb straight up the mountain
on a cobblestone path.
For a second there I think I preferred the flat winding mud road,
but before long we arrived at the lodge...
...and once again Hank gave me that stare of "Just what in
the phuck did you get me into this time?" All I had to do was
turn and point.
This was my very first trip into a rainforest. Let me tell you,
it was wicked cool and ridiculously loud at night. Like an outdoor
concert hall, but rather than keeping me awake it was tranquil and
encouraged a peaceful nights rest. We were doing this eco-adventure
Tours and I highly recommend them. If I find myself passing
through their area again I will without a doubt stay with them again.
A truly first-class operation in a third-world country.
Those are the steps coming down from our cabana. You obviously
didn't make frequent trips up to your room, and even once you got
to your room you weren't done yet...
....but once you got up there it was well worth it.
That's the sitting area of our mountain top cabana. There is no
glass anywhere - its completely screened in. The view was completely
unobstructed of the peaks of Pico Bonito National Park. I climbed
up even further into the loft area to reach my bed.
So I woke up the first morning and couldn't believe my eyes. Without
climbing out of bed I reached for my camera on the night stand and
snapped a photo right where I lay.
I could wake up to that every morning. Unseen in this photo is
a rushing waterfall that made for a nice low rumble throughout the
valley. If you spot the grove in the trees just to the right of
the cabana support post - that's the waterfall. The tree to the
far right had Toucans sitting in it eating some sort of fruit. You
better believe I wasn't in a hurry to get out of bed. But we had
some whitewater rafting to do, and we were rewarded with near perfect
weather and river conditions to do it.
He thinks he is ready for what he is about to experience...
A brief hike through the rainforest began the journey to the river.
It afforded our first view of what we were about to drop into.
If it looks like we are high above the river it's because we are.
And we had to climb down there without a ladder, stairs, escalator,
or elevator. And we had to get the boats down there, too.
Hank was proud when he made it to the water's edge.
No time to rest now Hanky-poo. Our guide Al takes us up-river in
some "practice grounds" to learn how to fall out of the
boat and get back in. I'll say that again because it is important...
this is just the practice area where we are intentionally falling
overboard so we can climb back in. Right...
All good and wet and pre-game jitters gone, we are off down river
for what became the experience of a lifetime.
I always knew I would try whitewater rafting at least once in my
life. It was an adventure that always seemed right up my alley,
but I always figured it would take place in Tennessee or maybe even
in Arizona or the off chance West Virginia. Never did I ever envision
riding down the Rio Cangrejal of the Pico Bonito National Park as
my first rafting experience. It is widely ranked as the eight-best
river for rafting worldwide. In the future I may have to be rather
picky about where I do my rafting.
This particular waterfall is called the "Little Fucker"
by the tour guides because it swallows up so many clients.
That, I'm told, is classified as a Class IV rapid. The photo below
depicts what it looks like when my father and I come down the waterfall.
Look closely - we are in there. You can see two of our oars sticking
out of the frothing water. Also in the picture (but not shown) is
myself, my father, Al our tour guide, a third oar, and... I think
I'm forgetting something... Oh yeah, our raft! Our photographer
apologized to us for not capturing our image on the waterfall. I'd
say he did just fine, wouldn't you? I'm proud to say we cleared
the entire gorge without falling out of the raft one time.
About midway down river we pulled off for a break. On the left
is our river guide Al. He was born in Ireland but lives in Scotland
leading tours down river there when he isn't in Honduras doing the
After our break Al took us "surfing." As I would soon
find out, surfing on a river is comprised of rowing upstream and
placing your raft under the waterfall. It is done as a game to see
who is the first person to get thrown out of the raft by the rushing
water. I lost. But in my defense I was setup! Al placed me in the
front seat of the raft and then paddled me head first into it. I
highly recommend you
view this video and get a laugh at my father and I. You'll hear
us laughing and screaming like little school girls on the playground.
If you listen carefully you can even hear the last words of the
tour guide to me before placing me underwater, "If you can't
breath just turn around!" Oh boy! At first it didn't register
and I holler back "What!?" but it was too late and into
the waterfall I went. Funny, though, at just the exact moment I
needed it, I realized exactly what it was Al was telling me to do.
After clearing the gorge we were in for a much more calmer ride
down river for the second half of the day.
The easier riding gave me a chance to do some photography and even
a little videography as well. Check
out this short video of us rolling down a small waterfall.
Near the end of the day it was time to ditch the old man in his
own surfing accident. He took it gracefully and drifted alongside
the boat for an extended time before allowing us the opportunity
to give him "encouragement spankings" to get back in.
All-in-all an absolutely fantastic day!
After we pulled off the river for the day we headed back to the
lodge, chowed on some awesome pasta, took a nap up in the mountain
tops, and readied for an evening of drinking Franziskaner beer in
a Central American rainforest. Odd that we were drinking a German
beer in Honduras? You bet your ass. The lodge owner is Udo, direct
from Germany, and still in love with his German wheat beers. So
cheers to him for me enjoying beer in Central America. Not only
that, but the lodge also had a German section on the menu with any
type of 'wurst you could want. Yummy for thy tummy. If we ate like
shit at Fantasy Island, we were sure eating like kings once we got
off the resort.
One thing that disappointed me about Fantasy Island was how shitty
the actual facilities were. Doors and windows didn't fit their frames,
peeling paint, rotten wood, etc. The place has the location, and
could be a gold mine, with only a little bit of TLC and some attention
to detail. In stark contrast was Omega Lodge. The facility was immaculate.
Everything was hand built by Udo the owner from local wood or on-site
available stones and trees and attention to detail was to the extreme.
I'll show you a few examples.
The pool. No big deal, right? I suppose, but it was hand molded
by Udo and it functions almost exactly like my aquarium does. The
pool is filled by a nearby stream falling from the mountains. As
the pool reaches a certain height, the water falls over this "overflow"
or dam, and flows back into the stream. The pool is essentially
a big aquarium made from dammed up mountain spring water. Every
couple weeks it needs to be cleaned of algae since it doesn't use
any chlorine. He has a drain valve at the low point of the pool
and was able to scrub/drain it, close the valve and refill it. Genius
and really eco-friendly.
This is the entrance to an outdoor shower. Note the placement of
the stones for a stairwell. It also functions as the run-off drain
for the shower.
And there is the all-natural shower. Top of the photo you see the
shower head, center of the photo you see the hot and cold water
valves. Built into the stone wall are shelves for soap, shampoo,
etc. The blue object on the right of the photo is a candle - there
were maybe a dozen I counted throughout the shower. Note the ivy
and other plants growing throughout. The roof was a tree canopy.
Note the floor of the shower. It was one single solid piece of
stone. It wasn't placed there. The owner built this shower around
that stone. So have you ever showered in a more awesome place?
The following day we were headed to the coast of La Ceiba to do
some lagoonal kayaking. A pit stop at a gas station for beverages
produced this fine fellow.
He apparently needed an attack shotgun to preside over the gas
pumps. I'm hopeful it has never been used but I'm skeptical. Sitting
at the corners of the property were concrete gun turrets. I shit
you not. If this wasn't already the most well guarded gas station
I've already visited an armored truck pulls up. No, I'm not shitting
If you've ever witnessed these in America (who hasn't?) you've
seen the door pop open and an old man with droopy pants hop out
followed by a young overweight guy pushing a hand cart. Not in Honduras.
This shit was straight out of Hollywood. The door popped open and
all you see are barrels of rifles and head checks. One guy drops
out sprints to the corner surveys his perimeter and gives the clear
call. Another second guy does the same. A third guy sprints into
the gas station while a fourth guards the truck. Color me impressed.
So what do I do? I, the 6'4" 270lbs American walk straight
up to the lad and say, "Yo hablo english?" (Do you speak
English?) ...No answer... "Mind if I take your photo?"
...No answer. And so I took this photo. He didn't seem delighted
but I think he was perhaps relieved to see it was only a camera
I pulled out of my jacket pocket.
And so we left before getting shot to death and along the way we
came across a pair of cyclists working their way out of town. Gotta
give them some love. Staying at our lodge was this awesome Dutch
chick cycling her way across Honduras. Brit, if you read this, thanks
for letting me use your satellite connection! This wasn't her, but
perhaps they were doing much the same. Eventually, once again, we
turn off the paved road. Once again, things get interesting quick.
The toll keeper.
In all seriousness, when you got off-road in Honduras everyone
carried a large machete. And I do mean everyone. Women and children
were not an exception. I don't know if they were used for protection
in particular, but I can say they were often used for many chores
or work activities. Mowing the lawn or chopping down trees to splitting
bricks, machetes are a very integral part of the Honduran livelihood.
Where I have a water bottle or D-lock located on my bicycle, a Honduran
has fashioned a brace to mount their machete on their bicycle.
We finally arrive to our natural lagoon. Not the river we just
rafted, but other outlets from mountains springs flood down to the
valley and form this lagoon. It eventually flows out into the open
sea, but before doing so creates a very unique habitat of mangrove
swamps for several species of monkeys, all sorts of tropical birds,
butterflies, etc. The dock you see above never existed until the
hit television show Survivor came to town. This is where they filmed
Survivor: Roatan. The interesting point to be made here is this
isn't Roatan, or even a remote island. It's mainland Honduras, 10
miles from a fairly major metropolitan area. We passed the hotel
where the cast and crew (yes I did say cast) stayed. Oh, what, you
thought those people starved for food on a remote island location?
We paddled out through here, but if you look just above the boat
you can see some of the pillars the cast of Survivor: Roatan would
stand on when they were voted "off the island."
Since Hank is old he had the pleasure of getting towed for his
entire afternoon by our guide Al. I, on the other hand, was subjected
the full experience.
I can say I enjoyed the afternoon, but I also won't actively seek
out another opportunity to do some kayaking.
This is where the lagoon flows out to sea. You can see by the dark
colored water wrapping down the coastline (above) and the area of
rapids in the shallows (below) that a large amount of water is flowing
out of the lagoon.
Looking back into the lagoon.
The village chief's son was at the docks to help us pull out and
load up the boats. We tipped him with our leftover cookies from
Before we knew it we had to leave mainland and head out to sea.
Our time here had expired and we were due in Utila. Follow our trip
into Utila by following
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