Travel in Honduras: Tegucigalpa and La Tigra National Park

Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, seems to be more of a transit city for most travelers, but personally, I feel this historic Honduran city definitely deserves a second look. ❤

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Iglesia de Dolores in Tegucigalpa

Not only is it blessed with stunning colonial architecture…

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Plaza Morazán and Cathedral in Tegucigalpa

and surrounded by a range of stunning mountains…

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La Tigra National Park near Tegucigalpa

the city has some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever met! ❤

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Here’s a guy that is blindfolded in the main square with a sign that says, “I have trust in you. Do you have trust in me? Give me a hug.”

Now most backpackers traveling through Central America will inevitably pass through Tegucigalpa. It’s the major transit point for buses coming from neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua, as well as, the most common airport for planes arriving in Honduras.tegucigalpa-map1Personally, I chose to stay in “Teguz”, the city’s nickname, for three nights, which really gave me a better sense of this city’s dynamic and culture.

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door of Tegucigalpa with chihuahua street art

Where to Stay:

I chose to stay at Palmira Hostel, of which I would highly recommend! They have a nice kitchen, comfy dorm rooms, and a beautiful rooftop terrace.

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rooftop at Palmira Hostel

As well, they offer free walking tours, free bicycle rentals, free drinking water, free WiFi, and free yoga each afternoon. The yoga is more like a Jane Fonda-style workout that the owner does on the rooftop each evening. Hah! He tried to get me to join in, but I decided to watch the sunset instead. 😛

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sunset over in the mountains in Tegucigalpa

Anyway, on my first day in Teguz, I chose to do the free walking tour of the city. I went with Javier, my guide, and Ashok, a retiree from India, who is currently living in Vancouver.DSC_2919We started in the neighborhood of my hostel, which is home to many upper-class families, and over 15 different embassies. From there, we made our way downtown, where you can definitely see some of the city’s inequalities.

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Don’t sell us like dogs, defend us.

Despite the poverty, I never felt insecure walking in the city. Sure I got whistled at once or twice, but that’s the norm in Latin American culture, and for the most part, everyone was friendly and smiling as we walked by. Anyway, the tour was incredibly laid-back, and Javier walked us to the major historical buildings, and even to this Garifuna cultural center, where they were having a theater practice. Garifuna are Afro-Caribbean people, and the major indigenous community in Honduras. They are well-known for their incredibly expressive art forms, such as song and dance. Here is a short clip from their practice.

Anyway, after finishing our tour, the next stop was to try baleadas, the most popular food in Honduras. A baleada is composed of a tortilla slathered with refried red beans. I chose the most common fillings of cheese and sour cream; however, baleadas are also eaten for breakfast, filled with egg and avocado as well. Simple and delicious! 😀

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pot of refried beans and tortillas grilling on the stove

Afterwards I got back to the hostel sweaty and exhausted, hoping for a nice hot shower. Instead, when I walked into the backroom, toiletries in hand, I was greeted with a sign that said something like, sorry we don’t have hot water, but this is a third world country. We are lucky that we even have water, since water shortages are a common occurrence in the country. Oh well! At least the hostel tried to keep things positive by listing all the benefits of cold showers. Hah!coldshowers1Anyway, I later found out that La Tigra, a national park less than an hour from the city, is the main water supply for the city. Not only that, the national park is also home to an abundance of birds and plant life. As such, I decided to check out the national park, as a nice day trip from the bustling city.

Visiting La Tigra National Park

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towering tree in La Tigra

Getting to La Tigra:

To get to La Tigra National Park, I took the earliest local bus, bound for Jutiapa at 7 a.m. The bus took almost 2 hours, but I enjoyed sitting with the locals and people-watching. I felt like every time someone got on the bus, they greeted all us passengers like we were old friends.

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old American school bus used as local transport in Honduras

Anyway, when I arrived at the final bus stop, I had to walk another 20 minutes, up a dirt road to the park entrance. On the way, I passed by a few local farms, with chickens running around, dogs barking, and children running outside in tattered clothes shouting, “Hola! Buenos Dias!” 😀

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rustic home near La Tigra

After arriving at the park entrance, I paid the 10 USD foreigner entrance fee (only 2 USD for locals), and mapped out which trails I walked to walk.DSC_3028I chose to walk 4 of the 6 trails, starting with the Bosque Nublado Trail, which loops onto La Esperanza Trail. Then at the end, I walked the smaller, Jucuara and Granadillas Trails.20170519_093124The Bosque Nublado, a.k.a cloud forest, was by far my favorite, for its diverse vegetation, veiled in a cloudy mist.
DSC_2943DSC_2972DSC_2981DSC_2965There were helpful navigational signs along the way, but not all the signs were very comforting. :/

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ocelots walk these same paths at night 😮

Luckily, I didn’t see anything dangerous, but I did spot a Guatusa, an adorable Central American rodent. ❤
DSC_2960Anyway, in contrast to the cloud forest, La Esperanza Trail is more airy and fresh, full of towering trees and budding mushrooms.
DSC_2986DSC_2990DSC_3002Then, on the Jucuara trail, I passed over rushing streams, and even to an old silver mine. DSC_3023DSC_3024Apparently this territory used to belong to Rosario Mining Company, an American-owned producer of silver and gold.DSC_3027Lastly, on Granadillas trail, I was able to pass by families of fluttering dragonflies. DSC_2997Now after finishing the trail loop, and arriving back to the visitors center, I discovered that I would have to wait about 2.5 hours for the next local bus back to Teguz! 😮

Luckily, a nice family with a car was heading there too, so I decided to go along with them for the ride. It was a dad with his father and two sons. The grandfather wanted to stop and pick up fresh fruit, but the grand-kids didn’t want to eat it. They were having a funny conversation the whole way back about why the kids should like fresh fruit if they like fruit-flavored popsicles and ice cream.

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woman who sold us fresh blackberries

Anyway, I found La Tigra to be a very well-kept national park, and an easy day trip for anyone looking to get out and enjoy nature. 🙂

Cost: 1 USD bus ride to La Tigra, 10 USD entry fee

https://www.facebook.com/parquenacionallatigra/

Anyway, that wraps up my time in Honduras. Up next, I’ll be spending the next week or two in Nicaragua, to explore a few different parts of the country. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 😀

Getting there (El Salvador to Honduras):
To get to Tegucigalpa, Honduras from San Salvador, El Salvador, I took Tica Bus, which took 9 hours and cost 20 USD. Tica Bus is one of the most well-known bus companies in Central America, and I found their service quite good. Their staff was very friendly, which made the border crossing quite easy, and the bus was air conditioned with free WiFi.

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