Honduras

Honduras Tourist Guide & Info

Introduction

Honduras is an absolutely wonderful country to discover. As a matter of fact, it offers three unique worlds to discover, making a trip here varied in culture, nature and relaxation. The world of Tropical Nature describes the many natural parks and curiosities that one can explore in Honduras. The world of the Maya is best represented by the city of Copan, an archaeological Mayan marvel, where the remains of two Maya queens were unearthed. Finally, the world of Caribbean Honduras has earned the nickname of "Banana Republic", which describes the beautiful coastal villages once ruled by banana companies. Also to explore are the Bay Islands, particularly the well developed Island of Roatan. 

The major cities offer a full range of traveler accommodations, ranging from many first-class hotels to a variety of less expensive alternatives. Dozens of fine restaurants offer nearly every type of international cuisine, as well as delicious local dishes.

 

Essential Info

  • Capital :
    Tegucigalpa
  • Currency :
    Lempira
  • Driver's License :
    International driver's license required
  • Electricity :
    110 volts, 60Hz
  • Entry Requirements :
    A passport, valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and an ongoing or return ticket are required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information.
  • GMT Time :
    -6 hr. Daylight savings time is not applied.
  • Government :
    Democratic Constitutional Republic
  • Land size :
    112,090 km2
  • Language :
    Spanish, Amerindian dialects
  • National Airlines :
    Islena Airlines, Atlantic Airlines and Aerolineas Sosa
  • Population :
    7,792,854 approx
  • Religion :
    Roman Catholic 97%, Protestant 3%
  • Required Vaccines :
    none
  • Tourist Season :
    November through April
  • Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada :
    Consult the "Country Travel Advice and Advisories" of Honduras

 

Origin & Culture

Cuisine
The Plato tipico is the most famous lunch. It consists of rice, beef, fried beans (frijolitos), and fried bananas (tajaditas). Tortillas and enchiladas are popular in Honduras, as well as baleadas which are filled with meat, beans and Honduran cheese. Tamales are a popular Christmas dish made of baked corn flour wrapped in plantain leaves with meat or fish in a sauce on the inside. Deep fried chicken with chopped cabbage is a staple takeaway dish.Plantains, beans and rice are an integral part of Honduran cuisine. Coconut is a common ingredient in coastal or island dishes. 

The popular licuados are fruit juices and milk shakes, made with fruits such as mango, pineapple, watermelon and banana. If you would like to enjoy local beers, try the Salvavida, Port Royal, Imperial and the newest Barena.

 

Culture

The Lenca people form the largest of the indigenous groups, covering the largest geographical area. Many Lenca traditions continue to be used, such as the construction of rural houses, techniques for sowing and harvesting crops, cooking traditional foods, firing of rustic ceramics and weaving of colourful baskets, hats and mats. 

The Garifuna people, a mix American Indian and African slaves who escaped from a wrecked slave ship, conserve a unique language and culture. Garifuna music is different from the rest of Central America; the most famous form is punta. Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include chumba, Paranda and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. 

Honduran music is a mixture of indigenous, European and African influences. Traditional instruments include the marimba, the caramba and conch shells. The Lenca, the Garifunas and the Miskitos have kept many of their musical traditions alive. Honduran folk music uses rhythms derived from Spanish music. 

Many great writers and painters, such as Ramon Amaya Amador, Jose Trinidad Reyes and Lopez Rodezno, have emerged in Honduras.

 

Geography
Honduras, the second largest country in Central America, borders the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south through the Gulf of Fonseca. Its topography consists up to 80% of mountains, with the occasional narrow plains along the coasts, the large lowland jungle La Mosquitia in the northeast, and the San Pedro Sula valley in the northwest. Offshore territories include the Bay Islands, a collection of three large islands, and over 60 islets and keys.

 

History

Honduras declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. In 1822 it was annexed to the Mexican Empire of Iturbide, which was overthrown in 1823. Hence Central America formed the Federation of the United Provinces. This Fedration disintegrated in 1838 and the states became independent nations. 

The Football War of 1969 was fought with El Salvador. There had always been border tension between the two countries. The war lasted approximately 100 hours and led to an arms race between the two countries. After two and a half decades of military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982. Hurricane Fifí caused severe damage in 1974. Hurricane Mitch devastated the country and wrecked its economic system in 1998.

 

Nature

The Pico Bonito National Park rises majestically behind La Ceiba, offering wonderful hiking and bird watching opportunities. White water rafting enthusiasts should head for the Rio Cangrejal. A great place to encounter some local wildlife is the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. Here you may see monkeys, alligators, manatees and water birds. The Lancetilla Botanical Gardens are a beautiful place to visit when in the town of Tela. Bird watchers flock to the Hotel Hacienda El Jaral's lagoon between October and May to watch the arrival of some6,000 egrets which nest nearby. 

But the biggest ecological attraction is without a doubt the La Mosquitia lowland rainforest, found in the north eastern region, where it lies in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve. Referred to as "The Last Lungs of Central America", this Reserve was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 1982.

 

Sports
A variety of activities can be practiced here. A very popular one is horseback riding through coffee plantations, corn and tobacco fields. Some excursions companies offer tours to the Maya ruins on horseback as well. There are many wonderful hiking trails waiting to be explored. Also gaining popularity isdeep sea fishing and bonefishing. Water lovers can enjoy sailing, sea kayaking, waterskiing, jet skiing, parasailing, and even floating on inflatable tubes down the mild rapids of the Copan River. There is great snorkeling and diving to be found here and many dive shops to go out with on the Bay Islands. 

Hondurans love football (soccer). The Federacion Nacional Autonoma de Futbol de Honduras runs the popular football league while the Honduras national football team represents the country internationally.

 

Other Useful Info

Banks & Money
US dollars and travellers checks are easily exchanged for Lempiras in banks, major hotels, airports and exchange houses. US dollars are accepted readily in tourist areas and the Bay Islands. 

In the larger cities, major credit cards are accepted in most restaurants, hotels and stores. ATMs can also be found in more populated areas and they can be used with debit or credit cards to withdraw money.

 

Climate

For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.

 

Communication
The country code in Honduras is 504. Local phone numbers are seven-digit numbers. The modern telecommunications services offer direct-dialing, long-distance, fax and internet access. Internet cafés can be found in the tourist spots, as well as in hotels. 

There is one weekly English newspaper, Honduras This Week, as well as six daily Spanish newspapers. Local radio stations and TV stations abound, as well as cable and satellite television.

 

Health
All big city hotels and restaurants use purified water for beverages, ice and cooking. But bottled water and beverages without ice is still a better idea. It is also best to avoid street food vendors, as tempting as it may be. 

Less frequented areas of Honduras may also be prone to Cholera, Chagas Disease, Polio, Dengue fever, Diphtheria and Malaria. If you plan an adventure trip, it may be a good idea to get inoculated. HIV & AIDS are a problem in Honduras so always be protected. 

There are several species of venomous snakes and insects, but they should not become a great fear. Just watch where you stick your hands, and shake out your clothes and shoes in the morning. Bug bites can be a nuisance so bring some insect repellent. 

There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines though are highly recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever.

 

Official Holidays
March/April – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter
April 14 – Pan-American Day
May 1 – Labour Day
September 15 – Independence Day
October – Americas Day
October 3 – Francisco Morazan Day
October – 21 Honduras Army Day
December 25 – Christmas Day

 

Safety

Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels and ensure that your lock hotel door or your rented car. Carry your wallet and camera discreetly.

 

Shopping
Honduras is definitely a great place to find wonderful handicrafts, particularly the Lenca ceramics, known for its strength, which is still made in the traditional way from pre-Colombian times. Other crafts include a variety of wood carving, woven basketry, embroidery, textiles and leatherwork

This country is also world famous for producing high quality cigars. The most sought after cigars are the Flor de Copan range from Santa Rosa de Copan, and the cigars from the Danli region. You can also bring home a bottle of local Guaro or Gifity Rum.

 

Taxes & Tips
The departure tax of around US $30, per person, must be paid when leaving the country. 

The government sales tax is 12%, and is charged on all goods and services. Some luxury goods have a higher tax. Many hotels and restaurants add on a 10% service charge. Check your bill before tipping as it may have already been included.

 

Transportation

Honduras has an extensive network of paved highways, which are generally considered the best roads in Central America. In more rural areas roads are generally unpaved. A variety of international rental car companies offer vehicles for traveling in Honduras. 

Taxis are available everywhere in major towns and are not metered, so negotiate the fare before getting in. Ferries offer transfers to the Bay Islands and local bus companies are a great way to travel between towns. Hitchhiking is common in rural areas when there is no proper bus connection.

 

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