The rugged Nombre de Dios Mountains provide the perfect setting for outstanding hiking in Pico Bonito National Park.
The park is the second largest in the Honduran National Park System, and there are different options for you to enjoy. Pico Bonito National Park is very close to the city of La Ceiba, and although access to the park itself can be difficult, there are two different areas with trails that are easy to get to.
The first of these areas is around the community of El Pino, in the neighboring municipality of El Porvenir, located about 6 miles (10 km) west of the Goloson International Airport in La Ceiba. This is the area where the famous Lodge at Pico Bonito is located. The Lodge has a great network of trails within its property that access the park, but they are of course private, so they are available only to their guests or to tourists that buy a tour at the Lodge. Their tours are well worth while, especially if you are into birding, since they have a couple of observation towers that will allow you to climb up to the same level as the forest canopy. The tour includes bilingual guides as well as lunch at the hotel. Please note that reservations are a must, and that guests arriving for a tour without a reservation will not be allowed into the premises! Nearby, you will find the Zacate River Trail, access is via the pineapple plantations that belong to Dole. This was the first trail open to tourists, the destination is a lovely, spectacular waterfall known as the Zacate Waterfall. Please note that the first part of the trail is quite steep, so take your time as you hike up the mountain. Eventually you will arrive at a fairly flat plateau where hiking will be a lot easier. Allow at least one hour to get to the waterfall. Once you are back to the bottom of the mountain, you might want to take a refreshing dip in the natural pools, there are also some limited facilities, including toilets in this area. Since access is not clearly marked, it is not a good idea to go hiking on this trail on your own. The following tour operators offer tours to the Zacate River Trail: Garifuna Tours and Tela Dive Center have tours departing from Tela to this Trail. From La Ceiba, you can hire Reservaciones La Ceiba or Tourist Options.
The second, and possibly the most popular area to do hiking in Pico Bonito National Park is the Cangrejal River Valley. This is actually the far eastern end of the park, and is the easiest to access, because there is a road that follows the river up into the Nombre de Dios Mountains. This area is actually dotted with lovely small lodges, bed and breakfasts and hostels. There are also many different activities available in the Cangrejal River Valley. Access to the trails is via a 400 foot long “Indiana Jones” type swing bridge, which brings you across the river and into the Park. Here the longest hike is following the “El Mapache” (the raccoon) trail to the El Bejuco Waterfall, which is clearly visible from the road and from the hanging bridge. The hike up to the waterfall and back can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on how fast you walk and if you actually go as far as the waterfall. Although you can take hike on your own in this trail, it is always a good idea to have a guide with you. You can arrange a tour with Omega Tours, La Moskitia Ecoaventuras, Cangrejal Tours, Jungle River Tours and Reservaciones La Ceiba.
Another option for hiking in Pico Bonito National Park can be found a few kilometers past the visitors’ center in the Cangrejal River, at the village of Las Mangas. Here a nice, very easy trail known as the Guaruma Trail, which is maintained by community kids, provides access for older persons or families with young kids that want to experience the tropical rain forests by hiking in Pico Bonito National Park. You can arrange for a tour in this trail by contacting Cangrejal Tours or Reservaciones La Ceiba.
As you see, there are many different options to do hiking in Pico Bonito National Park!