Named after a jagged green 2,436m (7,990-ft.) mountain just south of La Ceiba, Pico Bonito national park is central to La Ceiba's eco-future. Outside of boasting one of the top nature lodges in the world, the more than 100,000-hectare (24,700-acre) park ranges in altitude from sea level to more than 2,000m (6,500 ft.), which results in seven different ecosystems and an extremely high level of biodiversity. While much of the park is off-limits and remains unexplored, there are large tracts of nearly virgin rainforest, cloud forest, waterfalls, rivers, and crystalline pools to explore. Bird life includes more than 400 bird species such as toucans, trogons, motmots, and hummingbirds, while mammals spotted here include jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, pumas, deer, and white faced and spider monkeys, as well as hundreds of species of reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies.
There are several entrances into Pico Bonito and a few different ways to see the park; fortunately, access is getting easier. The most common entry point is through Pico Bonito Lodge. It used to be that you had to be a guest to access their trails; however, guided tours ($30/£15 per person) for nonguests have recently been established that include lunch at the lodge. Their private trails have the best infrastructure and contain several bird-watching towers, well-marked stone paths, and a swimming hole on the Coloradito River. You must make reservations in advance with the lodge.
In the town of El Pino, 19km (12 miles) west of La Ceiba, next door to the lodge and just past the Quebrada Seca Bridge, there is another entrance, which most tour operators in La Ceiba use. Here you will find the 2.5km (1.5-mile) Zacate River Trail, which passes a few nice swimming holes and ends at the Cascada Zacate. The El Pino Tourist Committee (tel. 504/386-9878) arranges guided hikes on the trail for $26 (£13) per person including the $6 (£3) park admission fee. Alternatively, just hop on any Tela or San Pedro Sula-bound bus and ask to be let off at El Pino.
Recently, a trail has opened on the eastern border of the park, on the Río Cangrejal side, at Km 8.8 on the La Ceiba-Yaruca highway near the town of Las Mangas. A Yaruca-bound bus will let you off here, or a taxi should be about L250 to L285 ($13-$15/£6.50-£7.50). This entrance is more commonly used by tour operators leading white-water rafting tours on the river, but is increasingly being used by hikers as well. There is just one main trail that shouldn't take more than 2 to 3 hours each way. It begins with a hanging bridge over the river and extends to the 60m (197-ft.) Cascada El Bejuco, as well as a couple of smaller waterfalls.
The nonprofit community organization Guaruma (tel. 504/406-6782; ww.guaruma.org) has two different guided hikes in the park, led by trained young locals: the 2-hour (L60/$3/£1.50 per person) Guarama trail and the 4-hour (L120/$6/£3 per person) La Muralla trail. Reservations should be made a few days in advance. Jungle River Tours (tel. 504/440-1268; www.jungleriverlodge.com) also runs guided hikes here that include a free night at their Jungle River Lodge.
- © Frommer's 2013
Ask a local about Parque Nacional Pico BonitoLocals have answered 5 questions about La Ceiba.
Ask La Ceiba Locals about Parque Nacional Pico Bonito
- Very Highly Recommended 2010
- La Ceiba
- La Ceiba
- No Sweat
- User Rating