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A Ride Along Idyllic Caribbean Beaches, Across Mountain Ranges To Spectacular Mayan Ruins

Article contributed by: Turtle Tours

Honduras is in Central America and has common borders with Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, and is between the Atlantic (Caribbean ) and Pacific Oceans. When the Spanish arrived in 1502 the area was inhabited by indigenous tribes and in the 1600s the British pirates, including Captain Morgan, settled in the Bay Islands and raided Spanish ports as far away as Panama. Honduras is a land of contrasts, with cool mountainous interior and a long warm Caribbean coastline - ideal for trial bike riding.
In early April seven of us flew through New Orleans on to La Ceiba, a small town on the north coast of Honduras. Our first night was right on the beach at an old but comfortable hotel, where we sampled the local beers. That night the Garifunas- a mixture of the descendants of African slaves and Caribbean Indians - where celebrating the anniverary of the arrival in 1997, when they were transported by the British from St. Vincente in the Caribbean.
The next day Paul, our tour leader and his assistant Daniel, who looked after the mechanics, handed over the DR350s and XT350s. Mine was a '96 model with only 6000ks on the clock. As we had a back up vehicle we only needed a small backpack to carry cameras, water bottle and light jackets. As this was now our 17th annual bike trip, we had learned to wear body armour. We headed up the Pico Bonito Mountains into an amazingly green canon surrounded by tropical jungle. We were soon on a dirt track winding along the Rio Cangrejal with spectacular views of the valley below, a waterfall plunging more than 300 feet, and rapids sliding around sculptured granite boulders.
The next day we headed east along the Caribbean coast. At 3pm we arrived at the town of Trujillo, where in 1502 Christopher Columbus first set foot on the American mainland, and the pirate William Walker was captured, executed and buried. Home for the next two nights was "Villa Brinkley", an enormous 1930s style resort with 3 swimming pools, many entertaining areas and only 16 rooms. It was owned by an eccentric 83 year old woman who was always making new additions. Next day we rode out past the Garifuna huts and villages of San Antonio and Guadelupe, crossing the Rio Grande and several other rivers and streams. The road the turned into a donkey track through lush jungle, emerging onto a beautiful beach enclosed by a reef. Here we found the remains of an enormous three story hacienda, long abandoned. It's lush lawns running down to the beach were now grazed by stray cattle. We stopped for lunch in Santa Fe at the Comedor Caballero, a basic hut on the beach. The food was fantastic and the Senor Peter Caballero is thought by many to be the best cook in Honduras. We left the coast to climb the towering Sierra de Agalta mountains ( 2400m) up a twisting dirt road through pine forest to reach the valley of Olancho - Honduras largest cattle farming area.One aspect of the trip really appreciated by the less mechanical types like myself was the efficient mechanical service provided by Daniel. At the end of each day he checked the bikes, adjusting and oiling the chains, checking oil and tire pressure, brakes etc. Paul on the other hand was a mine of information about the local culture, the history and other items of interest.

La Esperanza, a quiet colonial town with a Lenca Indian market, was our next stop and the temperature was now decidedlycool. Back on the dirt we passed Hopnduras' highest mountains, Montanas de Celac ( 2800m) with fantastic views over the ranges.After visiting one of the many coffe and tobacco plantations we visited the hot springs near Macala. The springs were a perfect 38 degrees centigrade and did a good job of washing off the dust and easing aching limbs.

After lunch in Gracias, an attractive mountain town, we headed off to Santa Rosa de Copan, a beautiful little town with cobblestone streets and buildings with red roof tiles, and visited a factory making hand rolled cigars.

Next day took us to Copan Ruinas, the home of the best preserved Mayan ruins in the Americas, with its ballcourt, hieroglyphic stairways, the acropolis and newly built museum. We visited the ruins beeing most impressed by the ballgame where the leader of the winning team was decapitated and thus allowed to go to a greater life. Another highlight was Lago de Yohoa, a large freshwater lake, where we stayed at a quaint resort on its shores and feasted on fish, washed down by many cervezas. An early morning excursion took us to Pulhapanzak Falls with it's magnificent 40m cascadeon the Rio Lindo. Another destination was along a sand track to the caribbean coastal village of Tournabe, an isolated Garifuna village surrounded by a lagoon and framed by palmtrees. Our beach front hotel was appropriately called the "Last Resort" . The ridinmg highlight of the whole trip was the scenic ride along a sand track, with the beautiful Caribbean beaches on one side framed by palmtrees and a beautiful lagoon on the other, the "Laguna de los Micos". This was the entrance to the "Punta Sal" National Park, created to protect rare and endangered animals like the white faced monkey, ocelot and manatee. We all then raced back to the hotel, feeling really relaxed. There were numerous "offs" in the soft sand, particulary by Wayne who came off at least three times. At the Last Resort Hotel we were served freshly cut, whole coconuts with the top lopped off and filled with rum. I drank so many of these that I don't even remember giving the "thank you and goodbye" speech at the dinner that followed. An early morning swim cleared the head before we headed to La Ceiba aiport and said our farewells to Paul and Daniel.
After a short flight we reached the Bay Islands, a very laid back paradise with the second largest barrier reef in the world. The next three days were idyllic, spent walking along the numerous beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving and generally relaxing. In short, if you want an adventure but don't have the time to spend month planning and organizing your itinerary and bikes, you will find "Turtle Tours" will take away all the hassles and supply a great adventure with a group of like minded people