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My Whopping 5-Day Travels in Honduras

church in Tegucigalpas - Honduras

church in Tegucigalpas – Honduras

My Whopping 5-Day Travels in Honduras

It looks like Honduras will go down in my travel life history as one of my quickest country visits and my least favorite country in Central America. I lasted a whopping five days there.

In truth, I even wanted to leave one day earlier, making it a whopping four-day visit, but the bus to Nicaragua was full. Ugh. So I was ‘stuck’ in Honduras one day longer than I wanted.

Obviously I didn’t like Honduras very much.

But before I get into why I was ready to make a bee-line out asap, let me clarify a few things…

First of all, Honduras wasn’t horrible or scary. I didn’t have any awful incidents, nor did I feel in danger in any way, anywhere. But it certainly wasn’t great or even nice.

Furthermore, to be fair to Honduras and any travelers thinking to visit, I also want to make it clear that I did not visit any of the country’s most popular, much-acclaimed destinations: the Mayan ruins of Coban near the border of Guatemala nor the tropical Caribbean islands of Roatan & Utila.

I’m quite sure Honduras’ star attractions are wonderful destinations and well-set-up for international budget travelers. In fact, I’ve met many travelers who told me they loved Honduras (aka those particular places).

colorful museum block in Tegucigalpa

colorful museum block in Tegucigalpa

So why didn’t I go to those places and have myself an equally amazing time in the country?

First of all, those places are all located on/near Honduras’s northern Caribbean coast. In contrast, I was passing through Honduras from El Salvador and then on to Nicaragua. All the border crossings are near the three countries’ southern Pacific coasts.

I really didn’t want to veer way off my travel route to visit either Coban or the islands. As for Coban, I’d already seen enough Mayan ruins for my lifetime. And as for the world-acclaimed diving islands of Roatan & Utila, they seemed both way over-touristed and expensive for my tastes.

I do love tropical islands and diving, of course. But I’ve visited so many fantastic tropical islands that I just can’t get enthused about any that are over-crowded and/or party oriented. No thanks, I prefer to find more remote, undeveloped tropical islands to visit, thank you very much.

Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa

So being that I was only visiting southern Honduras and skipping its most popular traveler’s destinations, I headed to the capital city of Tegucigalpa, planning to stay in the country about 7-10 days. I planned to visit museums and galleries in the city, a tropical jungle park near the city, a couple colonial towns, possibly an inland lake and possibly a volcanic island in the southern Gulf of Fonseca.

Which brings me to the third ‘warning’ point about my trip to Honduras: Tegucigalpa is probably the least recommended destination in the entire country. Most travelers probably wouldn’t like it much. It’s a sprawling, decrepit, ghetto-like city with very few attractions or remaining colonial architecture. So I didn’t exactly see Honduras’ best side.

All that having been said, I still have several valid reasons why I didn’t particularly like Honduras (and which I’m assuming would probably would be true in other parts of the country as well).

great exhibitions on the history of Honduras at the Museum of Honduras

great exhibitions on the history of Honduras at the Museum of Honduras

Crappy and expensive Food

Food in Honduras is expensive, of poor quality, not very easy to find and offers little variety. Fast food chain restaurants are the most common, obvious places to eat.

Local ‘comedors’ (small local restaurants) are hard to come by and are pretty expensive – double to triple the price of local meals in neighboring El Salvador, Nicaragua and nearby Mexico.

In Honduras, I found that meals at most comedors and fast food restaurants average about $3-5 US. Many are higher. In comparison, in El Salvador I regularly ate breakfasts for $1 US, lunches and dinners for about $2 US. In Mexico I generally ate nearly every meal for $1-2 US.

In Tegucigalpa, when I discovered that it was so hard to find good quality, inexpensive food, I headed to the super market, thinking it would be better to cook my own meals. There I discovered insanely expensive produce and merchandise. It was all equivalent to US prices or even double US prices!

Fruit, vegetables and meats were all US prices. But import products were 2-3 times US prices. I found Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream for nearly $10 per pint! A loaf of processed bread for $8 US! Philadelphia Cream Cheese cost $4 US. Other regular cheeses cost 2-3 times their US prices. A single container of Yoplait Yogurt cost $2-3 US. It was phenomenal.

Local Hondurans acknowledged that super markets are expensive and told me that produce at local markets is much cheaper. Perhaps. But the fruit & vegetable street vendors I spoke to had the same prices as the super markets.

In any event, super markets in EL Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua sell the exact same merchandise for below US prices. Local markets & street vendors in those countries offer extremely inexpensive produce and comedors are plentiful, inexpensive and offer great variety of meals.

I honestly wonder how Hondurans can afford to even eat!

My thoughts on all that is: Why would I want to travel around a country where it’s so difficult and expensive to eat well when I can just cross the border in either direction and eat easily, inexpensively and with lots of variety?

cute cafe in Valle de Angeles

cute cafe in Valle de Angeles

Difficulty getting places by public transport

I found it quite difficult getting to places, even major places, by public buses in Honduras. That is in great contrast to neighboring countries like El Salvador and Mexico.

In Honduras, in many cases buses don’t run very frequently to major destinations and in some cases reaching a major destination requires taking several buses, rather than just one. Other travelers I met in Tegucigalpa had the same experiences.

Here are three examples:

Comayagua is a small, famous colonial city in the mountains about two hours northwest of Tegus by bus. One travel pal set out to make a day trip there from Tegus. He finally gave up because the buses were too infrequent.

colonial building in Valle de Angeles

colonial building in Valle de Angeles

National Park La Tigra is situated just north of Tegus. According to the hostel staff, it was a 40 minute bus ride from the city. I set out early one morning to visit. After walking through the city 20 minutes to the catch the correct bus, I found out that only 3 buses per morning head up to La Tigra. I had a 40-minute wait for the next, and final morning bus. Then the bus took, not 40 minutes, but a full 1 ½ hours to reach the end of its route.

BUT it did NOT go to the park entrance! From there, I was told by the bus driver that it was a 10-minute walk up the steep road to the park. I set out…and 20 minutes later, with no park entrance in sight, I gave up and headed back to the bus since there were only two afternoon buses back to the city. I could tell the hike up to the park was much, much further.

In the end, I spent five hours of my day walking and sitting on crowded buses to for nothing.

Two other travelers had exactly the same experience trying to reach La Tigra. Except they actually walked all the way from the bus up to the park entrance. IT took them one entire hour. But they had no time to visit the park since the last bus of the day was heading back to the city within two hours. So they also skipped the park.

Lake Yojoa is a small lake situated in the mountains about three hours northwest of Tegus, one hour from Comayagua. However, to get there by public bus, you apparently have to take three separate buses. From Tegus a bus goes to the main town serving the lake. From there it takes two more buses to reach the lake shore. Sounds like a full day journey to me.

I had wanted to visit all three destinations in Honduras. But after discovering how difficult and time-consuming they were to reach, I gave up on all of them.

Hondurans seem to get irritated or angry quickly

During my brief 5-day visit in Honduras I had three separate incidents of shop attendants getting irritated or angry at me for minor issues about me asking prices. One lady got pissed off and cussed me out simply because I didn’t buy her fried yucca after asking the price!

In all my two years of travels in Mexico and C. American countries to date, I have not encountered people who get angry so easily, and certainly not with customers. So my experiences in Honduras really stood out as being quite different.

Other travelers I knew in Tegus had the same experiences.

great rooftop terrace of my hostel in Tegus - Honduras

great rooftop terrace of my hostel in Tegus – Honduras

Expensive Accommodation

Aside from a couple great hostels in Tegucigalpa, hostels are sorely lacking in other destinations in the country. (excluding the major tourist destinations in the north – Coban and the islands)

I actually had planned to go stay in several other places in Honduras besides Tegus – the colonial towns of Comayagua and Valle de Angeles, the southern Pacific island of El Tigre and Lake Yojoa. I researched them all online as well as asking locals after I arrived in Tegus. Apparently no hostels exist.

There are budget hotel choices in all those places with rates at about 400-450 lempiras / $20-25 US, which are great rates for couples or two-somes traveling together, and for mid-range travelers. But for solo budget travelers that’s expensive.

As far as I could discover, places in Honduras just aren’t set up for solo budget travelers.

military event in Tegucigalpa - Honduras

military event in Tegucigalpa – Honduras

What I did do during my 5 days in Honduras

Despite the annoyances and difficulties, I did quite a few enjoyable things during my short stay in Honduras, all while staying at a great little hostel in the upscale embassy district of Tegucigalpa.

– Visited the city’s main plaza, two great museums and two large churches in Tegus

– Stumbled upon an interesting military event at the city’s main plaza

– Made a half-day trip to Valle de Angeles colonial town

– Attempted to visit La Tigra National Park

– Spent a day at my groovy hostel (actually my best day in the country!)

– Bought expensive groceries and cooked most of my meals

Cathedral in Tegus

Cathedral in Tegus

Summary

Overall, in my brief experience, I’d say that Honduras offers quite poor value for money. It has crappy food, has inconvenient public transportation, and is not set up for solo budget travelers outside the major tourist destinations in the far north.

Like I said at the beginning, Honduras wasn’t horrible or dangerous. And I did find several interesting, worthwhile things to do for a few days. But I was certainly mighty happy to leave.

Perhaps one day I’ll return to check out the famed islands of Utila and Roatan…I’d be curious to see what my impressions of Honduras would be then.

Meanwhile, you might also find the following posts useful:

My Introduction to El Salvador

13 Surprising Facts About Guatemala

14 Things I Love About Belize

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