East of San Pedro Sula

Tela

Tela used to be an important banana port before the pier was partly destroyed by fire. Easily reached from San Pedro Sula with a bus service via El Progreso, it is pleasantly laid out with a sandy but dirty beach. Tela Viejo to the east is the original city joined by a bridge to Tela Nuevo, the residential area built for the executives of the American banana and farming company
Chiquita
. There is a pleasant walk along the beach east to Ensenada, or west to San Juan. More information is available at www.tela-honduras.com.

Around Tela

Local buses and trucks from the corner just east of the market go east to the Garífuna village of
Triunfo de la Cruz
, which is set in a beautiful bay. Site of the first Spanish settlement on the mainland, a sea battle between Cristóbal de Olid and Francisco de Las Casas (two of Cortés' lieutenants) was fought here in 1524.

Beyond Triunfo de la Cruz is an interesting coastal area that includes the cape,
Parque Nacional Punta Izopo
(1½-hour walk along the beach, take water - 12 km from Tela) and the mouth of the Río Leán. This, and its immediate hinterland, are a good place to see parrots, toucans, turtles, alligators and monkeys as well as the first landing point of the Spanish conqueror Cristóbal de Olid. For information contact
Prolansate
. To get right into the forest and enjoy the wildlife, it is best to take an organized tour. A trip to Punta Izopo involves kayaking through mangrove swamps up the Río Plátano, Indiana Jones style.

Further northwest, along palm-fringed beaches is
Parque Nacional Punta Sal 'Jeannette Kawas'
, contact
Prolansate
for information, a lovely place now protected within the park's 80,000-ha boundaries. It is one of the most important parks in Honduras and has two parts, the peninsula and the lagoon. During the dry season some 350 species of bird live within the lagoon, surrounded by forest, mangroves and wetlands. Once inhabited only by Garífuna, the area has suffered from the immigration of cattle farmers who have cleared the forest, causing erosion, and from a palm oil extraction plant on the Río San Alejo, which has dumped waste in the river and contaminated the lagoons. Conservation and environmental protection programmes are now underway.

Jardín Botánico at Lancetilla
,
not well signposted - a guide is recommended - was founded (in 1926) as a plant research station. Now, it is the second largest botanical garden in the world. It has more than 1000 varieties of plant and over 200 bird species have been identified. It has fruit trees from every continent, the most extensive collection of Asiatic fruit trees in the western hemisphere, an orchid garden, and plantations of mahogany and teak alongside a 1200-ha virgin tropical rainforest. But be warned, there are many mosquitoes.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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