Tegucigalpa to the northeast coast

The Carretera de Olancho runs from the capital northeast to the Caribbean coast. It passes through
Guaimaca
and
San Diego
,
Campamento
, 127 km, a small, friendly village surrounded by pine forests, and on to the Río Guayape, 143 km.

By the river crossing at
Los Limones
is an unpaved road north to
La Unión
(56 km), deep in the northern moutains passing through beautiful forests and lush green countryside. To the north is the
Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Muralla-Los Higuerales
, where quetzales and emerald toucanettes can be seen between March and May in the cloud forest. For those that have made the effort to get to this spot, if you're camping you may experience the frissonic pleasure of jaguars 'screaming' during the night. The park comprises the three peaks of La Muralla, 1981 m, Las Parras, 2064 m, and Los Higuerales, 1985 m. Cohdefor has an office on the main plaza for information, closed weekends. You are now required to take a guide with you on the trail. Cost is US$4, arrange in La Unión. Four trails range from 1-10 km and are recommended.

Juticalpa

The main road continues another 50 km from Los Limones to Juticalpa, the capital of Olancho department, in a rich agricultural area for herding cattle and growing cereals and sugar cane. There is a paved road northeast through the cattle land of Catacamas, continuing to just beyond Dulce Nombre de Culmí.

Catacamas and around

Catacamas lies at the foot of Agalta mountain in the Río Guayape valley in the Department of Olancho, 210 km from Tegucigalpa. The Río Guayape (named after an indigenous dress,
guayapis
) is famous for its gold nuggets.

The town was established by the Spaniards and the colonial church dates from the early 18th century. It is an agricultural and cattle-raising district. The National School of Agriculture (ENA) is based here, ask if you wish to visit their agricultural demonstration plots in the Guayape valley, 5 km south of the town.

Hiking in the mountains behind Catacamas is beautiful. From Murmullo there are trails to coffee farms.
Río Talgua
, 4 km east of Catacamas, is interesting with caves in which significant pre-Columbian remains have been found. The area and caves are worth a visit. Hiking to
El Boquerón
, stop off at the main road near Punuare, 17 km west of Catacamas, and walk up
Río Olancho
, which has nice limestone cliffs and a pretty river canyon. Through much of the canyon the stream flows underground.

Beyond Catacamas, a rough road continues northeast up the Río Tinto Valley to
Dulce Nombre de Culmí
. Further on is
Paya
where the road becomes a mule track but, in three to four days in the dry season, a route can be made over the divide (Cerro de Will) and down the Río Paulaya to Mosquitia . Local police say that there is a path in the dry season from Dulce Nombre to San Esteban (about 30 km).

Juticalpa to Trujillo

There is a fine scenic road from Juticalpa to Trujillo. From Juticalpa head northeast and turn left where the paved road ends, to
San Francisco de la Paz
. Beyond San Francisco is
Gualaco
, which has an interesting colonial church (there are several places to stay).

The town of
San Esteban
is 23 km from Gualaco. On the way you pass Agalta mountain, and some of the highest points in Honduras, and several waterfalls on the Río Babilonia.

After San Esteban the road continues to
Bonito Oriental
(via El Carbón, a mahogany collection point with the Paya communities in the vicinity). There are four hotels here. The final 38 km from Bonito Oriental to Trujillo are paved, through Corocito. There are many dirt roads between San Francisco and Trujillo. If driving, ask directions if in any doubt. Fuel is available in the larger villages but there is none between San Esteban and Bonito Oriental.

Parque Nacional Sierra de Agalta

Between the roads Juticalpa-Gualaco-San Esteban and Juticalpa-Catacamas-Dulce Nombre de Culmí lies the cloud forest of the Parque Nacional Sierra de Agalta, extending over 1200 ha and reaching a height of 2590 m at
Monte de Babilonia
, a massif with a number of interesting mountains. Several different ecosystems have been found with a wide variety of fauna and flora: 200 species of bird have been identified so far. There are several points of entry. There is no infrastructure in the park, but a base camp is being built. A good trail leads to
La Picucha
mountain (2354 m). There are two campsites on the trail, the first at 1060m is just short of
La Chorrera
waterfall, which has a colony of white-collared swifts that nest in the cave behind the falls. Four to six hours above is the second campsite at 1900 m. The final section is mainly dwarf forest with low undergrowth on the summit. There is much wildlife to be seen and a good viewpoint 1 km beyond at the site of two abandoned radio towers. Hiking time is two days.

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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