Marcala and around

From La Esperanza, an unpaved road runs southeast to Marcala in the Department of La Paz (a paved road goes to La Paz). During the hotter months from March to May, a cooler climate can be found in the highlands of La Paz, with pleasant temperatures during the day and cold (depending on altitude) at night. Ideal for hiking and with beautiful scenery and dramatic waterfalls in the surrounding area, Marcala is a good base from which to visit Yarula, Santa Elena, Opatoro, San José and Guajiquiro. The Marcala region is one of the finest coffee-producing areas of Honduras and a visit to
Comarca
, at the entrance to town, gives an idea of how coffee is processed. Semana Santa is celebrated with a large procession through the main street and there is a
fiesta
in honour of San Miguel Arcángel in the last week of September.

Around Marcala

Near Marcala is Balneario
El Manzanal
, 3 km on the road to La Esperanza; it has a restaurant, two swimming pools and a boating lake, open weekends only.

There are caves nearby on
Musula
mountain, the Cueva de las Animas in Guamizales and Cueva de El Gigante and El León near La Estanzuela with a high waterfall close by. Other waterfalls are El Chiflador, 67 m high, Las Golondrinas, La Chorrera and Santa Rosita. Transport goes to La Florida where there is good walking to the village of
Opatoro
and climbing
Cerro Guajiquiro
. Between Opatoro and Guajiquiro is the
Reserva las Trancas
, a heavily forested mountain where quetzales have been seen.

Yarula
and
Santa Elena
are two tiny municipalities, the latter about 40 km from Marcala, with beautiful views. Sometimes meals are available at
comedores
in Yarula and Santa Elena. The dirt road from Marcala gradually deteriorates, the last 20 km being terrible, high clearance essential, 4WD recommended. In
La Cueva Pintada
, south of Santa Elena, there are pre-Columbian cave paintings (
pinturas rupestres
) of snakes, men and dogs; ask for a guide in Santa Elena. Ask also in this village about the
Danza de los Negritos
, performed at the annual
fiesta
of Santiago, 24-25 March, in front of the church. A special performance may be organized, the dancers wearing their old wooden masks, if suitable payment is offered.

The village of
San José
(altitude: 1700 m) is a Lenca community where the climate can be cool and windy even in the hottest months. The scenery is superb. Good hill walking ( there are many others), also rivers for swimming.

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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