In the last decade or so, Honduras has become known as a Mecca for ecotourism. Much of the
country is covered by rain forests and several biosphere
reserves have been set up to protect these areas of natural
beauty. The largest and most magnificent is the Rio Platano
Biosphere Reserve in eastern Honduras.
Thousands of unique species of plants and animals thrive within the protected boundaries of the Honduran biosphere reserves. Illegal logging, poorly planned agriculture, and bad resource management threatens Rio Platano Honduras and other biosphere reserves, but these parks remain highlights of Central American travel.
Located in La Moskita rain forest, which covers much of eastern Honduras and western Nicaragua, the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.
Central American travel to Rio Platano Honduras is not cheap or easy, but it is well worth the journey. From La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa, several Honduran airlines offer flights into Palacios. From there, you must make your way along the Mosquito Coast by boat or plane to Rais Ta. To get to the heart of the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, take a five-hour boat ride into Las Marias from Rais Ta. A round-trip ride is about $200 a boat, so it is best to split the cost with a group. If your Spanish is shaky, you would be well-advised to go to Las Marias with a Central American travel group. Several companies offer tours from La Ceiba.
Once you arrive in Rio Platano Honduras, local guides will greet you and determine what kind of tour you want to take. There are several choices, ranging from strenuous jungle hikes to an easy boat ride. The best tour is also the most difficult: a three-day trip to Pico Dama mountain. This is the best hike if you want to see local Honduran animals, but all the tours offer great views of the forest. Start off early if you want to see more birds and animals, even they retreat in the midday heat.
The best time for Central American travel to Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve is from February to July. The best months for bird watching are February, March, and April. It's best to avoid the rainy season: November through January. Remember to bring sunscreen, bug-repellent, malaria pills, toilet paper, and fresh water: these necessities are hard to find in the reserve.
Rio Platano Honduras and the other Honduran biosphere reserves offer a glimpse at one of the world's best-preserved primary rain forests and make a great trip on any Honduras vacation.