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Dave and Jan's travels, day 263:

6th February
Time for a little break from ruin-watching. Northern Honduras consists mainly of the Mosquito Coast, impassable jungle and lots of mosquitos. We're not that intrepid, but the western end has a nice beach with palm trees and sun, which seems more like my kind of Caribbean. We passed a very leisurely few days on the beach, enjoying the sun, reading and sampling the stunning seafood. About the nearest thing to a fly in this particular ointment is the lack of a suitable hammock. The last day was rendered even more leisurely by the onset of a storm which led to 24 hours of rain and some serious winds. Judging by the actions of the locals, however, (walking the dog on the beach, going for a job) this was not a serious storm.

Not that Tela was all R & R. We took in visits to three illustriously named nature establishments: Parque Nacional Marino Punta Sal, Lancetilla Jardín Botánico and Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta Izopo.

We took a tour around Parque Nacional Marino Punta Sal with the local tour company, Garífuna tours. The Garífuna are the local people, descended from slaves imported by the English, and possessed of their own language, religion, music, dance and other cultural paraphenalia. In any case, the tour people ferried us up to the Parque where we took in a brief walk through the jungle, snorkelling over two different coral reefs, and some very yummy Garífuna seafood before heading back to town mid-afternoon. The highlight of the jungle walk was an encounter with some vociferous howler monkeys, who know all about the use of verbal intimidation.

Lancetilla Jardín Botánico was originally founded by United Fruit, who owned a goodly portion of Northern Honduras. The Jardín was their research station, and the original home of many species of banana and othe tropical fruit. These days the station has been bequeathed to the Honduran University, but it carries on growing and breeding obscure fruits. Our tour guide was friendly and informative, although sharing him with seventy school children did limit the detail into which he could go as we toured the arboretum.

Finally, the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta Izopo sits aboard a couple of rivers and thousands of tributaries which support a mangrove swamp and a vast variety of birds. Courtesy of Garífuna tours once more, we kayaked our way around the swamp. This was lovely: on previous trips into similar environments we've taken motorised boats, and travelling by kayak was so much quieter and had a slightly dreamlike quality. It also meant that we saw a lot more wildlife and were able to get a lot closer to it than otherwise.


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Parque Nacional Marino Punta Sal

Parque Nacional Marino Punta Sal

Refugio de Vida Silvestre Punta Izopo