Zipping Through the Jungle Canopy

Published: October 25th 2009
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We caught the early ferry leaving Utila at 6:20 am on Thursday, October 8th, to La Ceiba on mainland Honduras. We had spent the last few days trying to figure out what our next move would be and decided to head for the jungle to do a tour or two. We played around with the idea of going to La Moskito, but after being tortured by mosquitos for the last week, the last place I wanted to be was to a place called La Moskito, even though the place was named for the people who lived there and not the insect (but there´s definitely plenty of the insects living there). In seriousness, due to lack of transportation infrastructure of the area, we would have needed to join a tour and they were quite expensive, transportation slow, and requires at least a week of exploration for it to be worth the trip into the heart of mosquitoland. Plus there´s all the mosquitos at the height of their breeding season. So instead we opted for a shorter stint in the jungle and signed up for a canopy tour at the Jungle River Lodge. The owner also owns a hostel in downtown La Ceiba, and tours include pickup and dropoff from their hostel. We got to the hostel right on time at 8 am from the ferry terminal, and they were ready to pick us up and drive us to the Jungle River Lodge, which was situated adjacent to Rio Cangrejal and Pico Bonito, a national park and cloud forest half an hour away from La Ceiba.

The lodge was nice but rustic, but we had gotten lucky in that they were currently running a promotion for their tours with one night lodging included in the tour. We have never done a zip line before and decided to do their canopy zip line tour. The canopy zip line tour consisted of a course of 8 lines running through the jungle, with the last one going over the river. Our tour guides were Juan and Angel. Juan was a Garifuna who grew up in a jungle village of the Mosquito region, and thus very knowledgeable about the jungle. During the tour, we had a small walk/hike through the jungle where Juan introduced to termites (which tastes like carrots - yes, both George and I tried some - and can be used as 24 hr insect repellent), leaf cutter ants (soldiers can be used as sutures/ stitches), the wildtype banana (with lots of seeds and should only be eaten as a laxative), and some very poisonous plants (mushrooms, the javelin plant, one with milky poison in its sap, etc), along with medicinal ones (quinine used against malaria).

There were 8 zip lines on our tour, two over the river and another 6 through the forest. It was our first time ever on a zip line, but it is fairly easy to do and lots of fun. The last one, their longest, got our adrenalin running quite high as we zoomed between trees and over the Rio Cangrejal.

We were exhausted pretty exhausted when we got back. We rested for the rest of the afternoon followed by a refreshing swim in the river. That evening we enjoyed a pasta dinner made with fresh herbs from the lodge´s garden in their dining room overlooking the river below. After dinner, the Swedish bartender there introduced us to guifiti, a Garifuna drink made of rum infused with local herbs. I wasn´t crazy about it but George wanted to buy the herbs to make our own guifiti at home. I convinced him otherwise as it wouldn´t be practical and they could easily be mistaken by immigration/customs as something less innocuous that could get us into deep trouble if misunderstood.

We enjoyed a surprisingly cool sleep that night - the jungle was a lot more temperate than the island of Utila, and even had fewer mosquitos! We arose early the next morning to enjoy breakfast watching a scarlet macaw sitting among the trees before heading back to La Ceiba and onto to our next destination, Lago de Yojoa.

Additional photos below
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Red coffee beansRed coffee beans
Red coffee beans

They are ready to pick when turned dark brown

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