Directly south of La Ceiba, the Cordillera Nombre de Dios shelters the Parque Nacional Pico Bonito, a remote expanse of tropical broadleaf forest, cloudforest and – in its southern reaches, above the Río Aguan valley – pine forest. Taking its name from the awe-inspiring bulk of Pico Bonito (2435m), the park is the source of twenty rivers, including the Zacate, Bonito and Cangrejal, which cascade majestically down the mountains’ steep, thickly tree-covered slopes. The park also provides sanctuary for an abundance of wildlife, including armadillos, howler and spider monkeys, pumas and ocelots. The lower fringes are the most easily accessible, with a few trails laid out through the dense greenery.
The easiest way to get into the park is to enter via the luxury Lodge at Pico Bonito, a world-class jungle lodge with bungalow accommodation, gourmet cuisine, a pool and a sublime setting in the foothills of the forest reserve. Trails from the lodge snake up through the tree cover to a lookout from where Utila is visible, and down to beautiful river bathing pools. You don’t have to be a guest at the lodge to access the park and trails, but you will have to pay a US$33 fee, which includes lunch and a guide.
The Río Cangrejal, which forms the eastern boundary of the park, boasts some of the best rapids in Central America; whitewater rafting and kayaking trips are organized by tour companies. There are also some magnificent swimming spots, backed by gorgeous mountain scenery, along the river valley.