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OMOA

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Informacion General

Located west of Puerto Cortes, on the highway leading from Puerto Cortes. Omoa is one of the oldest towns in Honduras and played an important role in the history of Honduras, especially during the colonial times. The paved highway leads west towards the town of Tegucigalpita, a village located only a few miles from the Guatemala border. This area of the country is of stunning beauty thanks to the impressive Merendon mountain range that serves as a backbone to this part of the cost. Along the road, you will pass the town of Omoa, where the Spaniards built the massive fortress of San Fernando de Omoa centuries ago. Its purpose, to protect the coast and shipments of silver bound from the mines of Tegucigalpa to Spain from the continuous attacks of the British pirates. In effect, by the time it was finished, the pirates were a thing of the past. This structure is of such importance, that you would have to travel south as far as Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, or north as far as Campeche, in the Gulf of Mexico to find another fortress of equal importance.

After the independence of Honduras in 1821, the fortress was taken over by the local government, and was used for many years as a jail, and was later abandoned. Today, the fortress is considered a National Monument and is open to the public. The Honduran Institute of Archaeology and History is in charge of its maintenance. The fort, a mute testimony of Honduras colonial past, with its green gardens, humid rooms and massive walls will no doubt make your fantasies take you to a time in the past, when pirates still roamed the Caribbean Sea. The fortress is open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. There is a small entrance fee charged on premises. You can purchase guide books or hire a guide if you wish.
Omoa is slowly, but surely becoming an interesting stop for the backpacker and budget traveler crowd. There are now several restaurants as well as some small hotels and several hostels in the area. For food, check out Donde Pancha, a very local restaurant where the owner (yes, you guessed correctly, here name is Pancha) will personally cook you a meal. Her specialty is fresh fish and seafood. El Botin Suizo, owned by Ulrich Lang, a Swiss, who is probably more Honduran than Swiss by now offers good food and a full bar service and is located right on the beach. The "newest kid on the block" is the hotel and Restaurant Flamingo, located right on the beach. An extensive concrete deck overlooking the Bay of Omoa offers outstanding seafood and is without doubt one of the best restaurants in Omoa. They also feature the best beachfront rooms in Omoa. Los Cayuquitos is located on the right hand side of the pier. They have good food and prices and their service is very friendly. Rio Coto in Omoa is a branch of the famous Rio Coto Restaurant located in Rio Coto, a few miles down the road from Omoa in the direction of Guatemala. They have very good food, a complete bar and are probably the best restaurant in Omoa. Macarela, the second last restaurant on the beach road towards the east has great food and good prices. Silvia, the owner speaks English. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. Last, but not least, El Paraiso de Stanley has become very much a gringo hangout. This is a great spot for cold beers, local gossip and information spot. Open everyday until the last client is gone. Tours are available within the area, and of course, if you are staying here, you must visit the fortress. There are some very pleasant waterfalls nearby. These are only 45 minutes away. In addition to their natural beauty, they have some very pleasant swimming holes where you can refresh yourself from the hike. Your best sources of information are Ulrich at Botin del Suizo or Roli's at Roli`s Place ( 80 meters from the beach ) Roli has free maps from the area including the information you need to go to Guatemala. @ Roli`s Place there is now a small internet café where you can check your mails or surf the net.

There are several places to stay in Omoa. The best budget place to stay in Omoa is Roli's Place, run by Swiss national Roland Gassman. Roli has a large shaded and grassy compound with room for tents and open ventilated dormitories , and private double rooms . There is also an outside communal kitchen, laundry-service, table-tennis, chess, dart, bikes and kayaks for free use by guests. Pias Place next to Bahia Omoa owned by Dutch/German couple is a charming old wooden construction offering a nice living area as well as a porch looking towards the sea. Pias Place can be contacted at tel. Probably the best hotels in town are Flamingo and the Bahia de Omoa. Surfboard and laser sailboats are also available for rent at the latter property.

From Omoa, you can continue on to Guatemala. You can take the bus to Corinto (US1.10) approximately every 10 minutes to the hour or better yet, get the local information regarding the bus that will take you to Frontera Guatemala. If you take this second alternative, which is the most direct, you will end up at Arizona, Guatemala, from where you can take a bus to Puerto Barrios. This route takes you via the brand new "Arizona" bridge over the Motagua River. The highway is completely paved on the Guatemalan side of the border, however traveling on the Honduras side can be quite tricky during wet weather, as the road is slowly being upgraded from Tegucigalpita on to Corinto. If you end up taking the bus to Corinto, look around for "Pulperia Arnold" which is the center of the town and at the crossroads towards the border. Here owner Marcelino Cruz will be happy to assist you with information, as well as getting a pick-up ride to Arizona on the Guatemalan side, from where busses run regularly to Puerto Barrios. Marcelino can help you with money exchange as well. If you are coming into Honduras via Corinto, you should keep in mind that the last bus that leaves towards Puerto Cortes departs at 3:30 p.m. If you miss the bus, Marcelino is building some rooms that are safe and clean, so you can negotiate a room and food with him. His rooms will be worth approximately the equivalent to $3.00 USA dollars. The cost for the regular bus into Puerto Cortes or Omoa is just over half a dollar. The bus schedule from Corinto to Puerto Cortes is as follows: departures are at 6, 7 and 10 a.m.; and then 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Keep in mind that there are a couple of rivers on the Honduras side that lack bridges, and in case of heavy rain, could be impassable for several hours, so don't plan this route if you don't have time to spare, specially during the rainy season. The old 'Jungle Trail' is a thing of the past and once the roadwork's are completed in Honduras, this will be the main Guatemala-Honduras border crossing in this part of the country. In a similar vein, boats that used to run between Omoa and Livingstone in Guatemala have now virtually ceased, so you are now committed to an increasingly easier land crossing.
Official border crossings are now open with both customs and immigration services on both sides. In the Honduran side these are located within the town of Corinto, in the Guatemalan side they are located at Arizona.

There is therefore no more hassles to get entry or exit stamps for those adventure travelers taking this route.
Further west the Merendon Mountain Range becomes ever more impressive. The Cusuco National Park has its northern boundaries within these mountains, with peaks reaching above 6,500 feet, and housing different habitats, such as beaches and mangroves, tropical rain forests and even cloud forests in the higher elevations.

Just before Tegucigalpita lies the Garifuna community of Masca, and in the vicinity is the eco project of Eco Rancho. Here you can enjoy the rich flora and fauna of the area, with the breathtaking views of the coast and crystal clear rivers in the comfort of the luxury finca home, or if you are more adventuresome, camp in one of the campgrounds up in the mountains in specifically pre selected areas. Arrangements must be made in advance and all camping equipment is provided by Eco Rancho. Your experience and Eco Rancho can easily be one of your highlights of your trip to Central America.

Masca is a very interesting small town with a lot a folklore. Although not exclusively a Garifuna Community, there is an important presence of this interesting culture here.

There is a brand new hotel in town that offers all the modern comforts located only a few feet from the beach. The hotel, called the Villa del Mar also offers a restaurant and bar.
From Masca, you can enjoy a couple of nice hikes in the area. The first is to a small waterfall, located only a few hundred feet from the road leading from Masca to Tegucigalpita.

To get there, take the road previously mentioned and follow it to the next river crossing, from there, follow the river. If you have any doubts, ask the locals, they are all familiar with this spot. The other hike is to a cave. Although I have not yet been there myself, I understand that the hike is about a half hour trip and that the cave is interesting.