A rainforest lodge brimming with biodiversity, great food, and upscale comforts.
Our bus rambled for three hours over wet payment en route to La Cieba. Heavy rains made the air thick and moist, even more humid than normal. We turned into the long, muddy driveway around 9 pm; excitement for our moment of arrival was palatable, but the dark bumpy road seemed to never end. Finally, our rainforest salvation was upon us and cicadas announced our arrival. We had arrived at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, located deep in the tropical rainforest just outside of La Cieba, Honduras.
Our band of ten weary but adrenalized birders clambered off the bus and stepped into the attractive post-and-beam lobby of Pico Bonito. A well-dressed and attentive staff offered us a fruity rum drink and saw that our bags were delivered to our rooms. I let out a big sigh. The work of travel was over. Playtime had just begun.
In a figurative sense, Pico Bonito shines most brightly at night, when a trail of warm landscape lighting leads guests around the winding property, and, as we’d see later, when darkness shrouds a secret abundance of night crawling creatures. In this darkness, so rich and deep, we found it easy to forget everything – who we were, why we’d come, and what we had to do; cares fell off our shoulders like a fur coat. The wildlife promises that Pico Bonito had to offer would hold us spellbound day and night, for the next week.
After our welcome drink, we followed dimly lit pathways to our cabins, each perfectly blended in its forest environment, and rested for the next day’s activities. Outfitted in West Indies plantation-style décor, the cabin was large and comfortable and appointed with tiled sink and shower, coffee pot, hair dryer, table and chairs, safe, and ceiling fans.
While the cabins are comfortable, the grounds are where the action is. Pico Bonito is surrounded by a remarkable variety of wildlife – every step on this property a veritable jungle safari. The lodge is contiguous with Pico Bonito National Park, which harbors 350-square miles of relatively undisturbed tropical wonder. The open veranda overlooks an expansive garden and numerous hummingbird feeders. One could sit here for hours, binoculars or book in hand, watching hummingbirds flit back and forth, vying for territory at the feeder.
There are many ways to pass the time at Pico. Saunter over to the tiled swimming pool, treat yourself to facial at the spa, or relax into downward dog at the yoga platform that overlooks a ravine. Head back to the ponds to search for tree frogs and toads, or, do what we did, and spend a quiet morning at the top of the three-story birding tower in search of Lovely Cotingas, Bat Falcons, Honeycreepers, and Keel-billed Toucans.
Venture with your Pico Bonito guide onto the Loop Trail, where hundreds of birds can be seen with careful and quiet exploration. If you have good knees and conditions are suitable, ask if he’ll take you on the “easy route” to Unbelievable Falls, a beautiful waterfall situated in a remote (key word: remote) region of the park. And if someone mentions the hard route, just say no. Even if they drop tempting phrases such as Crested Owl, Azure-crested Jay, or Gray-headed Piprites. But if you go, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.
At Pico, each day can hold a new excursion. A venture into the nearby Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge for a leisurely boat ride is liable to produce manatees, monkeys, bats, crocodiles, and an entirely new group of bird species associated with riparian zones (Amazon Kingfisher, Boat-billed Heron, Northern Jacana, Night-herons, and Gray-necked Wood-Rail).
Pico Bonito holds a thriving night scene. When most of the birds (except owls and potoos, of course) go to sleep, animals like howler monkeys, spider monkeys, kinkajous, opossums, lizards, tree frogs, and porcupines emerge in the warm tropical mist.
Between excellent and filling meals, our crew of ten naturalists spent six solid days and nights combing the ground, skies, and tree canopies for critters, and everyday delivered new and exciting species. Between every nighttime jaunt, we’d pause at the moth tent (yes, you heard it right, a MOTH TENT!) and admire a startling array of moth species, praying mantises, cicadas, and other insects. But be careful where you step at Pico Bonito – venomous snakes are not unusual – a headlamp or flashlight will help you avoid unnecessary encounters. Speaking of – the head naturalist at Pico Bonito is a herpetologist – ask him for an interpretive tour of their “serpetarium” where he’ll introduce you to the area’s slithering serpents. Pico Bonito is truly wild.
This is the rainforest, where every square foot beholds a natural bounty unlike anything you can experience up north.
This is Pico Bonito, where you’ll be spoiled by attentive staff, feast on delicious Mesoamerican entrés, be guided by trained naturalists, and experience a thrilling infusion of wild nature that will leave you feeling truly alive.
I thoroughly recommend the Lodge at Pico Bonito. And if you can’t get there with the whole family, grab your nearest birding buds, your naturalist neighbors, your old high school biology teacher, whomever! Get a nature-loving group and go!
- Member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World
- 15 minutes from La Ceiba airport, 3 hours from San Pedro Sula airport
- 22 cabins with vaulted ceilings and furnished in plantation style using native woods
- Some cabins have interior doors to connect two cabins, thus sleeping 8 comfortably
- New spa opens in early 2016 to feature facials and massages
- Resturant area has game room with pool table, foosball, couches, and more
- Nearby attractions include Cayos Cochinos, Pico Bonito National Park, Cangrejal River, Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, La Ceiba.
- Complimentary transportation from La Ceiba airport to lodge is available.
Note: Our stay at the Pico Bonito was sponsored by Leica Sport Optics for the purpose of introducing Leica’s new Trinovid HD. View amazing wildlife and nature photos from our tour group on Facebook at this link.
To visit Pico Bonito in all its splendor, and bird hard with great people, join the November, 2016 Honduras Birding for Conservation tour. Read more here.