This week I was tasked with the pleasurable job of showing a colleague the diverse hotels and activities available in the Cangrejal River Valley. Locals refer to the area as “La Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal”. I drive up and down this road on a regular basis, yet I was once again in awe as hurriedly rushed through the valley. Not only are the scenery and geography of the area spectacular. The diversity of the small inns and lodges within the area is stunning. These businesses do not compete, but rather complement each other! And the wide variety of activities available to do is almost overwhelming! There are just so many options of nature and adventure activities available!
The Upscale Lodge in the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal
We were on a tight schedule, and I wanted to show my colleague everything in the valley. We made our first stop at Las Cascadas Lodge. This is the upscale property in the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal and they offer an all-inclusive package. They were full, so we were not able to see the rooms, but we did roam the property.
Nicole, my colleague, enjoyed a swing under the tree canopy. She was most tempted to try the canyoning tour that the Lodge offers. Unfortunately, we did not have the time for it. I suspect she will be back to experience it! If you are looking for an adventure in a pristine forest environment, this is a great alternative. Hike up a trail in the rainforest, and then descend the face of a series of waterfalls. Deep pools under the falls with crystal clear waters wait for you at the bottom of each drop.
Many Different Lodging Facilities to Choose From!
Reluctantly, we left Las Cascadas Lodge and headed for our second stop: Villas Pico Bonito. This property has a fantastic landscaping, with small creeks towering trees, and a magnificent infinity pool. The pool and most of the rooms face the Majestic El Bejuco waterfall up high in the mountains across the river. A hike to the falls is one of the favorite activities to visitors to the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal. If las Cascadas offers a luxury home setting, this property has lovely self-contained villas for rent. They come with a full kitchen facility. The Rio Vista Restaurant and Bar offers the perfect setting to relax, have a great meal or your favorite cocktail and enjoy the picture perfect view.
Our third stop was the Hotel Rio. This is the new kid on the block. The facility offers a full two-bedroom house with an expansive terrace overlooking the river and the El Bejuco waterfall. The house offers one of the few rooms with air conditioning in the valley. Great access to the river is one of the plusses that this property offers. The rest of the facility is on the opposite side of the road and offers a breathtaking view of Pico Bonito National Park and El Bejuco waterfall. A lovely restaurant facility is on the top floor, and a total of four bedrooms on the bottom floor offer comfortable, but spartan décor.
Visiting a Chocolate Factory in the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal!
Although not offering a tour, I just had to show Nicole the Honduras Chocolate Factory facilities in the Cuenca del Cangrejal. A gate with an Oro Maya sign marks the discreet entrance. A short road winds up the mountain as you drive through a cacao plantation. Cacao is native to Honduras, and archaeological evidence points to the fact that it was first used in Honduras to prepare a beverage that was sacred to Mayas and Aztecs: Chocolate. They however added hot peppers to it instead of sugar. The staff were kind enough to show us part of the facility. The actual production room is off limits for several reasons, including hygiene and trade secrets!
After buying some chocolate, we went down the hill again and made a quick stop at Jungle River Lodge. This property has some incredible pools that have been created using natural rock formations. They sit high above the river and offer a unique view of the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal. You can jump down into the river, a 20 plus foot drop that is not for the weak of heart! I also offers a vantage point to see rafters maneuvering through a particularly technical rapid. Jungle River Lodge offers a nice bar, a specious terrace and some rooms. They have the largest dorm facility in the valley, but also have some nice private rooms available. The only Zip line canopy tour in the Cuenca del Cangrejal is located here.
Access Pico Bonito Through the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal…
After a couple of photo ops, we continued up the road to our next destination, the Pico Bonito National Park Visitors Center. The easiest and most popular entrance to this park is via the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal. Here a 400 foot long swing bridge high over the Cangrejal River will take you across the canyon to a network of trails leading to El Bejuco Waterfall. If you are looking for a true “Indiana Jones” adventure experience, you must walk across this bridge. Stunning views up and down the Cangrejal River Canyon provide a perfect spot for memorable pictures. With luck you may get to see a rafting group paddling around huge boulders as the navigate down this spectacular river canyon.
The Award Winning Bed and Breakfast in the Cangrejal River Valley
Next in line was La Villa de Soledad Bed and Breakfast. This is an award-winning bed and breakfast that has raving reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Booking.com and Google reviews. A Spanish hacienda style construction that blends indoors and outdoors into one spectacular living space will surprise you. La Villa de Soledad has a perfect location, close the hanging bridge, the river rafting put in, the zip line at jungle river and the river itself. Their four spacious rooms each open out to the gardens and offer a comfy hammock to relax in. Although they do not have a restaurant on premises, they do serve delicious home cooked meal to their guests when requested.
Just up the road from La Villa de Soledad on the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal Road is the entrance to Omega Tours. This small complex is perhaps the most complete facility in the area. They offer a complete full-service restaurant and bar, rooms and cabins as well as a variety of tours, including white water rafting. Their La Jungla Bar and Restaurant is a popular get together spot for residents in the valley. Open 365 days a year from 7 am till 9 pm, you simply can not go wrong eating here. They offer a variety of tours, including Cayos Cochinos, Cuero y Salado, Cacao Lagoon, horseback riding, etc.
Just across the entrance to Omega are the facilities that belong to La Moskitia Eco-Aventuras. This tour operator specializes in tours to the remote Miskito Coast. But their main headquarters are here, in the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal. Their facility includes camping platforms, where you can pitch your own tent or rent one that comes with two double beds. They are right on the river and have a nice access to it, so it offers an opportunity to camp next to the lovely Cangrejal River. Facilities include access to a kitchen to prepare your own food in you want to, or to purchase your meals from them. They offer white water rafting tours, as well as birdwatching tours and hiking tours into the jungle. There is no doubt that these are the jungle specialists in the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal.
The Upper Section of the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal
Although we ran out of time, and had to go back into town, we missed two more lodges up the road. Cabañas del Bosque is a community owned lodge that has a total of 4 rooms. Rooms are basic, but clean and with their own bathrooms. They are within the community of Las Mangas. They work closely with a tour company that a group of young men put together that is called Cangrejal Tours. Cangrejal Tours are specialized in nature tours and even have a couple of trails into the jungle that they maintain. Although not all of them are bilingual, there are at least three or four that can provide service in English.
Finally, up the road even further, just before you arrive at the community of El Pital is La Canasta Eco-Lodge. This is owned by a lovely, hard working woman called Doña Rosario. She is the leader of a local women’s cooperative called “Juan Pablo Segundo” after the late Pope John Paul II. The lodge is on the opposite side of the river, so you will need to make use of a makeshift “basket” that will cross you high over the river to the opposite bank. The experience in itself is quite a thriller!
Do you truly want to discover the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal? Plan on spending a good three nights in the area. As you can see, you will find a selection of lodges and inns to fit your budget. You can hire a local guide or explore the area on your own. Of course, for the specialized adventure activities, such as Canyoning and Rafting you will need to hire the experts. I can guarantee that you will not only love exploring the Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal. You will start planning on your next trip almost as soon as you leave!
Best of all, it is a perfect match for a vacation to include the Bay Islands of Honduras. From most of the hotels in the valley, you are about 30 minutes to the ferry terminal. This makes for a super-fast and easy transfer between both destinations. Next time you visit Utila or Roatan, make sure you combine your trip with the lovely Cuenca del Rio Cangrejal!