Looking for an exhilarating experience while traveling Honduras? Then I highly recommend white water rafting in La Ceiba. Experience the Cangrejal River of Pico Bonito National Park as you paddle downstream.
I will let you know why it’s worth doing, how to get there, tour operators, prices, what to expect, and more!
No doubt one of the highlights for me traveling Honduras was White Water Rafting in La Ceiba. Getting the chance to paddle down the powerful Cangrejal River next to boulders the size of semi-trucks is absolutely insane.
If you are planning on visiting the country I highly recommend adding this to your Honduras itinerary.
It is located in Pico Bonito National Park as part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which is a network of protected areas that aims to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of Central America.
Though there are a few different white water rafting tours you can choose from, they do range quite a bit in price, from a super affordable $35.00 to $160.00.
If I am being honest, I actually stumbled upon Pico Bonito National Park by chance. Looking for a hostel in La Ceiba, Jungle River Lodge actually popped up, even though it is a decent 10 kilometers away on an unpaved road.
There were only a handful of reviews online at this stage, so I reached out to find out some more logistics, such as how to get there and booked a 3-night stay. They just so happened to be the cheapest of white water rafting tours in the area so I decided to book it in.
Though there are definitely some things you will want to know to make the most out of your experience, and this is where I come in.
In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about going white water rafting on the Cangrejal River. This includes how to get there, tour companies, what to expect, boulder jumping, and more.
White Water Rafting In Honduras On The Rio Cangrejal: What You NEED To Know
- Why Go White Water Rafting In Honduras
- How To Get To Pico Bonito National Park From La Ceiba
- Price Of White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
- What To Bring White Water Rafting In Honduras
- Boulder Jumping On The White Water Rafting Tour
- My Experience White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
- Do I Need To Be A Strong Swimmer
- When To Go White Water Rafting In Honduras
- Day Trip or Stay Overnight In Pico Bonito National Park
- Wildlife You Can See White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
Why Go White Water Rafting In Honduras
Pico Bonito National Park is one of the most beautiful and diverse natural attractions in Honduras. Located on the northern coast, near the city of La Ceiba, this park covers an area of 564.30 km2 and has an altitude ranging from 60 to 2,480 meters.
It is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which connects wildlife habitats from Mexico to Panama.
White water rafting in La Ceiba is not only an exciting and fun way to experience nature, but also a great way to see a different side of Honduras. Many travelers skip La Ceiba and head straight to the islands, but they miss out on one of the most beautiful and diverse regions in the country.
By going white water rafting in Honduras, you’ll get to explore the Cangrejal River Valley, which is a haven for wildlife and adventure. You’ll also get to support local businesses and communities that depend on tourism for their livelihoods.
And of course, you’ll have an unforgettable memory of your trip to Honduras.
Before or after the rafting, you can also try some other activities in the Cangrejal River Valley, such as hiking, zip-lining, birdwatching, or cliff jumping. Yes, you read that right: you can jump off giant rocks into the river for an extra thrill.
To make the most of your stay I highly recommend spending a few nights staying in Pico Bonito National Park where you will be surrounded by the most incredible nature.
How To Get To Pico Bonito National Park From La Ceiba
Pico Bonito National Park is located about 20 km from the city center and where the white water rafting tours depart. Here are some ways to get to the park from La Ceiba to Pico Bonito National Park.
Taxi: You will find many taxis in La Ceiba that will be happy to take you to Pico Bonito National Park. Just be aware that the road to reach the national park is pretty bad and unpaved. In my experience, a reasonable taxi rate is L450 / $18.00 one way.
Though in order to get this price you may need to haggle. If you decide to book a stay at Jungle River Lodge, where I also stayed, they have their own recommended taxi driver so no haggling is required.
By Bus: You can take public buses to the park from La Ceiba. These buses depart from Terminal de Buses Principal San Jose. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday they depart at 10:00 am, 12:15 pm, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays they depart at 10:00 am, 12:15, 2:00 and 4:00 pm.
Lastly, on Sundays, they leave at 12:00 p.m. from La Ceiba to Pico Bonito National Park. To get from the park to town, you have to hail the bus, which is easy as there is only one road. The bus will drop you off at the same bus station. Just be aware that these buses only stop when there are seats available.
The approximate timings are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday around 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m. On Tuesday and Thursday, they leave around 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 9:00 a.m. Sundays they leave around 8:00 am only.
Hitch Hiking: Another possible way is hitchhiking, especially since there is only one road into and out of Pico Bonito National Park you know all cars will be going to the same place as you. However, keep in mind that you are still in Honduras. Pay attention to your surroundings and use common sense.
Honestly, if you are doing a white water rafting on the Cangrejal River you will have a set time that your tour will depart. You will be best off taking a taxi to the meeting point from La Ceiba.
Price Of White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
Depending on what tour company you decide to book with will affect the price that you pay for white water rafting in La Ceiba. Though generally, the price difference is due to the length you will raft along the river and inclusions such as lunch.
Omega Tours is one of the most established and reputable tour operators in the Cangrejal River Valley. They have their own eco-jungle lodge where you can stay and enjoy their restaurant, bar, pool, and hiking trails. They also offer a variety of other nature trips, such as hiking, zip-lining, horseback riding, and birdwatching.
Omega Tours offers two options for white water rafting: two different half-day tours and a full-day tour. Both of the half-day tours last for about 3 hours and cover 8 km of the river, with one having rapids that range from III to class IV, and the other from IV to class V.
The full-day tour lasts for about 6 hours and covers 16 km of the river, with rapids from class III to class V. Both tours include all the equipment, a professional guide, transportation, and lunch.
The prices for Omega Tours are:
- Half-day tour: $60+ USD per person
- Full-day tour: $160 USD per person
Jungle River Lodge
Jungle River Lodge is another great option for white water rafting in Pico Bonito National Park. They also have their own lodge where you can stay and enjoy their restaurant, bar, pool, and spa. This is actually where I stayed in La Ceiba and who I went with for my white water rafting in Honduras experience.
Jungle River Lodge offers a single option for white water rafting, a half-day tour. The half-day tour lasts for between 2 to 3 hours with rapids from class III to class IV. It includes all the equipment, a professional guide, and transportation.
The prices for Jungle River Lodge are:
- Half-day tour: $35 USD per person
What To Bring White Water Rafting In Honduras
Now the company you book with will supply certain things such as life jackets and helmets to ensure your safety. I know they never feel cool to wear, but when you are jumping off high rocks, or falling out of your boat, they are a necessity.
But before you hop on your raft and paddle through the rapids, you need to make sure you have the right gear and clothing for your trip. Here are some essential items that you should bring while white water rafting in Honduras:
Moisture-wicking clothing: You’ll get wet while rafting, so you want to wear clothing that dries quickly and doesn’t chafe your skin. A swimsuit, shorts, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved top are good options. Avoid cotton, denim, or wool, as they stay wet and heavy for a long time.
Footwear: You’ll need shoes that can get wet and won’t fall off your feet while rafting. Tevas, Chacos, or tennis shoes with straps are good choices. Avoid flip-flops, sandals, or bare feet, as they can cause injuries or get lost in the river.
Sunblock: The sun can be very strong in Honduras, especially when reflected by the water. You’ll need a long-lasting, waterproof, and sweatproof sunblock with a high SPF to protect your skin from sunburns. Apply it generously before and during your trip.
Water bottle: You’ll need to stay hydrated while rafting, especially in hot weather. You’ll need a water bottle that can hold enough water for your trip and that can be attached to your raft or vest. Some tour operators may provide water bottles or coolers for you.
Snacks: You may get hungry while rafting, especially if you’re doing a full-day or multi-day trip. You’ll need some snacks that can provide you with energy and nutrition and that won’t spoil in the heat. Granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, jerky, or chocolate are good options. Some tour operators may provide snacks or meals for you.
Dry bag: A dry bag is a waterproof bag that can keep your valuables dry while rafting. You’ll need a dry bag if you want to bring items such as your phone, camera, wallet, keys, or documents with you on the raft. Make sure your dry bag is big enough for your items and that it can be secured to your raft or vest.
Camera: If you want to capture some memories of your white water rafting trip in Honduras, you can bring a camera with you. However, make sure your camera is waterproof or has a waterproof case and that it can be attached to your vest or helmet. A GoPro or a similar action camera is ideal for rafting.
Insect repellent: Depending on where and when you’re rafting in Honduras, you may encounter some mosquitoes or other insects along the river. You may want to bring some insect repellent with DEET or another active ingredient to keep them away from you.
Boulder Jumping On The White Water Rafting Tour
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your white water rafting trip in La Ceiba, Honduras, you should definitely try boulder jumping. This is an optional activity that some tour operators offer as part of their rafting packages on the Cangrejal River.
Boulder jumping is exactly what it sounds like jumping off giant rocks into the river. It’s a fun and exhilarating way to experience the river and the jungle from a different perspective. You’ll feel a rush of adrenaline as you leap into the air and plunge into the water.
Boulder jumping is not for everyone, though. It requires some courage, physical fitness, and swimming skills. You’ll also need to follow the instructions of your guide, who will tell you where and how to jump safely. Some boulders are higher than others, so you can choose the ones that suit your comfort level.
This is usually done at the beginning or the end of your rafting trip, depending on the water level and the section of the river you’re rafting on. Your guide will stop at a spot where there are suitable boulders for jumping and will help you get out of your raft.
You’ll then climb up to the top of a boulder, wearing your helmet, life vest, and shoes. Your guide will show you where to jump and how to land in the water. You’ll also have a safety kayaker waiting for you in the water to assist you if needed.
You can jump as many times as you want, or skip it altogether if you prefer. You can also try other ways of playing with the river, such as sliding down a rock, floating through a rapid, or swimming through a gorge.
My Experience White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
Now as I previously mentioned I booked my white water rafting in Honduras adventure through Jungle River Lodge where we were staying. The owner Kathy is lovely and she also organizes both hiking and white water rafting tours with her local guides.
We actually only paid $20.00 per person for white water rafting, though prices on the website now show $35.00. So I am not sure whether there has been a price increase, or you get a discounted rate if staying in the lodge, but either way both are extremely affordable.
Nevertheless, we traveled in the wet season, and day of our white water rafting tour it had been raining overnight and was still a little bit showery. Oh well, we were going to get wet anyway.
Suiting up in our life jacket and helmet we jump onboard the little jeep and meet our guide, as well as another traveler who is just doing a day trip from La Ceiba. We begin our journey further into Pico Bonito National Park up the bumpy road.
On arrival at a path in the jungle, we pull over and unload our inflatable raft. Luckily the path isn’t too slippery as we make our way down to the water’s edge. Honestly, at this stage, I didn’t actually know part of the white water rafting tour would involve a bit of boulder jumping and canyoning.
Though I quickly found this out as we jumped straight from one boulder on the shore into the water below and swam to the other side.
Our guide showed us how to navigate through these incredibly large boulders, squeezing and swimming making our way further upstream. There were some more complicated areas, especially with a strong current from the excess rain overnight, where I could not make it across, whereas the men did.
Luckily I could navigate up the boulders a bit more upstream to a shallower area.
We climb our final large boulder only about 6 meters above the water, though it’s an awkward downhill run and jump out so I decide to skip this one. The other traveler on the tour nails this and swims across to the last jump for those people who are pros at this.
It’s a verticle cliff climb up to around 8 meters and a final plunge into the water.
We float with the current downstream until we meet back up with our boat and the support kayaking guide. Jumping onboard it’s time for the second part of our white water rafting in La Ceiba adventure.
We venture downstream, taking a couple of swim breaks, and natural waterslide breaks along the way as we navigate the class III and IV rapids. I absolutely love white water rafting and this experience just cements this more.
It is great fun as well are thrashed around the fast-moving river, holding on as we bump into rocks, and trying not to fall out.
The white water rafting adventure finishes right outside Jungle River Lodge, just a short walk back to our rooms where to can freshen up, and enjoy lunch at the onsite restaurant.
Honestly, I can speak on whether the price difference between the Jungle River Lodge tour, and the Omega tour is worth it as I haven’t been on both.
Though this is the cheapest white water rafting experience I have done, including in India, considered the cheapest country in the world. Value for money here was absolutely excellent, and doing the boulder jumping for the first hour was a great way to take things to the next level.
Do I Need To Be A Strong Swimmer
Swimming skills are important for white water rafting because there is always a chance that you may fall out of your raft or flip over in a rapid. In that case, you need to be able to swim to safety or to your raft, or at least float until someone rescues you.
Swimming skills also help you enjoy some of the optional activities that some tour operators offer during your rafting trip, such as boulder jumping, or sliding down rocks. These activities are fun and exciting, but they require you to be comfortable in the water and able to swim a short distance.
The level of swimming skills you need for white water rafting in La Ceiba depends on several factors, such as:
The difficulty of the rapids: The higher the class of the rapids, the more challenging and turbulent they are. Class II and III rapids are relatively easy and suitable for beginners, while class IV and V rapids are more difficult and require more experience and skill.
If you’re rafting on higher-class rapids, you need to be a stronger swimmer than if you’re rafting on lower-class rapids.
The water level and temperature: The water level and temperature of the Cangrejal River vary depending on the season and the rainfall. The higher the water level, the faster and more powerful the current is.
The lower the water temperature, the more uncomfortable and hypothermic you may feel if you fall into the water. If you’re rafting on high water or cold water, you need to be a stronger swimmer than if you’re rafting on low water or warm water.
The length and type of your trip: The length and type of your rafting trip also affect how strong of a swimmer you need to be. A half-day trip is shorter and less demanding than a full-day or multi-day trip.
A guided trip with a professional guide is safer and easier than a self-guided trip without a guide. If you’re doing a longer or self-guided trip, you need to be a stronger swimmer than if you’re doing a shorter or guided trip.
When To Go White Water Rafting In Honduras
Honduras is a country with a tropical climate that has two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The wet season, also known as winter or invierno, lasts from May to October, while the dry season, also known as summer or verano, lasts from November to April.
The Cangrejal River is one of the main attractions for white water rafting in Honduras. The river is fed by rainfall and runoff from the mountains, so its water level and temperature vary depending on the season.
Also, white water rafting is available year-round so you may want to understand how the time of year affects the experience you will have.
Wet Season in Honduras and How It Affects the Cangrejal River
The wet season in Honduras is characterized by heavy and frequent rainfall, especially on the Caribbean coast and the eastern lowlands. The average annual rainfall in these regions is over 2,000 mm, with most of it falling between June and September.
The Pacific coast and the central highlands have a shorter and less intense wet season, with an average annual rainfall of 800 to 2,000 mm.
The water level rises: The increased rainfall and runoff cause the river to swell and flow faster. The river may rise up to 10 m in one night after a storm. This creates more challenging and exciting rapids for white water rafting, but also more risks and hazards.
Some sections of the river may become too dangerous or inaccessible for rafting during the wet season.
The water temperature drops: The cooler air and water temperatures make the river less comfortable for rafting. The average water temperature in the Cangrejal River during the wet season is around 20°C, which may feel cold when combined with the wind and spray.
The visibility decreases: The increased sediment and turbidity in the river reduce the visibility underwater. This makes it harder to see rocks, logs, and other obstacles that may be hidden in the rapids. Rafters need to pay more attention to their guide’s instructions and signals to avoid collisions or injuries.
Dry Season in Honduras and How It Affects the Cangrejal River
The dry season in Honduras is characterized by sunny and warm days, with little or no rainfall. The average annual temperature in Honduras is around 25°C, but it can vary depending on the altitude and location.
The Caribbean coast and the eastern lowlands have a humid and hot climate, while the Pacific coast and the central highlands have a drier and cooler climate.
The water level drops: The reduced rainfall and runoff cause the river to shrink and flow slower. This creates less challenging and exciting rapids for white water rafting, but also more opportunities for other activities such as swimming.
Some sections of the river may become too shallow or calm for rafting during the dry season and you may find yourself needing to drag the boat long to get to the next stretch of the river.
The water temperature rises: The warmer air and water temperatures make the river more comfortable for rafting. The average water temperature in the Cangrejal River during the dry season is around 25°C, which may feel pleasant when combined with the sun and breeze.
The visibility increases: The decreased sediment and turbidity in the river improve the visibility underwater. Rather than being a brown color, it will truly look like paradise with clear blue water flowing.
Day Trip or Stay Overnight In Pico Bonito National Park
If you’re visiting La Ceiba or the Bay Islands, you may be wondering if you should do a day trip or stay overnight in Pico Bonito National Park. The answer depends on your preferences, budget, and time.
A day trip to Pico Bonito National Park is a good option if you have limited time or money, or if you prefer to stay in a more urban or coastal setting. You can easily arrange a day trip from La Ceiba with a local tour operator or by yourself.
You can see the highlights of the park in a few hours whether you want to go hiking, rafting, birdwatching, or visiting waterfalls. Though be aware you may miss some of the park’s beauty and wildlife. A day trip may not give you enough time to explore the park’s different trails and zones.
You may also miss some of the nocturnal animals or birds that are more active at dawn or dusk.
An overnight stay in Pico Bonito National Park is a good option if you aren’t on a budget. You can choose from different lodges and cabins that are located inside or near the park. This way you can experience the beauty and wildlife more fully.
An overnight stay also allows you to enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature. You can also disconnect from the noise and stress of the city. Just know that you likely will spend more money on accommodation and food.
Wildlife You Can See White Water Rafting In La Ceiba
Now honestly you may not see too much of the wildlife that calls Pico Bonito National Park home while you are on your white water rafting tour. Though this is simply because you will be paddling, swimming, and jumping too much to really look around and see your surroundings.
But I will say our guide pointed out some rather large spiders clinging onto the same rocks we were climbing.
If you want to see some of the wildlife here I highly recommend doing a hike in the national park and staying overnight to increase your chances. Some of the most iconic and charismatic wildlife at Pico Bonito National Park are:
Toucans: These are colorful and conspicuous birds that feed on fruits and insects. There are six species of toucans in the park, including the keel-billed toucan, the chestnut-mandible toucan, and the emerald toucanet. They can be seen in pairs or flocks in the canopy or near fruiting trees.
Jaguars: These are the largest cats in the Americas and the top predators in the park. They are elusive and nocturnal, but sometimes leave tracks or scats along the trails. They prefer dense forests and prey on deer, peccaries, monkeys, and other animals.
Monkeys: There are two species of monkeys in the park: white-faced capuchins and mantled howlers. The capuchins are agile and intelligent, often seen jumping from branch to branch and using tools to crack nuts or fruits. The howlers are more sedentary and vocal, often heard roaring in the morning and evening.
Poison dart frogs: These are small and brightly colored frogs that secrete toxins from their skin as a defense mechanism. There are several species of poison dart frogs in the park, including the red-eyed tree frog, the strawberry poison dart frog, and the blue jeans poison dart frog. They can be found in moist and shady areas near streams or ponds.
Where To Stay In La Ceiba?
La Ceiba is definitely on the backpacking Honduras itinerary, though most people decide to simply stay here one night on the way to the islands. This means a lot of accommodation in the city center does leave a lot to be desired, even the hostels are quite on the basic side.
If you are also simply planning on staying in La Ceiba one night then this is perfect. Though if you want to discover more of mainland Honduras I highly recommend spending a few nights in the Pico Bonito National Park.
I decided to stay at Jungle River Lodge here which is an excellent hostel located right in the middle of the jungle alongside the river. It was surprisingly budget-friendly with some of the cheapest white water rafting I have ever seen.
There are also some hikes you can do around the area to nearby waterfalls. They have dorm rooms available, as well as privates.
A hostel stay right on the river in Pico Bonito National Park. Dorms start at $19.00 per night.BOOK NOW
More of a luxury stay in Pico Bonito National Park. Rooms here start at $80.00 per night for a private room.BOOK NOW
A basic hostel in the city center of La Ceiba. Dorms here start for around $13.00 per night.BOOK NOW
A basic and affordable hotel in the town of La Ceiba. Private rooms here start at $26.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Other Things To Do In Pico Bonito National Park & La Ceiba
Hike to Cascada El Bejuco: This is an impressive 80-meter high waterfall that plunges into a natural pool. The hike starts at the visitor center of the park, where you can pay a small entrance fee and get a map.
The trail is well-marked and takes you through the lush rainforest, crossing a suspension bridge over the Cangrejal River and passing by several smaller waterfalls along the way. The hike is about 15 kilometers round-trip and can take up to 6 hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.
Visit Honduras Chocolate Factory: If you are a chocolate lover, you will enjoy visiting Honduras Chocolate Factory called Oro Maya. This is a small family-owned business that produces organic chocolate from local cacao beans.
You can take a tour of the factory and learn about the history and process of making chocolate. From harvesting the cacao pods to roasting and grinding the beans to molding and wrapping the bars. You can also taste different varieties of chocolate and buy some souvenirs to take home.
Rio Zacate Trail: This trail starts near Hotel Rio and takes you through the rainforest along the Zacate River. The trail is about 8 kilometers round-trip and can take up to 4 hours. It is an easy-to-moderate hike that is suitable for beginners and families.
You can see many birds and plants along the way, as well as some small waterfalls and pools.
Los Lobos Trail: This trail starts near Los Lobos Bridge and takes you through the rainforest to the Cangrejal River. The trail is about 5 kilometers round-trip and can take up to 3 hours. It is an easy hike that is suitable for all ages. You can see many monkeys and other animals along the way, as well as some views of the mountains.
Swimming In Rock Pools: Last but not least are the incredible natural rock pools you can swim in along the river’s edge. The landscapes here are absolutely incredible with hundreds of huge, truck-sized boulders stacked up along and in the river.
Over time these have created natural swimming pools which are the perfect place to relax on a hot day, or if you aren’t comfortable swimming in the strong currents of the river.
Catedral de San Isidra: This a beautiful church with stained glass windows and a clock tower. You can admire the architecture and learn about the history of the city.
La Ceiba Beach: Why not enjoy the beach and the sun at La Ceiba Beach, a popular spot for locals and tourists? You can swim, surf, play volleyball, or relax on the sand. You can also find many restaurants, bars, and clubs along the beachfront.
Discover The Garifuna Culture: Learn about the culture and traditions of the Garifuna people, an Afro-Caribbean ethnic group that lives in La Ceiba and other parts of Central America. You can visit their villages, watch their dances and music performances, and taste their cuisine.
Wild Night Out: Experience the nightlife at Zona Viva, a lively area with many pubs, discos, and karaoke bars. You can dance, sing, drink, and have fun with your friends or meet new people.
LIKE IT? PIN IT!
Want more Honduras Inspiration? Check out….
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- VISITING THE COPAN MAYAN RUINS
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