Heading for La Moskitia, hopefully

I’m now holed up in the Banana Republic guesthouse in La Ceiba, waiting out a storm that has unleashed torrential rain over the last four days, clogging up the city’s water supplies and grounding marine transport to a halt.

It’s not ideal, as my current plan is to make my way through La Moskitia – the Mosquito Coast – in order to pick up an epic track that heads south of Puerto Lempira into Nicaragua. From what I understand, the whole area is linked only by waterways and dirt roads – not a slab of pavement in sight. It’s said to be wild and remote, and home to the largest tract of rainforest north of the Amazon. I’ve been advised to stock up on cash and food, both of which can be hard to come by.

Part of the reason I’m keen to make it through is to visit Mocoron. While travelling in the US, I met a gifted folk singer, Gigi Love, who turned out to be the daughter of a Honduran woman who runs this foundation. It’s eighty kilometres down a rough dirt road from the main settlement of Puerto Lempira, and sounds like an incredible opportunity to learn about Moskitian life.

Aside from flying, there are a couple of ways to get to this region. I can try and catch a cargo boat from La Ceiba direct to Puerto Lempira, a twenty four hour ride that, subject to negotiations with the boat’s captain, costs around 1200 lempiras ($65).

Or – and my preferred option – I can cycle as far east as the road will take me, all the way to the Garifuna settlement of Batalla. Then I’ll try to pick up a succession of dugout canoes along the coast (a route shared with cocaine-smuggling narcotraficantes), or inland through various waterways. I’ve heard rumours there’s a cargo boat from Brus Laguna I should be able to connect with, subject to weather variables. There’s woefully little information on biking through the area, though this link on the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum has proved useful.

Unfortunately these canoe rides sound potentially expensive, as gas is hard to come by and options are limited, especially when travelling solo. Transporting the bike could be pricey too, as it’s effectively turfing someone out of their seat.

But the real fly in the ointment, as I’ve come to find out, is that the rainy season lingers longer on this north eastern coast of Honduras than in the rest of Central America, as it scoops up the edges of America’s east coast winter weather system.

This can make jungle travel by boat and dirt road slow going, or leave you stranded… Looks like I still have a couple more days to mull it over…

The ITM map to Honduras. Note abundance of green and blue. With a little local insight, hopefully I can make sense of what's rideable and what isn't at this time of year...

And some inspirational reading. Paul Theroux' Mosquito Coast chronicles the story of a man who moves to the jungle to build an ice machine. It was made into a movie in 1986 starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix.

This is one of the few sites online with useful information. La Ruta Moskitia is a project to develop sustainable tourism in the area, and has some handy travel tips, including a list of local boat prices and contacts.

9 thoughts on “Heading for La Moskitia, hopefully

    1. Gigi Love

      Great, watch out for quick sand potholes that suck up Toyota 4 Runners in a flash.
      “The whole perspective changes with the shifted position of the eye, and depends not on the subject, but on the one who is looking” from Lust for Life-to you!

  1. therighthonharoldgiblet

    Hey Cass, most of the links work but I’m having trouble with the one from “Nancy from Santa Fe”??
    Tally Ho and don’t spare them horses!!
    ps. post some pix of a Greenheart tree


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.