Welcome to the Jungle: A Photo Trip Report

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Dec 20, 2008
Activities:
Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling, Canyoneering
Season:
Winter
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Welcome to the Jungle:  A Photo Trip Report
Created On: Mar 9, 2012
Last Edited On: Mar 9, 2012

Overview

This is the story of a spectacular journey we took through Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador between December 18 2008 and January 5 2009. Participants were my wife Kimberly, my six year old son Kessler and my four year old daughter Shaylee. We climbed several rugged mountains, explored deep gorges, climbed to beautiful waterfalls and saw much wildlife. The photos will tell most of the story.

Cañon de SapoKessler and Jesse climbing one of the difficult waterfall pitches in the Cañon de Sapo (Honduras). December 20 2008.


Copán Ruinas-December 19 2008

These are some photos taken of the incredible Mayan site Copán Ruinas in Honduras near the Guatemala border. While not really mountaineering (unless you count climbing ancient stone steps) and the walking around the ruins is fascinating and a must do for anyone in the area, so don't miss it. An estimated 18,000-25,000 people lived there at one time during the period 400-800 AD.

Scarlet MacawsScarlet Macaws like to hang out in the forest around Copán Ruinas in Honduras. The beautiful bird was sacred to the Maya.


Smoke JaguarMayan carvings at Copán Ruinas. This is the Mayan King Smoke Jaguar which reigned 628 to 695 AD.


PyramidOne of the older pyramids in Copán Ruinas. I believe this one is fro the 500's AD.


18 Rabbit This is a carving of 18 Rabbit, the Mayan King who ruled Copán 695-738 AD. He was captured and beheaded by the rival king Cauac Sky.


Intricate carvingsIntricate carvings at Copán Ruinas.


Giant TreeGiant tree growing on one of the pyramids at Copán Ruinas. The tree is said to be 400-500 years old and is huge!


Mayan carvingsMayan carvings at Copán Ruinas. I believe these ones date from the Smoke Jaguar period 628 to 695 AD.


Pyramid complexThis is part of the huge Mayan Pyramid at Copán Ruinas and was built by the Mayan king Smoke Jaguar between 628 AD and 695 AD.

Cañon de Sapo-December 20 2008

Cañon de Sapo is an interesting slot canyon near Copan Ruins right on the Honduras/Guatemala border. While many people visit the main ruins in Copan few make the trek into the canyon. Along the way are other lesser known Mayan ruins (such as the fertility site) and some nice forest and scenery. The canyon itself is a real challenge and has several slippery climbs to get all the way through.

Because the canyon is little know, we asked a local guide if he could take us through. We were told that it would be a difficult trip for children, but that we could try it. We had to climb over many trees and rocks along the way and the kids enjoyed seeing the hidden Mayan ruins and petroglyphs.

The gorge itself was both beautiful and technical, but it had some fixed ropes making climbing through easier. Kessler and I made it all the way through while Shaylee and Kimberly made it most of the way.

Mayan Fertility SiteThis is the Mayan Fertility site on the way to the Cañon de Sapo. Look close and see the carved frog lower right.


PitchHelping Shaylee down a steep pitch to access the Cañon de Sapo.


ClimbKessler starting a climb up one of the waterfalls in the Cañon de Sapo.


WadingWading in the Cañon de Sapo. Below here the route gets more challenging.


Cañon de SapoDescending the Cañon de Sapo.


Cañon de SapoThis is where the Cañon de Sapo begins to drop into a slot canyon and becomes much darker.


TunnelThe creek in the Cañon de Sapo goes through this little tunnel forming a natural bridge.


Climbing a pitchJesse and Kessler climbing a pitch in the Cañon de Sapo.


Slippery pitchClimbing a slippery pitch in the Cañon de Sapo. There are several slippery climbs to complete the route.

El Pital-December 22 2008

We decided to head to El Salvador to climb the highest summit there. We climbed the peak from Rio Chiquito.

Although a steep and narrow road does reach high on the mountain, there are trails up as well and they pass through some nice pastures and rainforest. We decided to climb the mountain entirely on foot.

Since the top is in both countries and a monument marks the border, Shaylee wanted to eat lunch in El Salvador, Kessler wanted to eat lunch in Honduras, Kim ate lunch in both counties and I paced all over the place all over the top. We completed the round trip on summit day in six hours. It was a steep eight miles round trip, but Shaylee was on a mission to prove that she is as tough as her brother.

El PitalEl Pital as viewed from the tiny hamlet of Rio Chiquito.


El PitalEl Pital rises above some pretty pastures.


San IgnacioThe village of San Ignacio is seen far below as seen from the slopes of El Pital.


El PitalKessler and Shaylee on the trail to the summit of El Pital, the highest peak in El Salvador.


Looking westLooking west from near the summit of El Pital.


Cloud ForestThis is the trail to the top of El Pital from the north. It goes through some really nice cloud forest.


Summit marker and international boundaryhis is the summit of El Pital, the highest peak in El Salvador as viewed on December 22 2008. Since the peak forms an international boundary, Shaylee is in El salvador and Kessler in Honduras.

Montaña del Celaque-December 24-26 2008

This was the big climb of our trip. Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I spent Christmas climbing in the Montaña del Celaque National Park. Shaylee and Kimberly did not make it to the summits, but did climb to Campamento Don Tomas (where we spent two nights camping), quite a good accomplishment for four year old Shaylee. It was a rugged climb, but Kessler and I climbed three summits in Celaque including Cerro Las Minas, the highest mountain in Honduras.

December 24

After several long and bumpy bus rides the day before, we woke up at 5 AM in order to catch a ride to the trailhead by 5:30 AM. We started up the mountain at 6:30 AM. It was a pretty steep climb with many tricky stream crossings, but overall it wasn’t too bad and we made it to Campamento Don Tomas by 3 PM.

Late evening I saw and owl and spider monkey, but the kids missed the monkey.

Lower slopesThis is part of the beautiful open forest on the lower slopes of the Montaña de Celaque.


Tricky stream crossingThis is the trickiest of the stream crossings to get up to the campimento Don Tomas. If you take a trail closer to the river lower down, then there is a bridge across the river, but we didn't find out until the way back.


Dark rainforestThe rainforest on the upper slopes of Montaña de Celaque is rather dark even in the middle of the day.


Christmas Eve VisitorWe got this visitor on Chrismas Eve 2008 on the Montaña de Celaque. It landed on a branch above the tent and didn't seem to mind us that much. I also saw a spider monkey, but they are hard to photograph since they move so fast!


Christmas CampCampamento Don Tomas.


December 25

The people of Gracias must really know how to party because all night we kept thinking that someone was hiking up the trail with a boom box. It was actually the party going down in the city far below and quite a long ways away! This went on until about 4 am.

Shaylee decided that she didn’t want to try for the summit, so Kim and Shaylee stayed in camp while Kessler and I went off to climb the mountain (8 AM). There were some steep and challenging climbs over roots and rocks and some climbing though a misty and mysterious cloud forest. There were some weird plants such as moss several feet high and long cactus vines hanging down from very tall trees. Kessler and I made the true summit before having lunch (there were two other summits that we climbed as well). After lunch we returned back down the mountain and were back by 3:30 PM.

Later that evening the owl returned and landed above the tent and I again photographed it.

Climbing Montaña de CelaqueKessler climbing Montaña de Celaque.


Jungle jimSometimes climbing the Montaña de Celaque is just like playing in one huge jungle jim.


Handy Roots and VinesWhen climbing Montaña de Celaque, you will find that roots and vines come in very handy on the steep 800 meter section!


Strange flowerThe upper slopes of Montaña de Celaque have these huge and strange and interesting flowers.


Steep scrambleThis is part of the long, steep and slippery scramble which is the crux of the climb up Montaña de Celaque.


Mystical misty forestIn the mist of the cloud forest the trees take on an almost mystical feel and look.


Hanging cactusI've never seen anything like this. These are long cactus vines hanging from the trees in the cloud forest. A very unique feature on Montaña de Celaque.


Cloud forest walkingThe misty cloud forest.


Under the logWhen climbing Montaña de Celaque sometimes you have to go under logs. Luckily this one is easy. Some of them you either have to crawl under or climb over the logs.


Cloud ForestDeep in the cloud forest.


Strange trees and plantsThe summit plateau of Montaña de Celaque is covered with all kinds of strange trees and plants. It is a very interesting mountain to climb.


Kessler s 100th MountainThis is the Cerro Las Minas, the highest point on the Montaña de Celaque. This photo was taken on December 25 2008. It was a special day since it was both Christmas day and also Kessler's 100th mountain that he had climbed.


December 26

Today we were to descend the mountain, but we took a more challenging route down. We took a wrong turn and had to backtrack for 1.5 hours. After getting back on track we made the descent down the mountain in four hours, but we had to walk much of the road back to Gracias before finding a ride.

Creek crossingKessler, Shaylee and Kimberly on one of the several stream crossings required to climb the Montaña de Celaque.


The climb of Montaña del Celaque was a very scenic and exciting trip, but everyone was glad to get back down. It was also special because it was Kessler's 100th mountain that he had climbed.

Cerro Carambola-December 30 2008

Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I climbed Cerro Carambola (a.k.a. Carambola Mountain) on the island of Roatan. Cerro Carambola is a small but interesting peak. We completed the loop hike and much of our climb was in the pouring rain, but the trail was not overly slick and the rain isn´t cold at this elevation and latitude. If anything the rain felt pretty good.

Although Cerro Carambola is a small peak, it has nice scenery and many interesting plants and animals.

West EndWest End, near the trailhead.


IguanaIguanas are often seen on Cerrro Carambola. Locals know them as "wishywillies".


Dark rainforestThe rainforest on Cerro Carambola is dark and hard to photograph, even in the middle of the day.


LizardLizard seen while climbing Cerro Carambola.


ButterflyButterfly near the base of Cerro Carambola.


IguanaThis is an iguana we saw on Roatan. It is different from the famous "wishiwillie" iguanas that Roatan is famous for so I don't know if the one on this photos is native to the island.

Pico Bonito December 31 2008-January 1 2009

December 31: Pico Bonito (Honduras)

Shaylee, Kessler, Kimberly and I did a really nice hike in the Parque Nacional de Pico Bonito though the thick rainforest. We also rode the zip lines part way down and across the river.

River crossingShaylee crossing the Rio Cangrejal on December 31 2008.


January 1: Cascada El Bujeco (Honduras)

We went to bed early New Year's Eve, but we started the new year with a bang. Kimberly, Kessler, Shaylee and I climbed to the Cascada El Bujeco in the Parque Nacional Pico Bonito.

We took a local guide and crossed the Rio Cangrejal before reaching the climbing trail to the falls. In retrospect the river crossing was hazardous with kids and I wasn’t happy after I found out we could have taken the bridge a few kilometers upriver (apparently the [unethichal] guide thought we would just give up and wouldn’t go all the way to the falls, so wasn't planning on us making it that far). The climbers trail to the falls was a real challenge with the kids, but other than the river crossing was fun. After reaching the falls (quite an accomplishment via the route we took up) we descended by the standard route through on the National Park trail and the bridge across the river. It was a fairly good trail and less rugged than the route we took up.

Cascada El BujecoA close up shot of the wonderful Cascada El Bujeco.


Rio CangrejalThis is the Rio Cangrejal. Crossing the river was the crux of our route to Cascada El Bujeco.


Exploring the JungleShaylee and Kimberly exploring the jungle on the way to Cascada El Bujeco. The route is about to get difficult ahead.


Beautiful WaterfallThere are actually many waterfalls on the route up to the Cascada El Bujeco. This is just one of them.


Beginning of steep section This is just the beginning of the steep section.


Nearing the fallsNearing the falls.


Cascada El BujecoKessler, Shaylee and Kimberly climbing up to the Cascada El Bujeco in Parque Nacional Pico Bonito. The climbing route we took up to the falls was not easy, but it was hard to get photos of the difficult sections.


Cascada El BujecoThis is Cascada El Bujeco on Pico Bonito in Honduras. The climb up to the falls is well worth the rewards.

Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas/Punta Sal-January 3 2009

Kimberly, Kessler, Shaylee and I visited the Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas/Punta Sal. Because most of the park is covered by a huge lagoon (Laguna de los Micos) we visited most of the park by boat and walks were confined to shorter hikes along the coast. We ended up seeing many tropical birds and many White Face (Capuchin) Monkeys. This was our last adventure on our trip.

After this is was time to head back to San Pedro Sula and prepare for our journey home. It sure was a fantastic trip!

PelicansThe Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas/Punta Sal in Honduras is alive with much birdlife. These are the pelicans.


Monkey eating a coconutThis White Face (Capuchin) Monkey is eating a coconut in the trees at the Laguna de los Micos in the Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas/Punta Sal. This is in the mangrove forest.


Howler MonkeysHowler Monkeys also live in the Parque Nacional Jeannette Kawas/Punta Sal, but they tend to stay more hidden than the White Face (Capuchin) Monkeys. This one is actually outside the national park.










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Welcome to the Jungle: A Photo Trip Report

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