Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve protects one of the last areas of tropical rainforest in Central America — 1.3 million acres (525,000 hectares) in total. The mountainous landscape along the Río Plátano watershed is home to some 400 species of birds, 40 mammals and 120 reptiles and amphibians, a number of which are threatened or endangered.
Travelers hiking the reserve’s mountain trails or rafting along the Río Plátano or Río Seco might spot colorful harpy eagles, colorful macaws, howler monkeys, sloths and maybe even a puma or jaguar crouched in the undergrowth.
Besides its natural attractions, the biosphere reserve is also home to a population of about 2,000 indigenous Pech and Miskito residents who have largely preserved their traditional way of life.
Most transport within the reserve is by boat. June through September is the rainy season in the area, which can complicate travel.
The Garifuna are groups of indigenous people who live along the coast of Honduras. Among the most accessible Garifuna villages is Miami, within the Punta Sal National Park. The people of Miami live along a spit of sand stretched between the Caribbean Sea and a placid lagoon. They reside mostly in straw huts, living off fish from the sea. A visit here offers the chance to learn about the locals and their way of life, as well as nature tours to spot crocodiles, birds and other wildlife. Most visitors also partake in a local meal of fish steamed in banana leaves under hot stones, along with plantains and cassava bread.
The Miami Garifuna Village is located about an hour outside the town of Tela on the north coast of Honduras. It’s possible to drive there, but because the out-of-the-way location can be hard to find, most visitors opt for a tour that arranges transportation by bus or boat.