The Moskito Coast - Venturing up the Rio Plantano

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"That's the Stone Age," said the ship captain in Paul Theroux's novel The Mosquito Coast, referring to the vast hinterlands of eastern Honduras. "Like America before the pilgrims landed. Just Indians and woods."

And what was true in the story holds true today: The region of Moskitia, stretched along the Caribbean coast from Nicaragua to Honduras, encompasses the largest remaining tract of virgin jungle in Central America. Access to this untouched wilderness is difficult at best—there are no roads, and only a handful of "airports" (think cow pasture with a wind sock for navigational aid)—but the indigenous people are friendly, the jungle is awe-inspiring, and the wildlife viewing can be absolutely spectacular.

The only way into the heart of the Moskitia is by boat, and the most popular route is up the Rmo Plantano—watershed for a 1.3-million-acre biosphere established by the United Nations and Government of Honduras in 1980.

The preserve is home to two distinct indigenous cultures, Moskito and Pech, to numerous rare or endangered species, including jaguar, monkey, tapir, and the Harpy Eagle, and to the fabled White City ruins and surrounding petroglyphs. A foray up-river will require a minimum of four days and considerable stamina—transportation is primitive and accommodations ad hoc—but as accessibility tends to correlate to exploitation, the rewards of a Plantano visit make it a worthwhile detour for intrepid travelers looking to get way off the beaten path in Honduras.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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