Honduras’ new archaeological research center
A lost city, UNESCO-recognized ruins, picturesque fortress and an eco-archeological park, there is plenty of attractions waiting to be discovered in this archeologically-rich Central American country
Honduras has long been home to some of the world’s most well-known archeological sites but with others of legend only recently discovered, the Central American country continues to add to its robust archeology offering. Most recently the destination debuted a new Archeology Research Center, to bring artifacts from one of the country’s newest archeological sites to the hands of travelers and rounding out a list of attractions that includes Maya sites, museums and endless opportunities for history buffs to delve into its storied past.
With years of speculation and searching, Honduras’ legendary “Lost City of the Monkey God” was discovered in 2015. Located in the Mosquitia region in eastern Honduras, Kaho Kamasa, meaning White City in Misquito dialect, is home to ruins dating between A.D. 1,000 and 1,500. The new Archeology Research Center, located in the El Aguacate sector of the Olancho province, will house artifacts excavated from the site and serve as a place for educational tourism, welcoming visitors to learn about the scientific procedures that have been applied to study the found relics.
“The discovery of Kaho Kamasa and the subsequent excavations that have taken place and are currently underway, have been a stimulating development in the world of archeology,” said Honduras Institute of Tourism’s Minister-Director Emilio Silvestri. “It adds to our country’s extensive list of archeology attractions that also includes the world-renowned ruins of Copan, the Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa in Cortes and Los Naranjos, an important eco archeological park that offers activities for adventure and nature travelers.”
Considered one of the most spectacular cities of ancient Maya civilization and a monumental archeological site, Copan is a ruins complex known for its beautiful stone temples, altars, hieroglyphs and stelae. It was one of the most important civilizations during the Classic period, from A.D. 250-900, and the site of significant advances in mathematics and astronomy until it was suddenly abandoned. As a religious, political and civil center, much of what scholars know about Maya civilization has been learned by the discoveries made at Copan, whose ruins were added to the list of UNESCO Heritage sites in 1980.
For travelers, the nearby town of Copan Ruinas has plenty to offer in addition to the ruins. With cobblestone streets lined with picturesque white buildings, it’s one of the country’s most charming areas and features plenty of hotels and restaurants. There’s also the nearby Macaw Mountain Bird Park – a private reserve home to macaws, parrots and more, the Museum of Maya Archeology and the Digital Museum. Thanks to its rich forest environment, Copan is also one of Honduras’ Tourist Coffee Routes, home to coffee that is popular for its hints of chocolate, caramel, oranges and balanced round body.
Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa
Fortress of San Fernando de Omoa in Cortés is an 18th century Spanish fort, built for protection from pirates raiding from the Atlantic Ocean. In 1779, it was the site of the Battle of San Fernando, a short siege between British and Spanish forces shortly after Spain joined the American Revolutionary War as an American ally. In 1959, the Honduran government committed to a restoration project and the fort has become one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.
Located on Honduras’ Caribbean Sea coast, Omoa is a laid-back beach town just a day trip away from San Pedro Sula. A former fishing village, here travelers will find some of the best seafood the country has to offer and a relaxing, budget-friendly getaway.
Los Naranjos Eco-Archeological Park
Combining two of Honduras’ most impressive qualities, archeology meets nature at Los Naranjos Eco-Archeological Park, offering archeological remains and protected natural land. Located on the northern shores of Lake Yojoa, excavations in the 1930s and 1960s lead to findings from varied time periods with artifacts marked as early as 800-400 B.C. and as late as A.D. 950-1250. Narnajo means orange, and the name of the park was derived from the orange color found on pottery, part of an expansive collection of findings that also included jade figurines, clay vessels and more, many of which can be viewed at the local museum. The park’s ecological attractions are just as interesting with a newly constructed birdwatching tower and recently renovated suspension bridge running through the park. Visitors will enjoy relaxing views of not only Lake Yojoa but also Cerro-Azul Meambar National Park.
Lake Yojoa is home to a number of popular restaurants and bars, and even a microbrewery serving craft beers brewed right on the premises. Adventure travelers can enjoy hiking and birdwatching and can choose between camping, with Cerro-Azul offering some of the country’s best campsites, or lakefront accommodations at local fincas.