Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica

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Jun 9, 2015, 7:37:20 PM6/9/15
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Hi, we are planning to ride through Central America later this year, so I wanted to do a little bit of research, in case anyone has ridden through those parts recently.

Firstly, we want to avoid the Pan-Am highway as much as possible and are not afraid of dirt roads, so are thinking of riding from Puerto Barrios up the coast to Puerto Cortes, take some side roads (if available) to avoid San Pedro Sula, and then back up the coast to La Ceiba, & continue as far as possible, before heading south via Corocito to Juticalpa, cut across to Terrero Blanco and down the N-53 to Danli & cross into Nicaragua at Los Manos.

I would appreciate any info on the situation in the Honduran central highlands in particular.

And a second question, the crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica between San Carlos / Los Chiles: Is it still only via a boat trip, or has the bridge been finally built?
(I see that it does not seem to be problematic to take a bike on the boat, but was just wondering whether it may be entirely rideable by now...)

Thanks to any potential respondents!


Bryan Ellerbrock

Jun 11, 2015, 1:31:44 PM6/11/15
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Hi S.R.,

I don't know how useful my info will be as I wasn't biking, but I lived and worked in San Pedro Sula for the last two years and traveled most of the Honduran routes you've mentioned by public bus.

The road from Puerto Barrios to Cortes is nice and paved, and I found the border crossing to be better than most, in part because it wasn't busy. From Puerto Cortes I don't think there are any roads crossing the Rio Ulua north of the San Pedro Sula area, but you could probably take back roads to avoid the main city as you head to La Lima. Honestly though, San Pedro Sula gets a worse rep than it deserves, and it's main thoroughfares wouldn't be much different than other cities.

The route from La Lima to La Ceiba and Trujillo is also fine and paved almost the whole way. Lots of Palm oil plantations. From Trujillo you'd have to head south towards Juticalpa. I remember that route being fairly mountainous and unpaved for long parts, but certainly manageable if that's what you're looking for. I wasn't in that area for long, but until reaching Juticalpa it was a different world. A real underdeveloped, isolated wild west. I'm not as familiar with the route from there to the border.

Security-wise it's tough to gauge. I never had any trouble or felt unsafe in any of my travels, but I was careful to not carry anything valuable in the first place. A few friends were robbed of cameras and phones on popular tourist routes (In Copan, and on a bus to La Ceiba).  Crime is a problem because criminals can operate with impunity, but it's generally gang violence in big cities or robbery in established tourist areas. It'd be hard to imagine a couple of cyclists on your route having trouble as long as you're smart about it. And by smart I mean don't display anything valuable, and if someone does try to rob you do everything they say. They will follow through with threats of violence, knowing they won't get caught.

Geez, now I'm making it sound scary. It's not! Honduras is a beautiful place just cursed by weak institutions. I found locals to be super friendly, and invested in making sure that the few tourists who come off the beaten path have a good experience. Honduran history is fascinating, honduran food is delicious, the beaches are out of this world, and if you like soccer you'll make friends everywhere. Have a good trip!


Matthew Hopkins

Jun 11, 2015, 6:13:35 PM6/11/15
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I passed through along the PAN AM highway about 2 months ago.
Budget and concerns about security meant I stuck to the route and passed through El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua fairly quickly.
I can't say anything about the routes you are choosing, but to add to the other commenter, I never had problems with the people.
They were generally courteous and curious about my travels.
I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable except at one border crossing into Honduras where too many people were jostling to help me even though I didn't need it.
Even that was more over enthusiasm by the people rather than intimidating behaviour. 

The PanAM  is generally very good. Well paved with some sections with bad potholes that would not really worry a cyclist.
There are a few big hills but no really major challenges from what I remember.
I stayed in hotels every night. They are relatively cheap and was the only secure option along my route.
My credit card worked in all the cash machines without problems.
The worst thing for me was the heat.
Resources are limited so food and water are in short supply especially in south east El Salvador and Honduras. (and later on in Panama too)
Make sure you have snacks and water with you.
The bigger towns have all the usual options for evening meals and breakfast though.
I'm sure I don't need to reiterate the comments on security. Keep your stuff away from prying eyes.
I was advised by locals and police to stay indoors after dark, and having seen the news from El Salvador AFTER I left, It is probably good advice.
Again, from what I was told the gangs fight amongst themselves or the Police and generally do not target tourists or cyclist.
Just be sensible.
Apart from the extreme heat, I actually enjoyed travelling along this route
I'm sure you will too.

My blog notes are here if you are interested in reading?


Safe travels.

Dani vivirenbicicleta.com

Jun 12, 2015, 10:19:56 AM6/12/15
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Thx Matthew, nice input!!!
I'm still in Mexico, be safe, keep enjoying ;) Hugs

Ali Burke

Jun 12, 2015, 4:43:20 PM6/12/15
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Hi! We really enjoyed our ride through Honduras about two years ago. No problems at all. Our route was: copan - gracias ( great hiking nearby) - la Esperanza - marcala - la Paz - Tegucigalpa - then back to the pacific coast.

The highland route was fantastic, we highly recommend it... Roads were a mix if paved and not at the time, traffic was sparse.

We weren't great on the route details in our blog, but you can check it out here:


Another good resource is:


A free PDF guide with food route info.


Ali and Glenn

Paul Gareau

Jul 30, 2015, 2:49:33 PM7/30/15
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Very late response, but thanks Ali/Glenn - the Cycle Central America book looks pretty great. Hopefully everyone who needs it will find out about it.

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