Set in a pine-forested highland valley midway between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Siguatepeque (pop. 53,000) enjoys a cool and comfortable climate—a pleasant change for those coming from the steamy north coast. In spite of its long history—the town was one of the first bases for the Spanish in their conquest of Honduras—little colonial-era architecture remains in Siguatepeque. There are few attractions per se to interest foreign visitors, though the invigorating climate and fine countryside may inspire you to spend a couple of days hiking around the hillsides. Many highway drivers stop in Siguatepeque to eat at the buffet restaurants on the highway (my favorite is Granja d’Elia). A mini-mall of sorts right on the highway has clothing stores, a Wendy’s and a pupusería, a Banco Atlántida with ATM, and an Espresso Americano coffee shop, while a bigger mall off the highway has a larger selection of restaurants and shops.
Orientation and Sights
Siguatepeque has two main squares: The one with the church on it is known as the parque, while the other, two blocks west, is called the plaza. The center of town is about 1.5 kilometers off the San Pedro Sula–Tegucigalpa highway. The park has been redone with lots of lovely plants and flowers, as well as a rather bizarre, UFO-like concrete structure, which does not deter the townsfolk from congregating daily. The plaza, on the other hand, is a barren expanse of cement.
Next to the Hospital Evangélico on the edge of town is Calanterique, a 120-hectare park on a hilltop, perfect for a nature walk and for taking in views of town. Those looking for a more active way to pass a sunny afternoon can head to Water Island, a small waterslide park 300 meters south of the main turnoff from the highway to Siguatepeque.
About four kilometers down the highway west to La Esperanza is the village of El Porvenir, a local center for Lenca pottery, sold out of houses and shops on the road.
There is an abundance of places to stay in Siguatepeque, starting with Hotel Zari (tel. 504/2773-0015, US$10.50 s, US$17 d), just off the southwest corner of the park. With newly tiled, clean-smelling private bathrooms, cable TV, fans, hot water, and private parking, the Zari is the top budget option. Some of the hotel’s 53 rooms are in a second building across the street.
Hotel Gómez (tel. 504/2773-0868) has two types of rooms set around the parking lot—the smallish older ones have a fan (US$15 s, US$18.50 d), while those in the new wing have air-conditioning and are modern and spacious (US$21 s, US$27.50 d), with wireless Internet. Some English is spoken.
Hotel Plaza San Pablo (tel. 504/2773- 0700/4020, US$20 s, US$27 d, US$6 more for a/c), on the plaza, has 37 simple, slightly musty rooms, with hot water, TVs, and wireless Internet. The rooms are a bit worn, but the bedding looks relatively new.
The best place to stay in town is the sparkling Park Place Hotel (tel. 504/2773-9212, US$38 s, US$62 d, including breakfast). Don’t let the 1970s exterior fool you—Park Place opened in 2011 and is all shiny new and nice inside. Rooms are outfitted with imported linens, orthopedic mattresses, and flat-screen TVs, and the hotel has private parking, a restaurant, a small swimming pool, wireless Internet, an exercise room, and a computer in the lobby for guest use—all in all, a good value.
If the Park Place is all booked up, there are a couple more higher-end choices that are still pretty good. Estancia Flamingo (tel. 504/2773-9511, US$35–55 s, US$50–55 d, including breakfast) has airy halls and a mix of light and (very) dark rooms. All have air-conditioning, TVs, and wireless Internet, as well as hairdryers and mini-fridges. The hotel is a few blocks from the center of town, best perhaps for those with their own wheels. On the flip side, its location makes for quieter rooms. Prices vary according to the layout of the rooms.
Right along Boulevard Francisco Morazán, Vuestra Casa Bed and Breakfast (tel. 504/2773-0885, US$45 s, US$51 d) is a charming seven-room B&B with a pleasant garden and an outdoor patio where breakfast is served. Room decor is elegant and tasteful, and the double rooms are spacious (worth paying a few bucks more, even if you’re a solo traveler). The one drawback is the traffic noise from the boulevard, which is the main road between the highway and the town center, but it dies down after dark. While the hotel doesn’t serve dinner or lunch, you’re just two blocks from Del Corral Steak Ranch. From the highway, Vuestra Casa is 1.5 kilometers along the main boulevard into town, just after a small bridge, opposite the Panadería Estrella.
A few kilometers outside of town is a new spot for ecotourism and relaxation, the Cabañas El Gran Chaparral (tel. 504/8820-1127, US$75 s/d), surrounded by pine forest. The rustic cabins have furniture of rough-hewn wood and kitchens with hot plates and microwaves, and there are larger (and more expensive) cabins that can sleep up to five. Bicycles (US$5.25 per hour) and ATVs (US$10.50 per hour) are available for rent, as well as pedal-boats and fishing equipment, for use in their man-made pond. To get there, turn into the village of Villa Alicia at kilometer marker 124 on the San Pedro–Tegucigalpa highway. You will pass a church, then the offices of Caritas— keep going straight for another two kilometers to reach the cabins.
Food and Entertainment
La Siguata (tel. 504/2773-9555, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) specializes in Honduran cuisine, serving dishes such as grilled meats, seafood soup, and pork chops in a casual setting. The best deal is during weekday lunch, when they offer an “executive lunch” for US$3.50, including a soft drink.
For some tasty fried chicken, head to Chicken’s Friends (US$3 for a chicken meal) opposite the Park Place Hotel.
Del Corral Steak Ranch (11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. daily), on Boulevard Francisco Morazán, is renowned for its steaks, while Del Corral Snack Bar is a popular place for snacks and coffee in the Del Corral Supermarket.
For a decent cup of coffee in town, the ubiquitous Espresso Americano has a branch 2.5 blocks north of the Banco Atlántida at the corner of the plaza.
Locals also like to eat at Mall Beit Jala, which is home to several restaurants (try Habana-Mex for Mexican and Cuban specialties) and a popular bar, as well as the usual shops.
On the highway to San Pedro, at kilometer marker 118, is a deli-supermarket, Granja d’Elia. All sorts of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and other goodies are available daily until 8 p.m. The adjacent restaurant (6 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), very popular with motorists driving between San Pedro and Tegucigalpa, serves a decent buffet with a wide selection of breakfasts, appetizers, meat and vegetarian entrées, and salads. They now have a hotel on-site as well. Also along the highway is Asados El Gordo, a reliable Honduran chain that sells hugely portioned and reasonably priced steaks. Another popular restaurant along the highway is Pizzeria Venezia (tel. 504/2773-5931, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. daily), serving decent pizza (US$7–9 for a large), as well as a large selection of fresh licuados. The branch in town has closed.
Just past Siguatepeque, at kilometer marker 122, is Villa Verde (tel. 504/2740-1001, 6 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), another restaurant/store combo. The produce is all grown on-site and organic; the fresh juices are especially good. Plants, handicrafts, and Honduran sweets are also for sale, and there is some kids’ play equipment if you have little ones that need to stretch their legs. A few kilometers down the road, at marker 125, is Fred’s Kitchen, which serves up decent versions of the usual food (chicken, beef, burgers) in a pleasant setting.
Five and a half kilometers down the highway to La Esperanza is La Cocina de Comal (tel. 504/2717-1629, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. daily). The food may be the usual Honduran specialties, but the fruit and vegetables are organic, and the restaurant is worth a visit to support the association (La Red Comal) that runs it, a network of producers that are striving for social justice and economic development. They have a store selling food products such as tea, honey, and coffee, as well as handicrafts. There is also children’s play equipment on-site, and it is possible to go for a walk in the woods.
Information and Services
Hondutel on the parque is open 5:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily. Right next door is Honducor, with express mail service available.
Banco de Occidente, HSBC, and Banco Atlántida will change dollars and travelers checks. The latter two also have cash machines.
If you need to get connected, head to Zona Virtual (tel. 504/2773-4135, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 1:30–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., mornings only Sat.). Internet use is US$1 per hour.
Típicos Anardá has a few souvenirs.
Getting There and Around
Siguatepeque is 125 kilometers from San Pedro and 117 kilometers from Tegucigalpa, with well-maintained highway in both directions. Driving toward Tegucigalpa, the steep, winding stretch of highway down into the Valle de Comayagua is known locally as Cuesta La Virgen.
The easiest way to get to San Pedro or Tegucigalpa is to take a US$1.60 taxi ride out to the highway and catch the next bus that comes by in your direction. If you don’t feel like waiting on the highway, however, Empresas Unidas (tel. 504/2773-0149) leaves from the town center and runs rapiditos (minivans) to Tegucigalpa starting at 4:15 a.m., then every two hours, with the last bus departing at 4:15 p.m. (US$3.15, 2.5 hours). To get to Siguatepeque from Tegus, catch the bus in Barrio Concepción in Comayagüela, at the Mercado Mamachepa, in front of the Elektra store. The first bus departs Tegucigalpa at 5:45 a.m., and the last at 5:20 p.m.
Direct buses to Comayagua leave from the same parking lot (US$1.60, 30 minutes).
Kamaldy (tel. 504/2773-3034) has buses to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa for US$8 either direction, departing from the restaurant Don Tiki, along the highway. The first buses depart at 7 a.m., then every 60–90 minutes until 5 p.m. There is one more late-night bus, departing around 8:30 p.m., although we don’t especially recommend nighttime travel in Honduras.
Etul (tel. 504/2773-0033) has buses to San Pedro Sula departing every 30–40 minutes starting at 4:40 a.m., with the last bus departing at 4 p.m. (US$3.15, two hours).
To get to La Esperanza, take a US$1.60 taxi ride to the highway turnoff, a couple of kilometers from the Siguatepeque turn on the way to San Pedro. From the gas station at the La Esperanza turn, Carolina (tel. 504/9945-9240) buses leave roughly every two hours (US$3, 90 minutes). The road to La Esperanza is 67 kilometers, dropping down into the Río Otoro (upper Ulúa) valley, past the town of Jesús de Otoro, and climbing back up into the mountains to La Esperanza.
To get to Jesús de Otoro, catch the bus next to Hotel Puesta del Sol, hourly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (US$1.75, 40 minutes).
A taxi to the highway should cost US$1.60; in town a ride should cost about US$0.50, although it’s possible to walk everywhere.
Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Honduras & the Bay Islands.