Two or three hours of stiff hiking from Belén Gualcho, via the aldea (village) of El Paraíso, takes a visitor to the spectacular, 50-meter Santa María de Gualcho waterfall, up a narrow canyon on the Río Negro. A guide is necessary to find the trail. COHDEFOR workers José Alonso de Diós and Juan Alberto Martínez, who live in El Paraíso, charge US$5 to guide the five- or six-hour round-trip.
La Mohaga, about a three-hour hike from Belén, is a good day hike, to see both this lovely little village (known for locally made wine) and the spectacular scenery on the walk. To get there from Belén, take the main road out of town, and before the houses stop, turn left uphill. Continue up for an hour, and then the path levels off, with fine views. Pass two junctions, sticking to your left at both. It’s usually possible to sleep in the community building across from the pulpería in La Mohaga if you get there late in the day.
From La Mohaga you can head back to Belén, or if you want to continue for more than one day, ask locals to point out the trail for Hojalaca, and from there on to Rancho Pericón and then to San Sebastián in a few hours, where you can spend the night and continue on the next day to San Manuel Colohete and Gracias. It’s possible to walk from Belén Gualcho to San Sebastián in six hours if you keep up a good pace. Part of this walk is on portions of an old camino real, or Spanish royal road.
Adventurous hikers can find guides up into Sierra de Celaque from Belén Gualcho, and from there continue down the far side to Gracias. This is best done with a guide.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition