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La Ceiba, Honduras, May 2004 – La Ceiba Carnaval

by Jen Campbell and John Everette

Don’t expect La Ceiba’s ruckus festival to be anything like what you would expect in the States. Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day – this is not. Not to say that should be a deterrent in the least.

Expect to be bombarded by a uniquely Latin American party experience. Amidst the loudly chattering, pulsing people, you will find whole animals being cooked in the streets, strange forms of gambling, and your typical useless fair trinkets. For your typical traveler, people watching can be an adventure in itself. You will see all kinds here, from scantily clad women to the older generation wearing traditional clothing. You may have trouble maneuvering through the city as the street vendors’ assortment of t-shirts, shoes, cheeses, toys, toiletries, and many other knick knacks overflow from the sidewalks into the streets. It is quite a site … like nothing you would ever see in North America. La Ceiba Honduras Carnaval

La Ceiba gives a gringo traveler a realistic glimpse of Central American city life. One sees it all here – poverty stricken areas, manicured city parks, a donkey pulling a cart down a dirt road, retail shops selling caskets, and throbbing night clubs to name a few of the things. The party itself was much tamer than we had expected, but being able to experience Latin culture – music, costumes, and dancing – was a treat.

Make sure to go to the festival with hotel reservations, as getting a room upon arrival during Carnaval is next to impossible. We arrived a day earlier than expected (two days before the parade) and needed a room for one night – after being turned away from several hotels, we finally found a room but it was stressful nonetheless. We were relieved that we had made the remaining reservations for Carnaval ahead of arrival.

If we could do it over again, we would have spent the first night or two a little outside of La Ceiba at the Jungle River Lodge. Ideally, we would have stayed the first night at their lodge and then done the half day white water tour in the morning and zipline in the afternoon. Then we could have stayed another night there or headed into La Ceiba (about a 30 minute ride with transportation compliments of Jungle River). Although we did not get to do the white water trip, we did do the zipline tour which was fantastic. The parade did not start until about 1pm in the afternoon, so there would have been plenty of time to get back to La Ceiba on the day of the parade. Some guide books say that the real party is the night before in one of the neighborhoods by the beach. I can not say I agree with that – but I probably would opt to go ahead and get to La Ceiba the night before the parade to experience more than one day of the Carnaval.


Jen Campbell appreciated as a planning guide for her trip to Honduras and offers this article and photo on La Ceiba, Honduras, as a 'share-back' to others. Thanks Jen and John for your time and ideas for other travelers 'yet-to-be.'


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Part 1:  La Ceiba, An Intro
Part 2:  What to do in La Ceiba
Part 3:  Restaurants and Daytrips near La Ceiba
Part 4: This Page

La Ceiba 2
La Ceiba 3
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