After my week in Guatemala I arrived in Honduras to begin my 5 week season in the Cusuco National Park in Honduras, working as a Herpetologist for Operation Wallacea. Much of my work was focused on Vipers and Frogs, which up till now I have very little experience with. This was one of the reasons I took the position. Well that and I get another 5 weeks sleeping in my hammock in the forest! After spending a week in base camp getting trained up on all the procedures and getting to know my fellow scientists I was sent off to my 1st satellite camp (Guanales). The next day after arriving at Guanales, I was called over to remove a Mexican Jumping Viper from behind the camp managers tent. This was my 1st ever experience handling a venomous snake, well I say handling. I used a very long and strong snake hook to pick the snake up and move him 50 or so meters... all the while being observed by a dozen school children. My 1st snake removal.... SUCCESS!
After numerous removals from Guanales camp and numerous transects up the mountains of north western Honduras, I returned to base camp for the night to catch up with friends and enjoy the local food and beverages at Buenos Aires which is the local village where all the guides live.
The next camp I was sent too was Cantilles, which was the highest camp in the park, over the mountain to the west of the park. In Cantilles I was reunited with a good friend of mine, Achyuthan (Ash) we then spent the week collecting Wilsons Vipers to collect physical data from. Including one very large female found under the guides hammock!
After a week in Cantilles a 7 hour hike across the mountains brought us to El Danto Camp, where I was to be stationed for 2 weeks. El Danto gave me great experience with frogs, including tree frogs the size of my hand! There were even tadpoles in the bathing area! I also got to see and work with some of the brilliantly green palm vipers which are becoming exceptionally rare in the park. After a great two weeks in El Danto, it was time to end my season in Cusuco National park. A day long trek to Santo Tomas, a secondary village to the north of the park, resulted in me seeing Howler monkeys! I had heard these guys most morning but had never seen any until the final trek.
My 4th yeah in Honduras was as good as always and I would still recommend anyone to visit this beautiful, but underestimated, country!
Having a bit of money left over I decided to visit Guatemala before starting work in Honduras the following week (Honduras and Guatemala are neighbours). Starting off Guatemala City, which is, I must say, far nicer than its reputation. After 2 days enjoying Guatemala City, inducing a very last minute nightclub session and a hammock shopping session I decided (along with a traveling buddy of mine: Myron) I decided to head up to Coban, Coban is a central point in Guatemala to go to other places such as Tikal and Semuc Champey. After wandering around Coban in the morning desperately trying to find a shuttle to Lanquin, I was lead down a somewhat foreboding alley way to a shuttle park..... which fortunately turned out to be genuine.
Lanquin is a local town and hostel hot spot for people wanting to visit Semuc Champey. Lanquin is positioned up in the mountains of Guatemala and the hostel I stayed in (Zephyr Lodge) was slap bang in the middle of these mountains.
I then visited Semuc Champey which is a limestone river network, with may caves and falls and bridges etc. The tour started off going through a partially flooded cave with only a candle as a light source. This candle went out many times, fortunately the guide was a dab hand at keeping his dry! Next was a huge rop swing which left many of the tour group battered and bruised from trying to pull of flips in mid air. To further this battering we had a 10m plunge of a bridge into the river (this was optional, but I obviously did not turn down the chance). After lunch was a trek up to the view point, which resulted in me seeing a Coral snake (very venomous!). Apart fro snakes.. there was also a fantastic view down onto the numerous pools of Semuc Champey. Which I then got to swim in! Absolutely fantastic experience!
A days travel from Lanquin brought me down off the mountains to the flat wetlands surrounding Guatemala's biggest lake: Lago de Izabal. Here I managaed to secure myself some "interesting" hostels for the two nights I was there. 1st was a hillbilly hostel which looked like it was straight out of the everglades... with Burt Reynolds flying around on an Airboat... unfortunatly not present. I was the only guest in this VERY isolated hostel where the only means of...escape? were via a small boat. The 2nd hostel was basically a floating shed for £2 per night. Once again I was the only guest in the hostel, which is a peaceful but odd experiance. A short trip across the border the next day concluded my week long adventure in Guatemala! A beautiful country and g