The western part of Honduras is a land far removed from the country's beach mindset, yet it's still one of the most important regions for tourism. It's a place where cowboys share the streets with cars and where orchids grow amid plentiful pine forests. For many, this is the real Honduras, and it technically includes the must-see ruins of Copán; Santa Rosa de Copán, one of the centers of the country's cigar production; the breathtaking Lago de Yojoa; and Gracias, Central America's first capital and the gateway to the cloud forests of Parque Nacional Montaña de Celaque, all of which are covered separately below.

Your first foray into the west will most often be the pulsating capital of San Pedro Sula. While it lies in the corner of the region, you almost always have to come through this vibrant, cluttered city to get anywhere here. As you get farther away from San Pedro Sula, the population thins out substantially, the mountains grow taller, the pine forests become more dense, and the fog and mist thicken. Even deeper into the mountains are numerous Maya Chortí or Lenca villages such as La Campa, which have remained practically unchanged for centuries.