Once dubbed the "Athens of Central America," the ancient Maya city of Copán lies in the western jungles of Honduras, where its soaring pyramids are today guarded by a team of scarlet parrots. But all of this country's attractions are not historical. Populated by the Garífuna people, the northern coast has a distinctly Caribbean flavor. Towns like La Ceiba are sleepy during the day, but come awake at night with music and dancing. Not far from shore are the Bay Islands, surrounded by pristine coral reefs that are a scuba diver's dream. Mountainous central Honduras has national parks and reserves that are well worth the effort it takes to reach them. In the undisturbed lowland forests you might see a jaguar or a tapir, while in the highland cloud forests you can still spot the holy grail of bird-watchers, the emerald-plumed quetzal.

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