Back in the late 1980’s, Honduras invested in a mega project to produce hydroelectric energy. The country, run by a military government, built a high dam, one of the highest in the world. Its capacity was planned to produce 600 megawatts of energy. The first stage consisted of 4 turbines of 75 megawatts each. The plant started operations in the late 1980s and made Honduras energy self-sufficient. The dam is in one of the most rugged areas in Central Honduras. Roughly it is between Comayagua and Yoro, in the Humuya River basin. For many years, access to the reservoir was restricted and considered part of national security. The second stage of the project was never finished.
Today, access to the dam is available, and you can even tour the power plant. A series of tourism related services have sprung up around the dam, and it has become a popular destination for locals. Most of the activities are below the dam. There you will find small boats that will bring you up close to the foot of the dam. (I always get the creeps when I am just below a dam that I know is full of water on the other side!). Nearby, some hot springs, are available for your enjoyment. There is a small local “pulperia” or neighborhood convenience store on site at the hot springs. Infrastructure is quite basic here.
Although there is not a restaurant on premises, you can get a bag of chips and a soda here. Bathroom facilities are also available, but as is usual in Latin America, they are not particularly clean.
Although there are not regular tours, you can even do white water rafting in the Humuya River below the dam! La Moskitia Ecoaventuras, one of the rafting operators in La Ceiba can organize a trip for you.
The official name of the dam is Francisco Morazan Dam, AKA El Cajon. It gets its name from the National hero, Francisco Morazan, who was a champion of a unified Central America. The reservoir is usually pretty much full towards the end of the rainy season, in September or October. There are a few boating options in the lake, with some tour options available. Large fish farms harvesting tilapia fish are an important economic activity in the area.
Getting to the Francisco Morazan Hydroelectric Dam can be a bit complicated if you are on a public bus. For starters, you can spend the night in Lake Yojoa. There are many great hotels in the Lake Yojoa area. Another option is to spend the night in the city of Santa Cruz de Yojoa. This town has several descent hotels and some restaurants where you can eat. There is even a big zoo! The Joya Grande Zoo is just a few kilometers outside of town. The road to “El Cajon” dam, is not in good shape. It traverses rugged terrain and is winding. The number of potholes in the road is quite generous!
You can arrange a trip to the dam with any of the hotels in Lake Yojoa or Santa Cruz de Yojoa. The trip from Santa Cruz to the dam will take about one and a half hours. Make sure that you bring a bathing suit so that you can enjoy the hot springs at the foot of the dam.
Nearby, El Rancho restaurant offers good authentic Honduran food in a pleasant setting. They also have some nice cabins and a pool. This is a great option if you want to explore El Cajon and enjoy the different things you can do in Santa Cruz de Yojoa.