Cerro Azul Meambar National Park
Just one and a half hours drive from San Pedro Sula, on the eastern banks
of the Yojoa Lake, you will find the Cerro Azul Meambar National Park.
The region around Lake Yojoa is rich in different habitat types, it is
home or temporal host to a huge amount of migratory birds. Cerro Azul
Meambar works as a retreating area for a lot of fauna species due to the
increased human activity around the lake.
The protected area of Cerro Azul Meambar was declared a National Park by the Honduras government in 1987. The park protects 478 km square which ranges from 415 mts to 2080 mts above sea level. The area of the park contains a great biodiversity of species and ecosystems due to itís range of elevation. Humid tropical forest, pine forest and cloud-forest are all found in the park. From different points of the upper regions you can enjoy a magnificent view over Yojoa Lake and far down into the Sula valley.
Humid tropical rainforests are broad-leaf forests situated in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Tropical rainforests are highly endangered habitats all over the world, due to deforestation and uncontrolled development. Humid tropical rainforests have the highest biodiversity of all habitats on earth, being home to millions of different and many still undiscovered species. The genetic pool is one of the most important natural resources present on earth, winning more value every day due to the advancing biotechnology. Scientists have found on one hectare of rainforest some 200 different tree and shrub species. On one big rainforest tree biologists counted 54 species of ants, more than in the whole of England.
One of the secrets of the biodiversity of tropical rainforests is the appearance of a vertical organization of species. Up to five different levels of plants, including the forest canopy, are found. Each level is formed by specific species, and is populated by different animals.
Cloud forests are mountainous broad leaf forests found from 1500 meters to 2500 meters above sea level, depending on the local topography. The clouds are the product of the high altitude and the resulting cooler temperatures of the mountains, this builds a natural barrier for the hot and humid Caribbean air that is forced to climb the mountains. The air cools down and condense. The result is clouds, fog and drizzle.
The vegetation has got adapted to these climatic and geographic conditions, for instance epiphytes. Epiphytes are able to take water and sometimes even nutrients from the air. Bromeliaeds (a typical family of the neotropics) and Orchids (the largest plant family in the world ) are examples for typical epiphytes. They should not be confused with parasitic plants. Epiphytes are not taking any nutrients or water from their host plants as parasites (for example the mistletoe) do; they are just using them as a seat. Lichens and mosses complete the coverage of trunks and branches; it seems like there is no space in the cloud forest without plants.
Cerro Azul Meambar National Park is of great importance to the surrounding communities. Water and electricity are the main reasons. Cloud forests are water reservoirs. The vegetation collects the water from the air. When saturated, the water drips from trunks or leaf tips to the ground. The ground is spongy, it is protected by the vegetation from soil erosion. The water is collected in lower and rocky parts of the ground. This water reservoir is guarantying a constant water supply to the surroundings towns and also for the biggest hydro-electric power plant in the country. El Cajon, a huge dam, its reservoir receives 50 % of the waters of Cerro Azul Meambar. 30 % of the water flows into Yojoa Lake, and another 20 % serves as drinking water for the region.
Cerro Azul Meambar is home to a diverse animal population due to itís, range of elevations and eco-systems. Jaguars, Ocelots, Peccary, Coatis, Bairds Tapir, Howler Monkeys, White Faced Monkeys, Spider Monkeys these are but a few of the 50 mammal species that are found in the park. Many of these species make there home in the steep, inaccessible upper regions of the park, this area provides a perfect safe haven away from people and development.
Over 170 bird species are found in the park. In the lower regions you will find Keel-billed toucans, Motmots, Oropendulas, Tanagers, Orieles and many more tropical rainforest species. The upper regions are home to the Green Toucanet, varies species of the Trogon family which includes the Quetzal and most of the endemic cloud-forest species.
During a visit to Azul Meambar, a lot of people compare the region with the gardens of Eden. The landscape is marked by an innumerable amount of small brooks and waterfalls that are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. The Los Pinos visitors centre offers very good rustic accommodation, which includes basic facilities including solar electricity, simple beds, and regular water and showers. Local guides can be hired, which is a good idea as they are very knowledge of the park and itís inhabitants. The visitorís centre is the starting point for different trails, offering hiking opportunities of varying lengths and for people of all physical condition. The shorter hikes will take you through Tropical Rainforest and pine forest. Longer hikes of up to 3 hours are needed to reach the cloud-forest.
For tours check out our private tours.