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La Tigra National Park

La Tigra is situated just 11 km away from the Honduran capital city of Tegucigalpa the largest of the few remaining natural areas around Tegucigalpa it is refered to as `The Lungs of the City í, with a total extension of about 329 km≤. Itís the oldest Honduras national park being declared from a former forest reserve (since 1958) in 1980. La Tigra stands for the female jaguar commonly called commonly La Tigra all over Central America.

On the lower parts of the mountains of La Tigra the vegetation consist of conifers (pine forests). Around 1500 meters the cloudforest begins. 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 Caribean air that is forced to climb the mountains. It cools down and condense. The result is clouds, constant 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 do 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.

La Tigra is of outstanding importance for the capital city Tegucigalpa providing some 40 % of its drinking water.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 and protected by the vegetation from soil erosion. The water is collected in lower and rocky parts of the ground. This water reservoir guaranties a constant water supply to the Tegucigalpa area even in the dry season.

One of the most remarkable species in La Tigra is the cypress (Podocarpus oleifolius), an evergreen species that stands out for its unique broad leaves; it is found mostly in South America and reaches its northern range limits here in Honduras. Also noticeable is the presence of such trees as aguacatillo, one of the Quetzals main food sources, mountain oak (Quercus skinneri), gorila (Clusia salvinii), liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua), pine tree (Pinus maximinoii and Pinus pseudostrobus), shrubs such as Rodolentia nebulosa, and ferns such as Pteridium aquilinum and Alsophila salvinii. The latter being an endangered species.

Cloud forests do not have as high biodiversity as rainforests, but they are home to many endemic species making cloudforest reserves of high importance for many species survival. Reptiles form the group with the smallest number of species in La Tigra. There are 3 amphibian and 13 reptile species, 2 of which are rare and 2 poisonous (Micrurus nigrocinctus and Bothrops godmani). Outstanding species within this group are the showy green lizard (Sceloporus malachitichus), thought by locals to be poisonous, and the rare earthworm snake (Typhlops costaricensis).

The second largest group is mammals, with 31 species, 6 of which are endangered, 2 threatened, and 2 are considered rare. The most outstanding of the mammals are the felines, represented by the Jaguar, Ocelot and the Margay Cat. Peccaries, Bairds Tapir, Agoutis, Coatis, and Armadillos are a few more of the mammals found in La Tigra.

The bird group has the largest number of species. The park has a total of 34 families with 171 species, 42 of which are only found in the cloud forest and 27 migratory species. Some of themare endangered or threatened, as in the case of great curassow (Crax rubra) and trogon family (family Trogonidae), which includes the Resplendent Quetzal, the mystic and famous bird of the Mayas and Aztecs.

Visitors interested in viewing the Quetzal will have better luck in the reproductive season between March and May. Normally completely hidden in the dense vegetation of the cloud forest, during this time the males are very active and call alot as they are trying to attract a female.

La Tigra has two entrances and visitor centres. The best facilities are found at the El Rosario entrance. Here is a visitors centre, with maps and area information. In the old mine hospital you will find a lodge with 8 rooms with private bathroom. A cafeteria can be opened on request of groups. Camping is also possible, with use of bathroom facilities of the lodge. The other entrance Jutiapa, provides a visitors centre where you can camp if you have your own camping gear, there is bathroom facilities also at Jutiapa.
La Tigra has a good trail system. There are 6 trails 4 can be accessed from the Jutiapa Visitors Center and two from the El Rosario Visitors Centre. These trails have look-out spots, rest areas, and picnic areas. Trails vary in length from 1 hour to 4 or 5 hour hikes. In addition to these six trails there is an access road. That joins the visitors centres at Jutiapa and El Rosario, to hike this takes a good 3 hours.

For tours check out our private tours.