Cerro Azul Meambar National Park

Just one-hour drive from San Pedro Sula, on the eastern banks of the Yojoa Lake, you will find the Cerro Azul Meambar National Park. The park, which protects an area of 478 km≤, was declared National Park in 1987. Due to its range of elevation from 415 m to 2080 m, the park contains a great biodiversity of species and ecosystems. Humid tropical forest, pine forest and cloud forest are all found in the park. The region around Lake Yojoa is home or temporal host to a huge amount of migratory birds. Over 170 bird species can be found in the park. The visitor's centre is the starting point for different trails, offering hiking opportunities of varying lengths and for people of all physical condition.


Location

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.


 

Size and Foundation

The protected area of Cerro Azul Meambar was declared a National Park by the Honduras government in 1987. The park protects 478 km≤, which ranges from 415 m to 2,080 m above sea level. The area of the park contains a great biodiversity of species and ecosystems due to its 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.


 

Natural environment and Importance

Different forest types ranging from pine forest to tropical rainforest and cloud forest can be found in Cerro Azul Meambar National Park. Because of these different types of vegetation Cerro Azul Meambar is a very species-rich region with high biodiversity. 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.

Cloud forests are mountainous broad leaf forests found from 1,500 m to 2,500 m 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 condenses. The result is clouds, fog and drizzle. The vegetation has got adapted to these climatic and geographic conditions. Epiphytes are able to take water and sometimes even nutrients from the air. 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 and 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 hydroelectric 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.


 

Wildlife

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.


 

Activities

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 visitorís centre is the starting point for three 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 more than three hours are needed to reach the cloud forest. Local guides can be hired, which is a good idea as they are very knowledge of the park and its inhabitants.


 

Accommodation / Visiting times

The Los Pinos visitorís centre offers very good rustic accommodation, which includes basic facilities including solar electricity, simple beds, and regular water and showers. The visitorís centre is located at a distance of approximately 20 minutes from the main road that connects San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. It can be visited nearly year-round with a normal vehicle.


 

Private tours