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Patuca National Park

Declared in 1999, the Patuca National Park is one of the newest national parks in Honduras. It is located in the very east of Honduras near the Nicaraguan border and covers 2,200 km². Together with the Rio Platano Biosphere and the Tawanka Reserve it forms the largest tropical rain forest remaining intact in Central America. Patuca is of great importance for many endangered species with wide-ranging territorial needs such as the tapir, the jaguar and the giant anteater. Toucans, red and green macaws, pink herons and other exotic birds enrich this forest. Patuca National Park is very remote and hard to access. The best option is to travel with a tour operator.


Location

The Patuca National Park is located in the east of Honduras, close to the town Catacamas in the Olancho department.


 

Size and Foundation

The Patuca National Park covers an area of 2,200 km². Established in 1999 by the legislative decree no. 157-99, it is one of the newest National Parks in Honduras. Together with the Río Plátano Biosphere and the Tawanka Reserve they form the largest tropical rain forest remaining intact in Central America. It extends from northern Honduras into Nicaragua, covering an area of about 12,000 km² comparable to ¼ the size of Switzerland.


 

Natural environment and Importance

The Central American land bridge, although representing a mere 1% of the earth's surface, harbours 10% of the plant and animal species known to man today. Migrating flora and fauna from both the northern and the southern hemispheres contributed to this rich biodiversity found in the region.

Patuca National Park mostly consists of tropical rainforest. Tropical rainforests are broadleaf forests situated in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Tropical rainforests are highly endangered habitats all over the world. 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.

The natural resources of the Patuca National Park are under pressure, from logging of the areas valuable timber, from settlers using slash and burn agriculture and the expansion of cattle farming in the region. Also as the local populations grow, more and more alternative, sustainable sources of income are needed. Eco Tourism is such an alternative. By visiting the national park you are contributing to the local economy, this is very important.


 

Wildlife

Patuca National Park is of great importance for many endangered species with wide-ranging territorial needs such as the tapir, the jaguar and the giant anteater. Here is one of the last strong holds in Honduras of these species and many more. This area is going to play an important part in there survival in the region. Toucans, red and green macaws, pink herons and other exotic and beautiful birds such as the king vulture and the harpy eagle also enrich this rich forest.


 

Activities

Visiting the Rio Patuca area is an unforgettable experience. The park is very remote and hard to access. It can be visited independently, but the best option is to travel with a tour operator. By visiting this area you play an important role. You are helping to protect and save this unique and beautiful area and all the species that live here.


 

Accommodation / Visiting times

Journeys to this region should only be started with highest respect for people and nature. Tolerance, flexibility, curiosity and physical fitness are an advantage. Visitors with little tropical experience shouldn’t underestimate the hot and humid climate. Please notice, that you will lodge in very basic guesthouses.