The majestically misty mountains along the eastern side of the lake make up this 478-sq.-km (297-sq.-mile) park. The base of the park comprises coffee plantations and tropical forests, which turn to pine forest that then turn to cloud forests as the mountain climbs to a height of 2,047m (6,714 ft.). The park is a significant supplier of water to the surrounding communities and contributes more than 70% of the water to Lago de Yojoa. The isolation of the park means that wildlife here is flourishing. Several hundred bird species including keel-billed toucans and resplendent quetzals, as well as more than 50 species of mammals, such as peccaries, tapirs, monkeys, pumas, and jaguars, can be found inside the park. Plus there are loads of orchids, an elfin forest, and a handful of waterfalls.
From the visitor center near Los Pinos, there's access to three main hiking trails, ranging from 1 to 8km (.5-5 miles) in length. There are several other trails into the park from surrounding communities as well.
Like many of the cloud forests in Honduras, this one is nearly impossible to reach, even though it has six entrances. Public transportation to the park is nonexistent and you definitely need a 4WD to go on your own. The main entrance is at the town of Los Pinos. To get to there, take the marked turnoff at La Guama from CA 5 and continue up the steep, bumpy road for about 15 minutes until you reach Santa Elena and then follow the signs until you reach Los Pinos and the visitor center. There are a few rustic cabins (L135/$7/£3.50) for rent if you prefer to stay the night.
Volunteer Opportunities in Parque Nacional Cerro Azul Meámbar -- The Christian NGO Proyecto Aldea Global/Project Global Village (tel. 504/239-8400; www.paghonduras.org) has been in charge of managing Parque Nacional Cerro Azul Meámbar since 1992. Conserving the natural environment, providing sustainable development for the rural communities that live in the buffer zone around Cerro Azul, and helping to jump-start ecotourism projects are just part of the work they do in and around the park. Groups and individuals are encouraged to contact the nonprofit organization if interested in lending a helping hand to one of their numerous projects in the area.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010