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Honduras' Sierra de la Botija
by Chris Humphrey

June/Junio 2000

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This little-known forest mountain region near the border of Nicaragua is one of the great undiscovered treasures of southern Honduras. Much of the forest is a pine and oak, while seven peaks above 1500 meters have patches of cloud forest on top. On the lower slopes descending into Nicaragua are patches of primary tropical dry forest, a rare find these days in Honduras. The highest elevation is 1735 meters. As of early 2000, the Honduran government is considering declaring the area a natural reserve covering around 10,000 hectares. The mountains here give birth to the Rio Coco, Central America's longest river.

The forest of Sierra de la Botija are really excellent for spotting birds of all kinds, blue morpho butterflies, and several mammals (even a jaguar not long ago, though it seems to have moved on). White-faced monkeys are seen all over the forest. Several waterfalls are found in the sierra, including La Cascada de la Mina, near an old mine shaft, and La Loma del Salto.

In 2000, Valerie Peters, a Peace Corps volunteer was hard at work in the forest with a group of locals building an interpretive trail up to one of the cloud forest peaks, Cerro de guila. Plenty of less well-trod trails criss-cross the forest. The owner of Restaurante La Exquisita in San Marcos runs a nature refuge called Ojochal in the mountains, with a stone cabin for visitors. Ask at her restaurant in San Marcos for details.

The best access to the mountains is via the village of Duyusupo, reached by twice-daily buses from San Marcos. From here locals will happily guide visitors anywhere they'd like to go in the park, including up Cerro de guila or to the waterfalls. Another way in, closer to the source of the Rio Coco, is taking the highway back toward Choluteca, and turning off to the aldea of Comali. The Cohdefor office in San Marcos can supply more information on the park, and may be able to help out with rides.

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Chris Humphrey is the author of Honduras Handbook, which is being revised for its second edition due out later this year. The author can be reached via email: chumphrey@compuserve.com

 

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