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Honduras -- If you want to visit a cloud forest while trekking through Central America, hopefully you'll check out Parque Nacional La Muralla in Olancho, Honduras. Only ten years old, this park has one of the better infrastructures in Honduras, allowing visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty and richness of Honduran tropical forests.
When you arrive in La Union, the closest town to the park, give yourself a day to set up the transportation and guide service. (You can travel to the park on your own, but a local service has been set up which helps the community and provides invaluable details and assistance for the traveler). Guide service starts at 30 lempiras or lemps, though this will likely increase some in 1997. Prices are negotiable.
Check in at the Forest Service office (COHDEFOR) in town. They are in charge of the park and can relay current information. If you're headed to the park, they might be able to give you a ride. The U.S. Peace Corps has a long relationship with the park, so it may pay to seek out the local volunteer as well.
There are three hotels and hospedajes in town (cost is 30-40 lemps per room). With the numerous puperias, you can't starve if you decide to camp - a great option in the park itself. Stop at the bakery Reposteria Ruth. The owner, Salvador, makes some really tasty goodies.
La Union is a cinch to get to. However, the nine miles from the town to the park entrance can be an adventure. There is no scheduled transpiration. Without a car, travelers still have a few options:
La Muralla maintains about 25 kilometers of developed trails of varying degrees of difficulty. It also has two campsites. You can spend a good weekend just wandering the trails.
Nature abounds and if you're lucky you'll see a great diversity of wildlife. The most common bird life are the local Central American species, but the area also attracts North American migrants. The resplendent quetzal is a year-round resident. Some people say quetzals are more abundant and more easily observed here than in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. Quetzals are most observable February-April when they are breeding and raising their chicks.
Most of the cloud forest mammals are nocturnal, arboreal or both. Don't be disappointed if you get skunked in your search to find the mammals. Common animals you may see are coatimundis, agoutis and monkeys. You may even find tracks of deer or ocelot.
La Muralla is incredibly beautiful and boasts rich ecosystems. Wherever your interests lie, La Muralla has something for you. So if you find yourself in Honduras, you should check out Parque Nacional La Muralla.
The author serves as a member of the US Peace Corps in La Union. You can write to him at Cuerpo de Paz, La Union, Olancho, Honduras, Central America.
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