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Pico Bonito National Park

Pico Bonito National Park is one of Honduras’ most beautiful national parks. It is part of the “Nombre de Dios” mountain range located on the Honduran north coast, just a few kilometres behind the Caribbean beaches and the coastal town of La Ceiba. The national park was founded in 1987 to protect the vegetation in the upper parts of the area, which consists of 85% virgin tropical forest. The highest peak “Pico Bonito” reaches 2,436 m and is the third highest peak of Honduras. The park is home to a huge range of animal species, such as Tapir, Northern Raccoon, Jaguar, Mountain Lion, Spider, White Faced and Howler Monkey. Different trails are prepared to satisfy hikers, but only special and well-equipped expeditions have a chance to reach the Pico Bonito peak.


Location

Pico Bonito is the highest peak of the “Nombre de Dios” mountain range, which is found on the Honduran north coast, only a few kilometers behind the Caribbean beaches and the coastal town of La Ceiba.


 

Size and Foundation

Pico Bonito National Park was founded in 1987 by law 87 – 87 to protect the vegetation in the upper parts of the area, which consists of 85% virgin tropical forest. At Pico Bonito, law protects some 1,073 km˛ making it the second largest National Park in Honduras after Patuca National Park. More than half of the park is declared as core zone. Naturalists want to expand the area proposing some 550 km˛ more as protected area to the Honduran parliament. The highest peak reaches 2,436 meters, and is the third highest peak of Honduras. The best time to enjoy the spectacular view of the mountains from La Ceiba is in the early morning hours. Normally by late morning clouds have started to hide the mountains.


 

Natural environment and Importance

The slopes of Pico Bonito are very inclined, forming a lot of waterfalls. The vegetation of Pico Bonito begins with tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests are highly endangered habitats all over the world, due to deforestation and uncontrolled development. 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.

Above 1,200 m the vegetation of Pico Bonito begins to change into cloud forest. Cloud forests are mountainous broad-leaf forests. 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. It cools down and condenses. The result is clouds, constant fog and drizzle. Pico Bonito also has some small patches of lowland dry forest on its southern side. Dry forests are very rare in Honduras. These areas are home to many endangered endemic species of plants and birds.

For the local inhabitants of the surroundings of Pico Bonito, the National Park is of outstanding importance, water is the reason. Cloud forests are water reservoirs. The vegetation is collecting the water from the air. When saturated, the water drips from trunks or leaf tips to the ground. The ground is spongy, protected by the vegetation from soil erosion, and is collected in lower and rocky parts of the ground. Even in the dry season, this water reservoir is guarantying a constant supply of water to the 100,000 inhabitants of La Ceiba, as well as for the whole region. The vegetation in Pico Bonito also protects the soil from erosion, and avoids the dangerous avalanches of mud, rocks and water. Uncontrolled masses of mud and water in the rivers where one of the main factors in the damage caused by hurricane Mitch in 1998.


 

Wildlife

As Pico Bonito National Park has many habitats and different eco-systems, it is home to a huge range of animal species. Some species that inhabit the park are Baird’s Tapir, White tailed deer, Northern Raccoon, Nine banded Armadillo, Naked Tailed Armadillo, Jaguar, Mountain Lion, Kinkajou, Spider Monkey, White Faced Monkey, Howler Monkey, Paca agouti, Peccary - Mountain Hog and the River Otter. Many of these species live in the hard accessible core zone of the park. A large number of birds also live in the park. Large numbers of hawks, eagles, kites, doves, loros, hummingbirds, wood-creepers, swallows and loons inhabit the park. Also you will find the Keel Billed Toucan, Highland Guan, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Scarlet Rumped Tanager, White Collared Manakin, Slaty-tailed trogon, the Quetzal and many more.


 

Activities

Different trails are prepared to satisfy hikers, but only special and well-equipped expeditions have a chance to reach the Pico Bonito peak. The slopes are dangerous, and the time required for that is about seven days. There are no trails, no water, and it is not easy to find a guide for the trip. Once done, the reward is a spectacular view over the forest, the Caribbean coast and La Ceiba. Pico Bonito is one of Honduras’ most beautiful national parks and easy accessible from La Ceiba. Enjoy on a day-trip its magnificent flora and fauna. There are various waterfalls up to 25 m high, where you can refresh yourself after your hiking-trip.


 

Accommodation / Visiting times

The visitor’s centre, a rustically wooden house, offers all basic facilities for spending the night. With a four-wheel drive the visitor’s centre is reached in less then one hour from La Ceiba.
The luxurious and exciting ecolodge Pico Bonito is located at the brink of the national park. Enjoy the tranquility of the place and discover the parks fascinating flora and fauna during an unforgettable stay.


 

Private tours