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Dave and Jan's travels, day 267:
La Tigra cloud forest

10th February
La Tigra is about 45 kilometres and 2 hours from Tegucigalpa. It's a National Park that protects what is known as a "cloud forest". The names pertains to the clouds that envelop the forest more often than not. Because the air is basically wet most of the time, these forests are a riot of different plant, bird and animal species, and are also remarkably muddy.

The journey from Tegucigalpa is not without interest. We stopped along the way at a couple of small towns, much diminished since their glory days last century when this was an active silver mining area. Nevertheless, they're peaceful little villages full of smiley friendly people. After the second such village - Villa de Angeles - the already heavily potholed road gives up all pretence of being paved and turns into straightforward dirt.

Hurrican Mitch came through this area a couple of years ago and left heavy footprints. Swollen rivers throughout the region left few bridges intact. Most of the bridges you see are built to the identical pattern from identical brick red girders, but this part of the world was obviously low priority, and in a couple of places the bridges are still out and the diversion simply goes through the lowest point of the river that's reasonably close and more or less passable.

The next village is Juancito, which appears about 11 kilometres into the dirt, after a couple of unsignposted and highly missable turns. The only solution is to ask everyone you pass if you're on the right road. Once we reached Juancito, we offered three local girls a lift up the last four, steep, kilometres to our destination, La Rosario. This proved to be an inspired move, because the next junction has a six foot high sign which clearly signposts La Rosario to the right, whereas the road that actually goes to La Rosario is of course the one to the left.

Beluga rose to the challenge of some very steep, muddy and winding trails with it's accustomed ease, and much later we offloaded our guests. We strolled into the "visitor centre" and found our accommodation for the night. Eventually we also procured enough blankets to avert hypothermia. Then we strolled down to the local diner, which seems to be where the action's at of an evening in La Rosario. The diner is run by a matronly and jolly woman named Elvira. Each night, a dozen or so locals gather in Elvira's parlour to watch her portable TV, drink a beer or two and generally hang out. We arrived for dinner, pre-booked, and discovered that the Honduran National Park Service share one characteristic with United Airlines. That is, an inability to tell each other that Jan is a vegetarian.

Still, Elvira rose to the occasion: whereas David ate rice, beans and chicken, Jan had rice, beans and eggs. We returned the next day for breakfast, where David had rice, beans and eggs, and Jan's diet became monotonous. We managed to find someone who worked at the lodge from whom we could borrow the key we needed to regain access to the lodge.

The next day we set out to walk in the cloud forest (about time too - Ed). It has to be said that this was beautiful, with plunging valleys swathed in green and a host of different flowers, ferns and trees on all sides. The clouds masked a lot of the scenery first thing, giving us an atmospheric and authentic start, but as the day went on these burned off and we also saw the place bathed in light. We walked to an impressive waterfall and back. One disappointment was that we saw practically no wildlife, but we certainly heard a lot and throughly enjoyed the walk and the views. It's amazing how even several months after our US National Park backpacking phase, I still get a warm glow of pleasure out of climbing a hill without a tent on my back.


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Cloud Forest