After our detour into the capital city of Tegucigalpa for bike repairs, we decided to take the long way out of town by climbing up to La Tigra National Park. We couldn’t find any details for a rideable route through the park, so we just decided to show up and find out.
We arrived at Jutiapa Visitor Centre in the early afternoon and asked about taking our bikes up the service road which leads to El Rosario on the other side of the park. Initially, the park guides said it was prohibited, but after some further prodding and a call to his boss, he said we could pass with our bikes in the morning. We paid $10 USD each for entry to the park and an additional $7.50 USD each for camping. Both of these fees are ten times the rate for Honduran residents. We didn’t have much option other than turning back, so we decided to accept the fees and setup camp. In retrospect, it was totally worth the fees.
Aside from being a touted as a magical cloud forest, La Tigra is a paradise for bird nerds with a decent network of hiking trails. The forest is thick with exotic birds, but I have no idea what to call them. Apparently, quetzals and other rarities can be spotted in the morning before the noisy niños arrive on the minibuses. There are some interesting little mammals running around too, but most of them are pretty hard to spot. We saw some little badger-pig-dog creatures with big eyes which reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Also, for the first time in months, we were able to see the stars on a dark night with very minimal light pollution. We both agreed we had not seen stars like that for a very long time.
We survived a massive downpour inside our little tent before rising to explore La Tigra’s trail network. Stupidly, we didn’t bring any food with us on the trails and found ourselves crawling back to the visitor centre where they serve basic baleadas (and nothing else). Over the course of 18 hours, I ate eleven large baleadas; I think Jenny ate seven.
After five hours of hiking, we could’t face getting on the bikes for the 6km hike-a-bike through the forest, so we ended up camping a second night (for free). We gobbled some more baleadas for dinner and got ready for a start in the morning.
Cycling through the park was an absolute pleasure, but not without some tough pushing. The recent rains had turned the old mining road into a rocky stream. Most of the trail was rideable, but it ended up taking us a few hours to travel the 6km through the park to El Rosario centre on the side.
From there we road down to once prosperous mining town of San Juancito and then climbed back up to tourist friendly Valle de Angeles for some much needed showers and food!