This article highlights the Cerro Azul Meambar (also known as PANACAM), one of Honduras’ most beautiful national parks.
When I described my rowing experience at Lake Yojoa, I mentioned how this body of water is surrounded by two national parks.
One of those parks is called Cerro Azul Meambar or PANACAM (because of its Spanish initials). After taking in the immensity of the lake, we paid a visit to the park. By no means this was a comprehensible visit. If I remember correctly, we were a total of two hours (maybe a little bit more) inside the park. This was more of a taste of Honduras’ rain and cloud forests.
If you are into hiking, birding, or wildlife viewing, this is the perfect place for you. Due to the range of elevations encapsulated in this wild pocket, there are several vegetation levels. Each level shelters different mammal species. The abundance of birds is another characteristic trait of the park. Small brooks and waterfalls complete the picturesque panorama. And, did I mention the trails are in very good shape?
We entered the park through the Los Pinos Visitor’s Center. This is where you can get hiking, lodging, and general information about the park. You can hike by yourself but hiring a guide may be a good (and cheap) idea (but they usually only speak Spanish).
After watching the many hummingbirds flying around the visitor’s center, we braved up for the walk. The longer trail in the park is called El Sinai. We only hiked part of it since it was pretty late and daylight was fading quickly.
The following picture shows the entire El Sinai Circuit. It is 7km long and can take 4 to 5 hours to complete. This trail takes you to the cloud forest but you need to walk about 3 hours to reach it. We made it to one of the cascadas (waterfall, near the toucan’s beak).
The walk was interesting. I have hiked in every Central American country except Nicaragua. Believe me, this park has nothing to envy those in other countries. This is as pristine, lush, and abundant as a rain forest can get.
It has great views.
From one of the miradors (viewpoint), it was possible to see Lake Yojoa. It was remarkable to admire the vivid blue lake in the morning and then, observe how its colors change when the sun starts to kiss the surface.
Water is everywhere.
During the short hike, I saw rivers, streams, and waterfalls. This is what makes this place a biodiversity hotspot. The purring sound of water followed us at every moment.
I felt like I was inside a movie.
Make an effort to hike uphill with a wounded knee. Cross hanging bridges. Pass near huge boulders. Almost getting lost while returning to the visitor’s center. Yes, all these sound like the script of a movie. However, these are some of the events we had to conquer during the hike. A rainforest is always full of surprises.
I saw tons of birds.
Ok, I don’t have evidence. No, I wasn’t hallucinating after an extraneous day. I am not sure how many hummingbird species I saw. I only know it was fascinating to see them moving their wings 60 times per second (fact). There are about 17 species of hummingbird (and about 150 other bird species) in the park. I really need to go on a birding tour someday.
Places like this are the ones that make a country special. This is why I believe each country has a wealth of offerings for each visitor. If you are after a rainforest experience, this is an option. You can combine a visit to the park with a visit to the lake. Whatever you chose to do, I am sure it will be memorable.
Cerro Azul Meambar Details
- The visitor’s center is reached by following the signs in the town of La Guama.
- Bring food and drinks if you are planning a long hike. The visitor’s center has a restaurant and a small store but the selection is minimal.
- Come prepared for the rain (bring a poncho).
- Start your hikes early during the day.
- You can camp or stay at the PANACAM lodge (at very affordable rates).
- You can do a day trip to the park from any of the lodges close to Lake Yojoa shores.
- Trails like Los Vencejos and Venado are short and offer a good insight into the park’s ecosystem.
- When hiking by yourself, pay attention to your surroundings. When we were returning to the visitor’s center, we almost got lost because we arrived at a 4-way intersection (no signs). We picked the correct trail after thinking hard for about 5 minutes. Try to avoid awkward moments by paying attention.
- Remember Honduras has similar national parks. Consider hiking more trails in this amazing country.
Have you visited Cerro Azul Meambar National Park? Let me know in the comments section below.