Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro
Just south of Yoro is the broad, forest-blanketed Montaña de Yoro, in theory reserved as Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro and a protected important local watershed. Environmental protection, however, is limited in practice, with an average estimated 309 hectares deforested annually since 1987, when the park was inaugurated. Local authorities have failed to enforce prohibitions on the growth of communities at the edge of the park, and deforestation continues unchecked.
Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro covers 15,366 hectares, about one-third of which falls in the department of Yoro and the remainder in the department of Francisco Morazán. Although the cloud forest atop the mountain (2,282 meters) is fairly intact, wildlife is scarce, what with the local campesinos frequently venturing up to hunt game.
Tourist infrastructure is pretty much nonexistent, but it is possible to get into what’s left of the forest with local guides. The best access to Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro is via the beautiful little village of San José Machigua, visible from Yoro high on the mountain, where COHDEFOR maintains a small cabin that can house visitors, with prior arrangement through AMY in Yoro. To get there, catch a ride or walk three kilometers from Yoro to the Presa de Yoro, a small dam on the Río Machigua. From here, it takes three hours to walk to San José, located at the transition between pine and broadleaf forest.
A fun way to get to San José de Machigua is on horseback with Cristóbal Vásquez (tel. 504/671-2864 in Yoro). He has a coffee plantation just below San José and charges US$6 per day for use of his horses. He is very knowledgeable about the area. In Machigua, visitors can hire a guide (US$7 a day, plus food for the guide) to take them up to the summit in a full day’s walk.
A variety of flora can be found in Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro, including mahogany, fruit trees, and medicinal plants; fauna is rare. It’s best to avoid the eastern and southern sides of the park, which are known for marijuana production.
For more information on Parque Nacional Montaña de Yoro, either stop in at the AMY office on the second floor of the kiosk on Yoro’s central square or go to COHDEFOR’s natural resources office (tel. 504/671-2355) outside of town, just off the El Progreso road.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition