Reserva Biológica Yuscarán
The highest parts of the mountains looming above town form a biological reserve covering 4,187 hectares. Peaks inside the reserve include El Volcán (1,991 meters), El Fogón (1,825 meters), and Monserrat (1,783 meters).
The uppermost part of the mountain is covered by a modest cloud forest, much of it secondary growth. An easily spotted trail leaves the dirt road from just below the Hondutel radio tower and heads down into the forest, where you can look out for the many noisy birds living in the reserve. Visitors could pitch a tent easily enough either near the tower or in the woods below. Try to convince the Hondutel vigilante to let you into the compound on the mountaintop for the view across to the forest-covered peak of El Volcán to the west.
A saddle, now cleared of its forest and used as pasture, connects Cerro Monserrat to the main section of the reserve around El Volcán. Beware of camping out in this pasture as the ticks are plentiful—stick to the forest near the Hondutel tower. No obvious trails continue west from the saddle up into the forest toward El Volcán. El Volcán is reportedly best accessed from the aldeas of La Granadilla and La Cidra, on the north side of Reserva Biológica Yuscarán. Take the road out of Yuscarán toward the highway, and look for a well-traveled gravel road turning left (west) three kilometers from town. Off this road, which leads eventually to Guinope in the Valle de Zamorano, a side road turns off left (south) up toward El Volcán. The only trails out this way will be from local hunters.
The trail system in Reserva Biológica Yuscarán and to surrounding attractions can be confusing. To avoid getting lost (and to create local incentive to preserve the forest), consider hiring a local, trained guide. Contact one of the guides in Yuscarán or the Fundación Yuscarán (tel. 504/793-7158, fundacionyuscaran2005 [at] yahoo [dot] com), with an office just off the park, for guides and also for general information about the reserve, the town, and surrounding areas. They can provide you with a map of the five trails they maintain. It’s possible to visit several old mines perforated into Cerro Monserrat and the surrounding hills, as well as take day hikes to a beautiful lake (there’s a photo on display in the Fundación Yuscarán office) and two waterfalls, La Cascada Aurora and La Cascada El Barro.
Getting to Reserva Biológica Yuscarán
From Yuscarán, take the road out toward the Tegucigalpa highway and look for a dirt road turning steeply up to the left (west) just outside of town, past a small quebrada (stream) and little wood house. The road winds precipitously up the mountainside seven kilometers to the Hondutel radio tower atop Cerro Monserrat. Suitable for four-wheel-drive only, and unnervingly steep even with that, the road is walkable in a couple of hours (or an hour by car). Totally exposed in places on the bare hillside, the road offers spectacular views east over the Río Choluteca Valley and into Nicaragua and south down to the Pacific Ocean.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition