On the eastern side of Cerro Azul/Meámbar , gathering a large part of the mountain’s water, is the massive Represa General Francisco Morazán, otherwise known as El Cajón Dam. Completed in 1985, this huge dam on the Río Humuya supplies a good portion of the country’s electric power.
The watershed of El Cajón is severely deforested, a fact that gravely threatens the long-term viability of the dam. The absence of trees reduces the amount of water captured by the surrounding watershed and has also led to massive soil runoff from the deforested hillsides, which can destroy the dam machinery. Despite tree-planting campaigns and the almost superhuman efforts of Aldea Global, the situation shows little sign of improving.
Though perhaps not on top of the list for most tourists, El Cajón Dam may hold some interest for anyone with some time on their hands or a particular interest in monumental engineering. The dam administration offers tours of the dam’s inner workings on weekends—get there by 10 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday, and ask the guard to call ahead for a tour. The tours, guided by young engineering students, are reportedly quite fascinating for those so inclined.
Word has it that a couple of tour boats now cruise the lake behind the dam every day, although no details were available.
The easiest way to reach El Cajón Dam is by private car, turning off the San Pedro Sula–Tegucigalpa highway 56 kilometers from San Pedro, toward Santa Cruz de Yojoa. Just before reaching Santa Cruz, a well-maintained side road turns toward the dam, 23.5 kilometers farther on. After 12 kilometers, at the crest of where the road crosses a ridge into the Río Humuya watershed, you’ll reach an Army gate, where visitors must register and receive a written pass. Show the pass at a second Army post, 3.5 kilometers down the hill, and continue down to another gate, which the guard will open to let you pass.
Just below the gate is a fork—turn to the right and wind up and around the edge of a hillside to the top of the dam, four kilometers farther. Here you can park your car, wander out across the top of the massive structure, and peer over the side for heart-stopping views down to the dam’s base, well over 200 meters straight down. At one side of the entrance to the walkway is a monument to the 25 workers who died during the dam’s five-year construction. Guards can be a bit reluctant at times to let in visitors; PANACAM can arrange tours for groups.
It is possible to reach the dam by bus from Santa Cruz de Yojoa, though visitors must stop to register themselves at the first army post, then wait for another bus or a jalón farther on.