Mount Celaque.

It is a nation teeming in natural beauty. Inland Honduras, is predominantly mountainous or covered in on-going hill terrain. These heavily forested mountains stretch up into the clouds, whereupon one can actually see the tops of Pine trees poke out through the misty haze. The haze gathers upon each and every mountaintop. They form low hanging clouds. Honduras itself as mentioned, is covered almost entirely by this astonishing mountainous landscape. I recall standing at the top of one of the gargantuan hilltops of the Mount Celaque region in Lempira department. A waterfall erupted majestically from across the deep gorge lying between the opposite mountain and us. I have never stood as quite so literally upon the edge of a cliff like I did then, nor have I encountered such a deep drop from any cliff top. An ocean could have fitted itself within that vast expanse; the overwhelming ‘drop’ that held such height one could not possibly see the bottom of the gorge below. I dread to think how high up we actually were in those beautiful mountains. The small group of us just stood in silence – with our eyes upon the entire landscape. Filled with admiration, it was like gazing at a never-ending oil painting; I myself could simply not believe the amount of trees. The sheer mass of Pine trees ‘bodged’ and packed together in a wild, timeless formation looked almost akin to a modelled set. It appeared as if someone ‘almighty’ had created the mountains, one could imagine that he or she possessed an abundance of standard model conifer trees and just wedged each of them into an endless onslaught of greenery. The trees in the Honduran mountains stand by the thousands. Picture a place where the majority of towns are surrounded by hills, which reach upward into the skies until their tops disappear, and then extend themselves into the distance as far as the eye can see. This is certainly true of the large town ‘Gracias’ (https://lempiratimes.com/2020/02/23/gracias-a-nice-part-of-the-world/), situated within Lempira department, western Honduras. It was in this place, that I spent the bulk of my time during those glorious three months during the long summer of 2014.

The above text, is an excerpt from a diary that I kept during my first adventure in Honduras, 2014. It captures Mount Celaque rather adequately – if I may so so myself.

The highest point of Honduras.

Celaque Mountain National Park is situated within the separate departments of Lempira, Ocotepeque and Copan – in the west of Honduras. The mountains cover a grand total of 26,631 hectares, with Celaque offering its visitors a wealth of geophysical, ecological, biological and cultural riches. Its summit is reached at Cerro Las Minas, towering at 2,849 meters and is the highest point in Honduras. One can gaze across the areas surrounding the park all the way over to the Pacific Ocean, El Salvador and several of Honduras’ distant volcanoes. Reaching the summit can only be obtained via a hiking adventure in an untouched pristine environment. The Santa Lucia Waterfall, which can be seen from Gracias during most of the year, is iconic of the beauty of Celaque and its surrounding region.

Celaque Mountain National Park, stands as the most diverse and ecologically significant area located within western Honduras. The region boasts the country’s highest point as well as its largest cloud forest. Celaque is a rich ecosystem within which many rare species of flora and fauna flourish. Pristine hiking trails, serviced camping facilities and extensive bird-watching opportunities in the largest cloud forest in Honduras are just some of the experiences that Celaque offers to its visitors. The mountain communities are inhabited by people of mostly Lenca origin (https://lempiratimes.com/2020/03/31/pre-columbian-honduras/) . The traditions, mythology and elements of the Lenca identity are an attraction for national and foreign visitors.

Its 26,321 hectares are home and refuge for thousands of species of plants, animals and fungi. To date, 1,500 species of vascular plants, 70 species of mosses, 70 species of terrestrial and flying mammals, 27 species of amphibians, 47 species of reptiles, 287 species of resident and migratory birds, and more than 200 species of fungi, 18 of them edible, have been documented.  Yet, whilst previous studies have helped to list the many species of animals and plants within Celaque, the full biodiversity of Celaque has yet to be recorded or described.

A short video (in Spanish) capturing the beauty and ecological importance of Mount Celaque, in which the local birdwatcher Edwin Miranda appears – a close friend of my own friend Francisco Rovelo. https://lempiratimes.com/2020/03/02/birds-of-honduras-with-frank-rovelo/

Information obtained from following website (official site of Mount Celaque): https://celaque.org/en/home/

Published by Ben Anson

Young writer with a passion for Latin American and Caribbean affairs.

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