La Tigra National Park is an important national park that is the first official park of its kind that was established on 1 January 1980 in the central part of the Francisco Morazán Department, within the western part of the Republic of Honduras.
At first, the park was established as a natural reserve in 1952, and later with the decree No. 976-80 whose principal objective is “The Conservation, Ecologic Preservation and Maintenance of The Hydrologic Potential of this Reserve”, it was converted into a national park.
Still, La Tigra is an important place that has an altitude of between 1,800 and 2,185 m (5,905 and 7,168 ft) above sea level, and with the nearest city being the capital city of Tegucigalpa, it provides some 30% of the city’s necessities, like water, wood, etc, while the cloud forest tropical vegetation, it is a perfect getaway place for locals and tourists alike.
The park covers an area of approximately 23,571 hectares (58,245 acres), and before being proclaimed as a reserve or national park, some large areas started being deforested, which is why the Honduran Government had to act and protect this amazing place.
This was mainly due to the El Rosario Mine which was active at the turn of 20 century and had a road cut across the ridge to Tegucigalpa, thus exposing the forest to the exploitation of its precious timber through logging.
Nowadays El Rosario is just a collection of buildings, some dilapidated, some well preserved, and clinging to a steep hillside, and the former hospital is now used as a visitor center. There are a significant number of oak trees that are thriving here due to the altitude of the park, and as cloud forests are covering the mountaintop, they contain an array of plant life, including lianas, vines, bromeliads, mosses, and ferns.
Organization-wise, the park is divided into two zones, with the nucleus zone of the park being the heartland of the entire park, and the buffer zone encircles the heartland of the park. 8 hiking trails cross the nucleus zone, adding to some 23 km (14 mi) of hiking trails which are perfect for exploring, and discovering this hidden gem in Central America.
As the majority of trails are well-organized and well-marked, the area is readily accessible to visitors, which is why a lot of people are deciding to spend one whole day in this wonderful park. From the fauna, there are 3 species of amphibians, 13 species of reptiles, over 200 species of birds, and 31 species of mammals, making this park an extraordinary one.
Furthermore, with a small bit of luck, those enthusiastic bird lovers that enjoy bird watching can even spot the elusive quetzal, which is a colorful bird with a long tail that plays a central role in Central America’s mythology and it is also the national bird of Guatemala. All in all, being the wild side of Tegucigalpa, La Tigra National Park is something that should not be missed whenever in Honduras.