Pulhapanzak / Tegucigalpa / El Rosario, Honduras – How to get a Unimog through cloud forest

Pulhapanzak is said to be Honduras’ most beautiful waterfall with its 42 m fall depth. And really, the cascades of Rio Lindo, to be admired during short strolls from different view points, are pretty. Swimming is better in dry season. Pulhapanzak isn’t far from Lago de Yojoa and costs 50 Lempira entrance fee pp. Camping would be allowed on the shady parking lot for another 50 HNL pp (Cataratas de Pulhapanzak, N 15°01’29.8’’ W 88°00’05.2’’). The CA 5 to the south is being extended to defuse some sharp bends and is partially in good condition. Restaurant and Hotel Granja D’Elia is worth a stop along the highway. The adjacent supermarket sells products of own production (bread, produce) and (expensive) imported delicacies. Dining shall be good in the Italian restaurant. The parking lot would be big enough for camping, but we feel it’s too close to the road, and too noisy. Instead we travel straight through Tegucigalpa, the state capital. We don’t see too much of the one-million-metropolis since there are well-built through-roads.

We decided to give every country a chance, even the Central American ones, so we have to visit a National Park here as well. There are quite a few in Honduras, but many of them resemble each other since they protect the remnants of rain forest, and they don’t have any infrastructure. We decide for the supposedly easiest accessible one, Parque Nacional La Tigra close to Tegucigalpa, and cross Valle de Angeles to reach El Rosario. Roads are getting tight, but the bus is still in front of us. Unfortunately it stops at the town square. Where to go now?

A very European looking pick-up driver points the way and then asks in German: “Is that you car vehicle?” It is. By chance he and his wife are owners of a small facility to rent cabins. He offers to camp in front of his door and to follow him. Since he seems to be busy with his guests he picked up from the bus I skip the usual questions if we could use the road with our vehicle’s size etc. He has seen it, I thought. A mistake. An extremely narrow gravel path in bad condition leads up to the mountain in steep sharp bends. The track isn’t thought for Unimog size, but we make it o.k. There are no means of getting out of the way, but no oncoming traffic as well. After almost half an hour we are on top. We’ve lost the white pick-up, but an old lady shows us where it has disappeared. “It’s only two more minutes”, she encourages us. Two minutes stretch to one hour for a few hundreds of meters. There are trees in the cloud forest, and they’re hanging low. Too low.

I try to guide my husband through a space between a wall and a strong branch – without success. Role reversal: Joerg tries to guide me through the same spot, same result. The unfortunate bough can’t be lifted from below. Eventually Joerg climbs on the cabin roof, lifts the branch and crawls along the roof whilst I slowly continue driving. That worked out somehow, but this was only the first hurdle. In the meantime the cabin-guy appears with a helpful machete. And so Joerg chops us a green tunnel sitting on the roof, defoliates, de-branches and deforests, during me manoeuvring through the bush. Half treetops land on the hood and obstruct my view. After another hour we’ve made our way through the jungle, arrived in front of the facility’s door, and are both completely shattered.

There are not many camping options at La Tigra National Park: Cabañas Mirador El Rosario, N 14°13’13.1’’ W 87°04’46.0’’; they sell home-made fruit wines and jams.

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