GRACIAS, Honduras – The Celaque National Park in western Honduras has a key ally in the Spanish government’s development cooperation agency, which is promoting that area as a tourist destination and protected zone.
The park, which means “water box” in the language of the local Lenca indigenous people and was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2015, is a protected area that straddles the western provinces of Lempira, Copan and Ocotepeque and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including 285 bird species, 60 of which are migratory.
“We have a great ally in the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), which has come to strengthen and protect the park,” Ulises Soriano, the facility’s public-use coordinator, told EFE.
The Celaque National Park (or “Cacique Lempira, Lord of the Mountains” Biosphere Reserve) boasts Honduras’ tallest peak – Cerro Las Minas, which is around 2,870 meters (9,416 feet) above sea level – and a cloud forest, as well as a wide variety of orchids, ferns, pine trees, mammals, reptiles and insects, Soriano said.
The head of the AECID’s project in Gracias, Jose Luis Cardenas, said Spain’s investment in the park over the past several years exceeded 1 million euros ($1.06 million), adding that that assistance was part of a Spanish debt-conversion program for the Central American nation.
The AECID’s project includes planning, organizational strengthening, site accessibility, trail adaptation and visitor center remodeling.
In the coming months, some campsites also are to be rebuilt for visitors interested in spending the night inside the park.
Water provided by the Celaque mountain range to nearby communities benefits more than 100,000 people, most of whom live in the picturesque colonial city of Gracias.