TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- How long do you think it would take you to manage to spot more than 400 different bird species flying freely in a completely natural environment? Months, weeks? How about 20 minutes?
Incredible though it may seem, this is the smallest number of birds that you can spot at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras, in the space of a just a few kilometers accommodating more than half of the birds you could spot in the entire territory of the United States – and this bit of information is just the tip of the iceberg, considering that we're only talking about the peripheral area of one of the national parks in Honduras.
Coral Reef in Roatan, Bay Islands. Photo: PMAIB, IHT (PRNewsFoto/ Honduran National Chamber of Tourism – CANATURH)
To many people, speaking of biodiversity is a matter of lists and numbers, so many mammals, birds, plants, etc., which is probably a good mechanism for assessing how rich in species an area or nation is, yet this method has one serious limitation, which is that it requires human contact with these species to document them and add them onto lists, which is a major problem in Honduras considering that the country includes areas where no one has set foot for thousands of years, vast expanses of totally virgin forest impossible to access, as is the case with the Rio Platano Biosphere, declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site, a place where the numbers and lists will never be compiled, comprising part of this reserve of life that science has yet to discover.
Having contact with nature is an immediate experience in Honduras, and small wonder, considering that the country has nearly 25% of its surface area given over to protected areas, besides which the rest of the country is also habitat for thousands of species that live in close proximity to people; to give you some idea, these 27,862 km² of protected areas are the equivalent of the entire area of the state of Massachusetts in the US, and are larger than all of the Republic of El Salvador, or more than double all of the protected areas in Costa Rica.
Swimming in the seas off Honduras is like starring in one of those beautiful National Geographic programs, just a couple of meters offshore as hundreds of colored fish welcome you to their world, and a life vest and pair of fins become your passport to the Paradise of the largest coral barrier reef in the Americas, where Honduras is privileged to have the two places with the most extensive coverage of live coral, myriad beings clustered in a symphony of life, color and beauty, just a few meters from the shore, a splendid reward, along with a perfect tan from swimming in the balmy, crystalline waters of the Honduran Caribbean.
Green mountains, cloud-misted hills, paths and dirt roads in harmony with the environment, deer, monkeys, sloths, macaws, along with more than 7,600 species of flora and fauna all around you, boundless aquariums and nurseries made by nature, where you need only lift your gaze to find delight and know that there are still paradises on this earth.
And if you'd like to take a step further, and help restore what people have damaged, there are all kinds of initiatives you can become involved in to help improve the planet, projects for the protection of tortoises, red macaw nestlings, iguanas, dolphins, nurseries, and all sorts of other projects that not only let you learn more about species, but also will give you the satisfaction of being part of an army of people who care about nature.