The Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve is located a few miles west of La Ceiba. It is part of the Honduran National Parks system, and consists of a marine area with beaches, mangrove canals and estuaries, and a forested area. Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve is one of iconic references of La Ceiba, and offers a unique opportunity to interact with nature and history. The area was once part of the farming grounds of the Vacaro Brothers Company, which later became the Standard Fruit Company (Dole) and was home to an extensive coconut plantation that was property of the fruit company. The area is encompassed within 13225 hectares.
During the height of the Fruit Company days in Honduras, railroads where the only regular means of transportation within the North Coast of Honduras, and the Community of Salado Barra was part of the railroad network that the Standard Fruit Company Railroad served. Unfortunately, the railroad in Honduras is now history, there is no service left in the area, and as a matter of fact, there are no railroad tracks left in most of the territory. There is one small exception though! The tracks between the town of La Union, in the Municipality of El Porvenir and the community of Salado Barra are not only still operational, there is actually regular train service on this short 9.5 km stretch of railroad tracks. This small, very funky train is actually the only way to get to the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve.
The train ride in the funky old “banana train” will take you through some agricultural land, mainly used as pasture for cattle, before entering the limits of the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve. At the end of the railroad track you will arrive at the official Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. Here, after doing the proper registration and paying your entrance fees, you will be able to start your adventure of this lovely area where you will explore mangrove canals, see dozens of different bird species, alligators, monkeys and if you are really, really lucky, you might even catch a glypse of the Caribbean Manatee, the icon of the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge.
Because of the limitations and restrictions that are due to the railroad, which commences operations at 7 in the morning and shuts down at 5 in the evening, the time you will be at the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve will be limited to that schedule. In order to make the best of your experience at Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve, I suggest you plan on being at the train station in La Union at least 10 minutes before 7:00 a.m., to insure that you will be arriving on the first train in. If you miss the first train, you will have to wait until 8:00 a.m. which is the minimum time the train will take to be back in La Union. You will have to take the last train out, which is usually around 4:00 p.m.
The Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve is managed by an NGO called FUCSA (Fundacion Cuero y Salado). It is always a good idea to call them in advance and make your reservations at least one day in advance. Their offices in La Ceiba are located on Avenida 15 de Septiembre, between Avenida San Isidro and Avenida La Republica, almost across the street from the “Edificio Lovable” and about two blocks from Central Park in La Ceiba. Their contact information is: Tel.: (504) 2443-0117/2440-2707, Email: [email protected]; [email protected] , and web page is: www.fundacioncueroysalado.org