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Rio Blanco National Park

Getting Here & Around | Activities

Location: About 30 miles west of Punta Gorda between the villages of Santa Cruz and Santa Elena on the road to Jalacte.

The Rio Blanco National Park (RBNP) is in the Mayan Mountain Forest Reserve located in western part of the Toledo District. It encompasses 105 acres of land surrounding a spectacular waterfall approximately 100 feet wide and 20 feet high on the Rio Blanco River. The Rio Blanco is a tributary of the Blue Creek and Moho River, which flows into the Gulf of Honduras.

The Rio Blanco National Park lies within a sub-tropical wet forest biome, creating high biodiversity of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as: the jaguar, ocelot, margay and river otter, among others. The area primarily consists of broadleaf, secondary forest at varying stages of succession due to the milpa-style agriculture practiced in the area in the past. There is a high diversity of lime-loving tree species, dominated by the cohune palm along with many species of orchids, palms and other plants with traditional uses. Wildlife in the area includes many species of residential and migratory bids, terrestrial mammals, amphibians, reptile and fish.

The park was established in 1994 by residents of two surrounding communities, Santa Cruz and Santa Elena. The villages recognized the waterfall as a potential ecotourism development and a form of supplemental income to subsistence farming. The Rio Blanco Mayan Association (RBMA) see the preservation of the ecosystem as a top priority and believe the park is a culturally appropriate and sustainable economic venture.

Getting to and Around Rio Blanco National Park

There are buses to the village of Jalacte that run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, leaving Punta Gorda at 11:00am, 11:30am and 12:00 pm. Returning from the park, buses pass on the same mornings before 5 am.

A local tour guide in Punta Gorda can be hired who will take you to the Rio Blanco National Park.

Camping and furnished dorms for overnight stay at the Rio Blanco National Park are available. There is a TEA Guesthouse in Santa Elena Village.

Activities at Rio Blanco National Park

Caving: A local tour guide with knowledge of medicinal plants and traditional uses of vegetation can be hired to take you to “Rock Patch Cave”. It is about an hour hike through the rainforest to the cave which can be explored for over four hours.

Hiking: There is a nature trail in the park. Visitors can also hike to the cave where the Rio Blanco River enters the mountain.

Swimming: There is an impressive 20 foot high, 100 foot wide waterfall on the Rio Blanco River. Visitors can jump off a 25 foot high rock into the deep pool below. During the dry season the waterfalls is considerably smaller, but it still makes an ideal place to cool off.

Bird watching: The park is home to many different residential and migratory species of birds.

Maya Site: Approximately 2 miles from the national park is Uxbenka, the Mayan site.

Community Based Tourism:  Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary | Bladen Forest Reserve | Rio Blanco National Park

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