Cuero y Salado is an iconic figure for tourism in La Ceiba. It is one of the oldest protected areas in the country (declared a protected area in 1986) and one of the first co management agreements signed by the ICF with a local NGO: Fundacion Cuero y Salado – Fucsa (http://fucsa.blogspot.com). Cuero y Salado is located about 33 km. east of the City of La Ceiba, and is geographically limited on the east by the Zacate River and to the west by the San Juan River. To the North it borders with the Caribbean Sea. The area is part of an old Standard Fruit Company coconut plantation and there are actually several small communities that live within the protected area.
Its biggest claim to fame is the fact that it is home to the Caribbean Manatee, an endangered species that lives within the network of creeks, lagoons and coast line. There are a total of 15 rivers and watersheds that feed into the network of lagoons and canals, providing a myriad of waterways all of them heavily forested with mangroves and tropical jungle vegetation providing an ideal habitat not only for the manatee, but also for alligators, howler and white faced monkeys, and a large variety of birds, both migratory and stationary species. A total of 200 bird species have been identified within the wildlife refuge, making it a very high biodiversity in its relatively small 13,255 hectares. On land, large mammals that make Cuero y Salado their home include Jaguars and white tail deer.
The Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge is easily accessible to tourists, and actually offers a unique experience to visitors. Access is via the community of La Union. To get there, take the highway from La Ceiba toTela. At approximately km 167 you will come to a junction on the road, just before a large bridge over the Perla River. Take a right here and follow the road into town as far as the first set of railroad tracks that cross the road. This is the where you must park your car and buy a ticket for a unique train trip into the refuge. (If you are coming from Tela, the detour will be to your left just after the Perla River bridge).