Daytripper: Cool Trips. Close by.

Daytripper is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on day trips within easy reach of Xela. This issue focuses on: Loma Linda, a rainforest adventure.

By Luisa Ditmars

What has the brand-new ecotourism project at Loma Linda got that is so unique? Certainly there are better-known ecotourism projects on coffee fincas that offer pleasant hikes, talks, meals and accommodation. But consider that not one but four resplendent quetzal birds were seen by the first tour group that visited Loma Linda in the Fall of 2008. Frogs, the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ that are mysteriously disappearing worldwide are breeding happily here in a pesticide-free environment. Other exotic creatures like armadillos, freshwater crabs and toucans can be seen according to the season.

Cheery guides point out the highlights of the humid subtropical forest that range from the beautiful to the creepy. Purple orchids bigger than your hand bloom from large tree branches. The matapalo that grew from a single seed on the bark of an existing tree, has now completely enveloped and strangled the original. Ferns, orchids and ‘air plants’ have formed top-heavy aerial gardens on some trunks and branches, but palms shrug off sheets of their bark so they can breathe easier. Rare but locally abundant tree ferns three meters across unfurl their strange fronds, throwbacks from the dinosaur days.

You can look out from a viewpoint above the village and watch the volcano Santiaguito blow out clouds of volcanic dust into the air and then watch the cenizas fall like light snow hours later.

Tours that last from one hour to several days by request are an adventure in the cloud forest. The shorter route leads to a 25-meter-high waterfall. Longer tours into the 35-hectare protected area can be easily arranged.

Other attractions include the huge and successful vermicomposting center and a word about coffee production. The Centro Turistico, or tourist hotel, is nearing completion, with the opening scheduled for early September. Meanwhile, local families open their doors to feed, water and entertain tired visitors.

So who’s responsible for all this? The Asociación ASODILL with its big dreams and a miniscule budget have created the project virtually out of thin air, thanks to good planning and a group of 20 forward-looking campesinos. These energetic men and women have a long-term vision of active tourism, aided by the forthcoming Website and Internet connection.

To arrange for a tour, or for more information call Pascual, the Asociación ASODILL Coordinator, or Rosa, the President, at 5724-6035 in Spanish.

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