Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jungle Exploring

El Yunque Observation Tower

Puerto Rico is covered by lush tropical rain forests. The island hosts one of the only places to see the bioluminesent bays, where single cell aquatic creatures glow as the water moves. Secret waterfalls are only short hikes from main roads, where travellers and locals alike can enjoy cliff diving and and rope swinging. Below Puerto Rico lies an extensive subterranean cave system that awaits explorers.

El Yunque National Park is the only tropical rainforest within the US Forest Service. With over 240 different species of trees it has more tree species than all the US National Parks combined. El Yunque is a 45 minute drive from San Juan through slow moving highways and winding jungle roads.

La Mina Falls
We started at El Portal Visitors Center. Its a $4 admission which includes a park map, a short educational movie and many exhibits. We headed down the road to Las Cabezas (the heads) observation tower. Its a great 360 view of the surrounding jungle and you can see as far as the beach around Fajardo.

After the observation tower we headed to Coca Falls which is right off the road. After some pictures we continued on to La Mina Falls. La Mina is a 30 minute hike downhill from Palo Colorado Visitors Center, which means an uphill walk when you head back to your car. Many people bath in the falls, so bring your bathing suit. Although the water is cold, if you get in quickly its not so bad.

Preparing for BioBay Tour

After El Yunque Stephanie and I headed to Fajardo to check in at Moonlight Bay Hostel. This hostel is one of the best hostels I have ever stayed. It just opened so everything is very clean and new. The staff is super nice and they love to hang out and cook burgers and hotdogs on the rooftop deck, looking over the sea.

After settling in Stephanie and I headed to the meeting location for our kayaking biobay tour. With student ID the tour costed $35 with Pure Adventure. We loaded onto kayaks and headed out into the rough bay in Fajardo making sure not to loose the rest of the group .We headed into the mangroves playing bumper-kayaks with other tour groups. We paddled through twists and turns dodging trees and other kayaks. We arrived in a small bay surrounded on almost all sides. We huddled in the middle to listen to the instructor.

Camuy Caves
Although the glowing dinoflagellites were not really bright you could still see them glow when you moved your hand through the water. While paddling you could see the water around the oars light up ever so slightly. After an exciting day Stephanie and I headed back to Moonlight Hostel for some food and music on the rooftop deck.

Camuy Cave Park, in the center of Puerto Rico offers visitors a view of one of the largest caves,Cueva Clara. For $15 visitors are shown a short movie about the caves, a beautiful tram ride through the jungle and an hour long tour of Clara Cave.

The cave is immense reaching to about 215ft high and almost 700ft wide. Along the ceilings visitors
can see bats flying back and fourth, but don't worry most are asleep during the day. Bring good walking shoes and be careful the walkways can be very slippery.

Near Camuy are the secret waterfalls the locals call Gozalandia. After traversing some windy roads through rural villages you will find a gate. You can park for free on the road near the gate and walk up and down some steep roads until you find a large parking lot, and the trail head for the waterfalls. If you decided not to walk you can drive all the way into the parking lot, which is on someones private property. The owner charges $5 per car. From the parking lot its a 15min walk down steep muddy stairs down to the first waterfall. Here you can cliff jump from various heights. There are often a large number of people here. 

If you hike another 10 minutes up the trail you will find another smaller less packed waterfall with a rope swing. This place is great for a picnic, just remember you might need both hands to climb some of the slippery slopes. 

Puerto Rico has so much to offer if you love the outdoors. From spelunking to cliff diving you can spend years exploring. 

1 comment:

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