Arenales Canyon Adventure
Puerto Rico has a number of activities that will quench your thirst for adventure. El Yunque National Park is the top destination for the adventurous visitors and it was my first choice as well. It has a natural rock water slide, natural poos and waterfalls, all the elements for a good time. I had seen pictures of the large number of visitors to these locations and the tour groups that number to about 30 participants. It’s really hard to enjoy any location with so many people around and with the Omicron variant raging through out the world, I had second thoughts.
By the time I arrived in Puerto Rico, I had changed my mind and El Yunque was off my list and I turned my attention to a canyoneering tour in Arenales. This was a small group tour that had a total of ten participants. After everyone was scooped up from their hotels, we drove from San Juan to Arenales and it took about an hour to reach the canyon. We were provided a life vest as this excursion would take place in the river and we would have to swim most of the way. We parked along a small narrow road, typical of the Puerto Rican countryside, and walked down hill to the river. We reached the bank of the river and we were surrounded by the canopy of the rainforest that covered the canyon. From previous experience, I new the water would be cold since it’s hidden from the sun. It was now time to enter the water and it actually didn’t feel that cold, for a few minutes, my adrenaline had helped warm my body.
I continued up the river into one of the many caves and this was were felt the bite of the cold water. We proceeded through the short distance of the cave and then we got to exit the water. We walked along the river but had to traverse large boulders along the way. It felt good to be out of the water, even though it was just for a short time. We had to enter the water again and along the bank of the river, the guide pointed out a large boulder. She mentioned it was a great spot to dive/jump from. It wasn’t very high, maybe ten feet, but I couldn’t say no. Half of us jumped off the boulder for an extra shot of adrenaline.
We exited the river again and hiked a short distance to another section of the river. This would be a little more treacherous. The trail into the river was steep, muddy and rocky. Our trail was once again the river most of the way. Some portions required us to walk along a ledge over the water. The water really got to me here. This portion of the river would be covered by more, and longer, caves which made it that much more colder. At one point, I was shivering as I held my go pro while filming the whole event. The life vest had a second application, it kept my body warm and I was so glad I had it on. Not only did we have to traverse boulders and downed trees in the river but there was also a car that was wedged in one of the caves. The waters often rise above the banks of the river when a hurricane hits the island and if you park your car too close to the river, it will end up in it.
The best part of the excursion was when we climbed up, using a log to scale a cliff, to a waterfall. The fun didn’t stop there. We walked through the veil of water into a cave behind the waterfall. We made our way into this pitch dark cave only lit by our cell phones in water proof pouches. It wasn’t a large waterfall, but considering what we had to do to get here, it was one to remember.
The canyon expedition was coming to an end but the exit wouldn’t be that easy. We had to traverse a cliff to get to the trail that led to the road. Everyone moved slowly and made it back to the road in one piece. “Choco” made it safely as well. Choco is dog, an adorable chihuahua mix, that lives near by the parking area who followed along the whole way through the canyon. The dog often does this on this tour as the guide brings the dog treats. He’ll give people that sad look and people ferry him through certain portions of the river. The dog was the only being we saw in the canyon, there wasn’t another sole to be found, unlike El Yunque.
The tour wasn’t over. After lunch at a local restaurant, we drove to a natural spring. It was just a short 15 minute walk along a forest trail from the street to the spring. The water was crystal clear, so clear we could see fish swimming past us. It was a relaxing moment in the middle of the rainforest. This was a great way to end an amazing day of adventure. I don’t have many pictures to share due to he type of activity this was. Pictures won’t truly capture each moment so I provided a video to depict this special day. I’m so happy I changed my mind and chose this activity. It was the highlight of my Puerto Rico trip.