El Yunque

Rio Grande Travel Blog

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Today's destination --- looking towards El Yunque from our porch at Rio Mar.

Omitting Thursday since we basically lounged at the beach at Rio Mar, but Friday was our tour of El Yunque, the grand rain forest which provides Puerto Rico with much of its water.  Knowing very little, we chose to go on a tour provided by the resort.  Our hopes were satisfied by Manuel, a wonderful tour guide who was quite knowledgeable about El Yunque’s flora & fauna.

 

Like most of the other locals we interacted with, Manuel had lived in NYC for many years before returning back.  He asked where we hailed from and naturally when we told him Texas, he mentioned his son was working in Killeen (does that explain why everybody on our little prop went to San Juan?).

Along the trail in El Yunque

 

Our first stop was at the Visitor’s Center.  A very nice design with a lot of great exhibits explaining the diversity of plants and animals as well as all of the resources El Yunque provides.  No charge, of course.  The facility also has a gift shop with snacks available and rest rooms.  I asked Manuel a question in the parking lot and he proceeded to give us an impromptu tour that was quite informative.  The best part was when he pointed to a spot on the ground and indicated that there was frequently a boa constrictor there and continued, letting us know there are only four species of snakes on Puerto Rico, none poisonous and one blind!

 

We continued higher into the rain forest (there are four distinct zones) and reached the trailhead for our two-mile hike.

Visitor's Center at El Yunque
  The hike was downhill and went past a water fall where we were told we could swim.  A fairly easy jaunt, the trail was a cement path practically the entire way.  The only detraction was there were a lot of other people and few were hikers.  Regardless, the scenery was wonderfully lush and since we followed a stream most of the time, there were many delightful little falls.  I was the only one to take a dip at the swimming hole --- WAY too many people crushed in there --- but it was a refreshing cool down.

 

Manuel was awaiting everyone at the end of the trail and several construction workers were rebuilding a part of the parking lot there.  They had gathered a few mangoes that had fallen and washed one off for Spencer to munch on.

 

Next stop was a tower that afforded splendid views on a clear day, which today wasn’t (Puerto Rico was receiving the dust from a Saharan sand storm!), but what we could see was still impressive.

Ginger at El Yunque
  Last stop was at La Murella, a roadside diner/souvenir shop that was awesome.  Beyond all of his facts about the forest, we appreciated Manuel exposing us to some interaction with the locals (particularly since the atmosphere at the resort was terribly stale).  The food was excellent and we sat with real ‘non-tourists’, lol, but what I loved most was that they kept their dog up on the roof!

 

El Yunque is a jewel and I have not told you very much, but a visit is highly recommended if you should be in the area.
mga_galang_paa says:
A guide is truly an indispensable help to any tour...
Posted on: May 31, 2008
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Along the trail in El Yunque
Along the trail in El Yunque
Visitors Center at El Yunque
Visitor's Center at El Yunque
Ginger at El Yunque
Ginger at El Yunque
View (inland) from tower at El Yun…
View (inland) from tower at El Yu…
Kim & Spencer hiking at El Yunque
Kim & Spencer hiking at El Yunque
Top dog at La Murella!
Top dog at La Murella!
Crowded swimming hole along trail …
Crowded swimming hole along trail…
Rio Grande
photo by: vances