[Editor’s Note: Considering that the island of Puerto Rico as well other countries and territories are currently on lockdown as a precautionary measure in view of the COVID-19 pandemia, we find worthy to republish some ecotreasures ® articles in this issue. We exhort you to appreciate the privilege of engaging in outdoors experiences, admiring nature and bonding with others and Mother Earth as you read for the first time or again the story below. Nature is awaiting you so visualize your next extreme adventure for future planning.]
Article originally published in June 2016 ecotreasures issue:
Birds chirping, river flowing, human breathing and your own heartbeat were the first sounds we listened to as we commenced our immersion into a private forest in the heart of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where we would be led to a great adventure at the Tanamá River.
Though we were ready to immediately engage in multiple extreme adventures, Explora’s tour guides, Gustavo Vega and Amanda Ramos, surprised us with their first request: to close our eyes for a minute and just listen. At that moment, I knew this would be a magic adventure. The sounds of the birds that you would otherwise barely notice suddenly became a highlight as these were loud and clear. It even seemed that hundreds of birds were singing at the same time.
From that point in time, Explora’s tour guides outstandingly and safely guided us through our journey.
While we were hiking towards the Tanamá River, we encountered a part of the forest trail fully covered by enormous leaves. As we looked up, we discovered that these leaves were part of the Grandleaf Seagrape tree (“Moralón” in Spanish) (Coccoloba pubescens), as identified by Gustavo. The tour guide pointed out that the wood from this tree was used in the past as railroad ties on railroad tracks, and as support beams in construction projects.
As we continued our exploration, the tour guides asked us to lie down on the ground and just stare at the trees. Among Royal Palm trees and other variety of trees, Amanda explained that the vivid colors, forms or smell of some plants call the attention of particular animals that help spread their seeds. For example, she pointed out that the smell of a particular flower would only attract a particular bat.
As we continued our hiking, we landed at the top of “Puente de Tierra”, the top of a cavern that serves as a bridge. There, we were asked again to close our eyes, but this time to concentrate on the sounds of the river flowing in order to determine from which side of the river the sounds were coming from. To our surprise, the relaxing sounds derived from water flowing at both sides of the impressive Tanamá River.
The trail led us to a point where we had to crawl on some rocks towards a small cave overlooking the river. We were able to spot a cricket and the Tailless Whip-scorpion (“Guabá” in Spanish), as identified by Gustavo. This insect is also referred to as a whip spider or cave spider due to its spiderlike appearance.
Afterwards, the adventure got more interesting as we used a rope to descend towards the riverbank of the Tanamá River. We were mesmerized by the beauty of this river, and excited to begin our river journey.
Gustavo mentioned that “Tanamá” is a word from the Taino indigenous people vocabulary that means butterfly. Even to this date, butterflies are happily flying around the riverbanks.
On one side of the Tanamá River, we admired the water flowing under the cavern right below “Puente de Tierra”, a “carpet” of pebbles, and many small waterfalls. During our river journey, we hiked against the flow of the current for a while; so be ready for lots of physical exercise during this phase.
Then the level of excitement and intrigue increased right before starting our Body Rafting adventure in the Tanamá River. Explora’s tour guides instructed us to position our heads looking upward and to use our feet as a protective measure against the rocks, laying down one leg straight and bending lightly the other leg to both serve as “shock absorbers”.
Body Rafting in the Tanamá River was out of this world. As we looked upwards, the view was magnificent.
We were able to see limestone walls with marks made by the water millions of years ago. While hiking in the river, we also had the chance to look closely at striking stone formations and stalagmites, stalactites and columns.
A highlight of our journey occurred when all the adventurers body-rafted down the river, in a railroad train-like position. This connection made us feel the energy of the water as well as the other adventurers’. Besides Body Rafting per se, this was definitely a climax of our adventure.
During our further hiking, we were lucky to admire a coqui, a beautiful boa and a touch sensitive plant known as the Shy plant (“Moriviví” in Spanish) (“Mimosa pudica”).
The “grand finale” of our journey was a farewell by a Red-Tailed Hawk (“Guaraguao Colirrojo” in Spanish) (“Buteo jamaicensis”), identified by Gustavo, that flew over us, displaying its beautiful plumage, particularly its reddish feathers tail. This hawk’s size and beauty captivated all of us.
The best part of our multiple adventures experience was the tranquility, the deep connection with nature, and the fact that this fascinating place was just ours to enjoy since we did not encounter anyone else other than the tour’s adventurers. This is how we picture paradise.
For this type of adventure, Explora guides groups of not more than 12 participants in order to ensure their safety and provide a personalized attention. Explora provides snacks and juices at the end of the adventure.
Explora specializes in a variety of tours comprising Body Rafting, rock climbing, rappelling, river journey, caving, and hiking. This tour provider also offers outdoor rescue training. You may contact Explora by phone or email. T: 787- 900-7755. E: firstname.lastname@example.org