Central mountains day 1
We picked up a rental car and headed west to a Google map pin near Utuado in the central mountains. One of our hosts met us at a bridge, and led us up the steep road toward their mountain jungle cottage. About halfway up, we left our car and loaded our bags into their UTV for the even steeper and rougher part of the road. A few minutes later, we arrived at our lovely mountain house. The house had a patio with hammocks and an amazing view, three friendly cats, a trampoline, and hiking trails. At sunset, we hiked up along the ridge to some pines for a view. After dark, we heard coqui frogs and all sorts of other jungle sounds.
One of our hosts met us at a GPS waypoint, and led us up their road on his e-bike.
He told us by radio to look uphill to the left to see the house.
After about 10 minutes, we parked our car and moved to their UTV for the rougher part of the road.
We hiked about half a mile up and along a ridge to watch the sunset.
view of the house on the way back from the pines
along the pines trail
looking back to the pines
Central mountains day 2
In the morning, our hosts drove us back down to the main road to go swimming in their local swimming hole. We walked upstream and played in a beautiful tropical pool. Our hosts drew a map of their local hiking trails, and in the afternoon Kimberly scrambled up the steep jungle trail to the ridge with endless mountain views.
Trail map created by our host Stephen
morning view under the flamboyan tree with Lago Caonillas in the distance
Our hosts drove us down the hill to the creek, and we explored downstream.
looking toward the road from the swimming hole
We found a beautiful pool just upstream of the bridge.
We walked upstream until we found another stream.
swimming back through the deep pool
Evan slid down the waterfall under the bridge.
After swimming and exploring the creek for an hour, we got in the UTV to go back to our house.
view from the back of the UTV
Three friendly cats lived at the house. The calico caught at least 3 lizards while we were there.
The Jungle Trail (marked by pink flags) led steep uphill.
The trail was sometimes hard to see, but our hosts said we couldn't get lost.
The trail was surrounded by ferns, palms, and wild houseplants.
The ridgetop was lined in pines and had a nice breeze.
view looking east from the ridge
a side trail led into a grove of banana trees
Our hosts said to help ourselves to tomatoes and peppers from the garden.
We lounged in chairs with an amazing view.
looking back at the house
the shower had a somewhat scary tankless water heater setup
Central mountains day 3
Our hosts offer an assortment of excursions; we decided to go to a waterfall and to a river spot with petroglyphs, swimming, and rock jumping. First we went to the Las Delicias waterfall, where we climbed up and behind the water. Next we drove to Las Piedras Escritas, where we had lunch, swam in the pool, explored the stream, and slid off the rock. We stopped at a local bakery on the way back. In the late afternoon, Kimberly hiked up the mountain trail behind the house for more incredible mountain views.
view of sleeping cat and mountains
start of the trails behind the house
Our guide Marita led us upstream to Las Delicias
Cascadia Las Delicias
The waterfall was surrounded by lush tropical plants.
We climbed up the side to a ledge above halfway up.
We slid down La Piedra Escrita and swam in the deep pool below.
The Taino people carved petroglyphs in the boulder.
We saw lots of fish as we explored the stream.
glimpse of the river from the boardwalk
We stopped at a bakery on the way back to the house.
uphill on the steep part of the Mountain Trail
view from the ridge on the mountain trail
empty giant snail shell
view through tree ferns toward Utuado
back to the patio for sunset
We saw a big katydid on the outside door frame.
Central mountains day 4
Our hosts drove us back to our car, and then we headed toward Arecibo to meet our cave tubing guides. We hiked about an hour downhill through the jungle, accompanied by two local dogs. The trail stopped at a cliff; we put on our life jackets and helmets, then zip-lined down and across the river looking back at a giant cave. The guides sent all of the tubes down the zip line too. We followed the guides along and through the river for about 10 minutes to a cave opening dripping with ferns and springs. We played in the water for a bit while the guides carried the tubes further upstream to a rocky beach. We walked into a giant cave with flowing limestone formations, then jumped off the edge into the river. After swimming out of the cave, we got into the tubes and floated and bumped along the river and through several caves. We scrambled up the steep bank, where Evan jumped back into the river. We made a quick visit to see the ruins of the Arecibo Observatory before heading back to San Juan.
under the flamboyan tree
the mountain roads were windy and not very wide
Sometimes when the road had eroded away, it became one way for a bit
Back on the bigger highway toward Arecibo
We followed our guides down a jungle trail toward the river.
Some sections of the trail had ropes to make it easier to get down.
We put on our helmets and life jackets, and ziplined the last section to the river.
We turned around after jumping off the edge to see a big cave.
at the bottom of the zipline
We carried our tubes along and through the river for about 10 minutes.
We pushed the tubes through the water as the canyon narrowed.
Just ahead, we could see the river coming out of a cave.
We swam in the pool and explored a bit into the cave.
Water cascaded everywhere from the roof of the cave.
Our guides gave us a hydrophobic leaf we used as a cup to drink from a spring coming out of the cave.
We hiked upstream another few minutes to the largest cave on the river.
looking downstream toward the cave entrance
A guide helped us to the edge while another waited below in a tube directing us where to jump.
looking up into the cave and the jump spot
We walked and swam out of the cave to a beach where the guides had piled up the tubes.
We got into the tubes and floated downstream.
We floated along steep canyon walls covered in ferns and vines.
We pushed off rocks to make it through a few rapids.
We floated into another big cave where bats flew overhead.
We got out of the tubes and scrambled up the canyon.
Evan jumped from the rock near the top.
leaving the river behind
We carried our tubes back uphill for a few minutes.
We hiked about an hour back to where we'd left our car.
Evan spotted a snake and the guide chased it across the road.
We could see the Arecibo as soon as we drove in.
Overlooking the ruins of the Arecibo reflector dish.
In 2020, the cables snapped and the 3-story platform collapsed into the dish.