El Yunque National Rainforest and Ziplining

Sunrise in Fajardo

Sunrise in Fajardo

Friday, Justin and Shera’s last full day with us, was filled with more fun and adventure. It all began around 9:30 am as we pulled into the Rainforest Zipline Park. For the next couple of hours, we were happily occupied zipping from tower to tower over the treetops of the lower rainforest. Cindy and I had done this a couple of times before, once in Alaska and once, I think, in Costa Rica. But, this was a first for our guests. Fortunately, we all had a blast. I strapped the GoPro to my helmet for the adventure, so I was able to produce a 7-minute video of our forest fun (found below).

The Over the Hill Gang ready to soar over the tree tops of El Yunque

The Over the Hill Gang ready to soar over the tree tops of El Yunque

After a quick lunch, we drove up into the El Yunque National Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. The highest peak in the forest rises to 3,494 feet above sea level. Over 200 inches of rainfall each year creates a lush, jungle-like setting. We first visited the El Portal Rain Forest Center where we watched a brief movie about El Yunque. From there we stopped by the barely-flowing, but still beautiful, La Coca Falls. We then visited, and all climbed, the Yocahu Tower, enabling us to look out over the beautiful surrounding countryside all the way to Luquillo and the ocean. Lastly, other than a shopping stop or two, we parked near the Big Tree Trail. Cindy and Shera stayed in the air-conditioned car while Justin and I hiked the 2 mile round-trip trail up and down the mountainside to view the much more active La Mina Falls. They have small pools at the base in which quite a few of the visitors splashed and enjoyed themselves. As we hiked, we failed to see the elusive Puerto Rican Parrot, but I did hear the call of the Coqui, a tiny tree frog about one inch long with a distinctive, high-pitched “ko-kee,” song-like call.

This fantastic tree was at the El Portal Rain Forest Center  just after entering El Yunque.  I think it is called a Rainbow Eucalyptus.

This fantastic tree was at the El Portal Rain Forest Center just after entering El Yunque. I think it is called a Rainbow Eucalyptus.

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La Coca Falls

La Coca Falls

Cindy holding what I believe is a flower from the African Tulip Tree.  These beautiful trees have brilliant patches of large red-orange flowers among their foliage, earning them the nickname, "Flame of the Forest."

Cindy holding what I believe is a flower from the African Tulip Tree. These beautiful trees have brilliant patches of large red-orange flowers among their foliage, earning them the nickname, “Flame of the Forest.”

Yocahu Tower

Yocahu Tower

Spectacular Views from the Tower

Spectacular Views from the Tower

El Yunque Tropical Rain Forest

El Yunque Tropical Rain Forest

The view from the Yocahu Tower

The view from the Yocahu Tower

Descending the tower

Descending the tower

Justin Hiking the Big Tree Trail

Justin Hiking the Big Tree Trail

La Mina Falls

La Mina Falls

Proof we actually made it all the way to La Mina Falls

Proof we actually made it all the way to La Mina Falls

Unfortunately, our short time with the Argabrights had come to an end. On Saturday morning, we drove our friends to the Airport in San Juan. They would return to Charleston, and we would return to Beatitude for two or three days before our return to the states.

Shera and Justin atop the tower

Shera and Justin atop the tower

Cindy and Barry atop the Tower

Cindy and Barry atop the Tower

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