Experience the richness of El Yunque
El Yunque Self tour and Guided tour information
Highway 191 in Puerto Rico connected the city of Rio Grande to Rio Blanco near Naguabo until a landslide closed the road during the 1970’s. The US Government purchased private residence along the ends of the closed road and expanded the national park at that time causing highway 191 to dead end at the El Yunque national park from either side. The trails and sights in the national park on the Rio Grande side of highway 191 are well defined and need no guide. The highest peak, El Toro, is a popular tourist destination. More information about that 3 hour, not too difficult hike can be found here on the governments website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/elyunque/recreation/natureviewing/recarea/?recid=43417&actid=64
The south face of El Yunque may require a guide to find many of the special sweet spots in this one of a kind tropical rainforest zone, the only tropical rainforest in the United States with the most exotic array of mosses and ferns. At higher elevation, the pavement blooms green and you can hang a hammock between 2 fern trees. Every 50 feet of elevation introduces new vegetation on the mist covered mountain peaks that remain cool while the sun is blistering at sea level. In ancient times El Yunque was the largest volcano on earth with Hawaii 2nd, today the volcano is extinct and the mountain it forged has the most unique stones, especially on the south side.
On the east side, in Rio Tinajas all the stone is blue. The low elevation, 1 hour river hike to popular swimming holes with a 33 foot jump and rope swings is called “Charco Frio” and is located here: https://goo.gl/maps/E7tcEP58M6aqowrG9
Guided tours of the south side begin at the top of the mountain, 300 meters before the end of the road at the highest private property with a river in the rainforest and the last residence on 191 before entering national park on the Naguabo side. At this location, on Highway 191, to the left of the road on your way up is a public mineral spring water pipe which eternally pours pristine water from the ground. Many people come here to fill up bottles of the finest drinking water 300 meters before the El Yunque National Park entrance. Rocks in the immediate area contain both gold and silver therefore it is presumable that the water is high in collodial silver possibly contributing to a local who lived to be 115 years old. (Click here to see a rock with a vein of gold and a vein of silver amid the granite found at the spring)
Find the natutal spring at the following location:
From that location you are in the area for all the activities listed below, where a guide can likely be helpful. Meet your guide 25 feet uphill from the spring where we start the adventure or continue on yourself to the end of the road 300 meters ahead and enjoy the wild south side of El Yunque National park described below:
Discover Our Tours
Rio Sabana has an area with gazebos near to the river. You will find this area after walking about 1/2 mile beyond the end of highway 191 on the Naguabo side. The gazebos are located near the river and provide a good location to have lunch by the river with a very easy walk that you do not need a guide for.
An hour from the gazebos which are located next to the river, is a breaking point in the river with a still zen pond on one side and the beginning of a waterfall on the other side with swimming holes in between. This hike in altitude provides a diverse view of the tropical rainforest plant life. The trails go on for 10 miles, however the sweet spots are the highlights of the rainforest and this one of them. Its an easy walk that is often muddy. From the Zen Pond, pictured below as you turn the other direction you see the water go down a steep rock face pictured behind the words “Discover Our Tours”. From the gazebos, the old road is still walkable it provides a simple scenic hike.
The trail behind the bathrooms was reopened in 2021 after 10 years of jungle like rainforest overgrowth had held that trail impassable for 10 years, National Park employees and volunteers from TheMissionContinues.org, and other volunteers have made the walking trail passable which connects clear to the other side of El Yunque now.
Cubuy swimming holes and waterfalls
A very short easy walk to great swimming under a series of spectacular waterfalls. This is our featured adventure. The picture at the very top of this webpage shows less than 1/3rd of the entire waterfall with the Jacuzzi to the lower left. The very bottom pool is the preferred destination for some people. From the bottom, you can see to the very top. From the top you can see all the way to your friends below. The advanced climb takes you to a natural swimming hole beneath waterfalls with an attraction called The Jacuzzi, a hole in the rock in the waterfall that can seat three. For the even more daring, the very steep climb continues, we use toes and fingers and need pull-up strength to continue to the top, a beautiful place with a good swimming hole, with unusual rocks, in an unusual river surrounded with unusual plant life. From the top you can see those who stayed behind at the very bottom pool(10 minutes below the Jacuzzi). Pictured below is the jacuzzi, the final destination for many because the advanced climb beyond the jacuzzi is dangerous. It is dangerous when it it wet, and otherwise safe, albeit advanced. This is a rainforest where it rains frequently. A late afternoon rain could cause an overnight experience waiting for a safe chance to freeclimb down. Currently there are no climbing bolts mounted anywhere, they would enable a return in light rain, if you had ropes. Pending permission from park and local authorities, climbing anchor bolts will be mounted. There is no cell service up there, you cannot call for help.
The river provides a natural path that goes on for 45 minutes until it splits the split to the left which becomes more overgrown with less water flow to remove plants and trees creating the path through the vegatation over growth. That left split of the river continues with the help of minor tributaries feeding it down the west side of El Yunque into Rio Canovanos. The larger, therefore easier to follow, split to the right continues on in elevation also.
We only accept tips, not liability for this natural made attraction. We only go weather permitting, even to the Jacuzzi, only weather permitting. The very bottom pool is safe to see in ALL weather, even rain which cancels other things to see and do in the beautiful and amazing rainforests of El Yunque. In the video below you can see the lowest(1st pool), and the 2nd pool immediately below “The Jacuzzi” which has me sitting in it, first shown submersed in it. Above us are still more pools and more of the waterfall. Once at the top, you can STILL see your friends in the very bottom pool, although the recessed Jacuzzi area is out of sight from both the top and the bottom pools.
(Click the link or picture below to see a 26 second video of the climb to the place pictured)
Swimming Tour and River tour
A combination of multiple sweet spots and multiple rivers with an emphasis on time spent swimming and not hiking. This tour includes multiple rivers and will be tailored to your group and schedule. A swimming tour would not be complete without a guided tour of El Hippie which has the best spots to jump from rocks and a cave in the rocks with a water fall inside it that will spit you out in a current if you pass through. We can show you safe places to jump from and lead you to the cave, however you could see El Hippie without a guide. Ask around for where the cave is and where the Taino Indian petroglyphs are, you may find them without a guide. The cave is safe when the river level is normal, 3 vertical water level marks should be exposed at charco el hippie to pass through the cave. When the level of water rises after a rain so that only 1 mark is exposed, you cannot even swim across the swimming hole safely and must wait on the other side for the waters to return to normal level. People have died trying, likewise the cave has claimed a life when the waters were too strong immediately after rain. El Hippie and the cave are safe with normal water level.
El hippie is at the bottom of the mountain, here: https://goo.gl/maps/k8HTFUAzKLa4ij3u8
Access to private property on the mineral rich peak of La Mina named after The Mine dug by the Spanish looking for gold. The only road to the mine is closed and crosses private property. We currently do not provide a tour all the way to the top. It takes 6 hours one way only to see the entrance of the mine which requires ropes to enter. A partial climb leads to impressive plants and special places on private property on the mountain. A short hike to a man made dam along the way planted with pineapples and multiple varieties of bananas.
The Infinity Pool
This is a long normally muddy 2+ hour hike to a waterfall which can be seen from great distances. This difficult hike requires using ropes and going up a ladder. The trail was built by the electric company, not the National Park (National Park is depicted in green on the map below relative to the infinity hiking trail in red) This trail is officially closed because it can be dangerous as historically it has been with frequent calls for rescue teams, 5 in the past year. It generally only becomes dangerous during rain or in the dark. It is possible to miss the trail in places if you have never been there before so a guide is recommended for this trail that is not recommended. Its not our preferred trek however it remains popular and remains an option unless it rained heavy recently. It is possible to become stuck in certain places if it rains and the river rises after crossing it. Bring flashlights in case in you get stranded waiting for the flash flood waters to subside and you are forced to walk the muddy trails along steep cliffs in the dark to get home. Do not go if it is likely to rain heavy. Along the way see wild yams, velvet bean which has testosterone and l-dopa, bananas, orchids, passion flower, and take time to play in and under the waterfall because at the top there is no shade and only a very small pool before the ledge of the waterfall.
To schedule an experience with us, contact us with the form below or text a message to 404.448.1244 to schedule to meet us here at the public mineral spring waterhead just before the El Yunque National Park entrance on the Naguabo side of Highway 191 : https://email@example.com,-65.7987215,19z
A one way taxi ride from San Juan to this location will be about $120. I can sometimes arrange transportation and host more local sights.
Omar has been providing hiking and kayaking tours in Puerto Rico for 15 years and knows all the roads and rivers around El Yunque. He once managed the national park facility in Naguabo.
Brian is an experienced free climber and has a fascination with plants especially plants that produce a medicine which is most of them with antioxidants at a minimum. He has his own websites about shamanic plant medicines and technology.