Cruising: Day 7 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Today marked our 3rd visit to Puerto Vallarta. I have yet to see it, though. Our first visit involved an off road adventure that took us deep into the rainforest and then to a secluded beach. Our second visit found us on a small airplane that swept us up into the hills to a small village for an up close cultural experience. Today we took another adventure far from the hotels and shops most often visited by tourists to the area.

Our tour started out on a small inflatable pontoon boat that picked us up right at the ship. 32 of us hopped in for the 20 minute trip across the bay to a small village. We then separated into two groups and hopped into 4×4 Mercedes trucks for a 20 minute drive up bumpy dirt roads to the “Outdoor Adventure”. This is where we’d spend the next several hours tromping through the rainforest.

When we arrived at the “Outdoor Adventure” area we were all fitted with harnesses and helmets. We were about to embark on a zipline, rapelling, burro riding, getting soaked, lots of exercise type of tour. Once we had everything on we walked up a short hill to a stable full of burros. Each one of us was assigned a burro based on our size. After hopping on my burro named Felipe, we started up a dirt trail that took us up to an elevation of about 2,200 feet over a 3 to 4 mile distance. The ride was fun, but the burros probably had a little too much water to drink before heading up the hill. It seemed as though we had to stop every quarter mile or so to let them irrigate the trail. The burro in front would find a dry spot and let loose, which then started a chain reaction down the line. Let me tell you, I was happy to be on the third burro and not the last. I was told the last few burros were up to their knees in some of the puddles. I think someone was telling stories, but I wasn’t back there to confirm or deny it.

After reaching the top of the trail we hopped off the burros and walked another quarter mile to our first zipline. There were quite a few knees knocking, but everyone took their turns going down the line with no delays. We flew down a couple more lines before reaching a large waterfall. From there we had to rapel down the face of the waterfall into a pool of water below. Normally I’m not a big fan of hopping into streams or other cold water bodies, but it actually felt great. It was only about 80 degrees, but the humidity made it pretty warm.

The rapelling went smoothly and then it was off to a short zipline that followed the creek down to another pool of water. The only way off was to come to a splashing halt at the end of the line. There was no escaping getting dunked.

A few more ziplines with another rapel down a waterfall brought our trip through the rainforest to an end. I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable tours we’d done on any cruise. The guides were excellent and made even the most skittish participants feel safe. They have a great operation, which is probably why we’ve used them each time we’ve been to the area and not gone down to the touristy areas. I could have done another loop around the trail, but we had to catch the boat ride back to the ship. Unfortunately it was a little late getting us back to the ship and we were the last passengers to climb aboard before shoving off to Cabo San Lucas.

My only disappointment for the day is that they really stressed that cameras should not be brought onto the tour. In fact, they wouldn’t even allow them on the trail if you did bring one. I understand why, but I take my camera everywhere so I was a little annoyed. I was good, though, and left it in the cabin on the ship. It still bothers me now that I wasn’t able to take any photos, especially after I saw the photos that were taken by a photographer they have on the trail. We bought a CD that had all of our photos on it, but the quality is really bad. It’s the one and only criticism I have of the whole setup. I never like to be critical, but they aren’t very good at all. I’ve included one below, but I took the liberty of playing with it some since the photo itself was out of focus and exposed poorly. Okay, enough complaining.

We’re off to Cabo San Lucas!

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November 2008
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