For tourists, spending some time in a forest can be a strange yet exciting experience. Sure, it can be a great place to escape civilization and think about your own connection with nature. But the inconvenience of modern facilities and amenities can be frustrating. And yet there are places like the Guajataca Forest Reserve, which can make you forget about the inconvenience.
Guajataca Forest Reserve Overview
It’s located in the Karst Region in Isabela in Puerto Rico, and it’s unlike any forest you may have seen around here. The topography is due to the volcanic eruptions which happened millions of years ago. As a result, you have lots of limestone deposits, along with eerie caves and canyons, continuous hills, sinkholes, and underground caverns and rivers. The waterfalls are cool too.
There are tracks and paths everywhere, and they total about 40 kilometers (25 miles) of trails. First timers are encouraged to first try out trail #1 that leads to the Cueva del Viento or the Interpretative Trail that’s about 3.2 km (or about 2 miles) long.
When you have enough hiking experience under your belt, you may want to try out some more trails. There are lots of animals in the wild. The snakes will generally ignore you, and the bats are harmless. If you ever find some fish in the underground rivers, you may notice that they don’t have eyes at all. And of course, the plants have no pigmentation.
Preparing your Adventure
First, you’ll need to do some preparations. The DNRA manages the reserve, and you can call them at 787-999-2200 for additional info. There’s no fee for the facilities and the trails, and the forest is open during daylight hours. It will take you an hour to reach the forest from Rincon, and two hours from San Juan.
Make sure that your footwear is suitable for hiking. That’s a given, because if you’re going to the cave you’ll need to walk at least two hours in total. And that’s if you’re in good condition. And sometimes it rains in the afternoon, so make sure you have rain gear as well.
Then you will need lights, because many of the caves you find here don’t have any illumination. These lights will have to be very strong, especially if you’re going to venture deeper than a few feet into the cave.
Of course, a compass is also a must, and some sort of GPS system can come in handy. And finally, don’t even think about forgetting your food and drink. Insect repellant can also be very convenient.
If the Guajataca Forest Reserve manages to entice you to stay a few days, make sure you have enough supplies with you. A lot of people like to stay for awhile here, and there are camping grounds in the area which you can use as long as you get a permit. For hikers and nature lovers, the mystic caverns are an irresistible attraction, and the trails are easy enough to traverse.