Getting on/off a motorcoach. Total driving throughout the day about 40 miles, approximately 1.25 hours. Hiking approximately 2 miles round-trip; hilly terrain, many steps up and down, humid conditions. Wear broken-in walking shoes/hiking boots with good ankle support. Be prepared for rain. Anyone who has had recent knee/hip surgery should carefully consider the physical demands involved.
At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes choices such as eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes or waffles with syrup, cornflakes or other cereal, bread or toast with jam/jelly/butter, orange and grapefruit juice, coffee, tea, water.
After checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and begin our transfer to Fajardo with a field trip en route to Bosque Nacional El Yunque (El Yunque National Forest), about 30 miles away. We’ll be joined by an expert local naturalist and explore the El Portal Visitors Center. Our naturalist will provide an introduction to the rainforest and we’ll watch a short video. After our introduction to the park, we’ll go hiking on one of the beautiful trails. El Yunque — also known as the Caribbean National Forest — is the only the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. national forest system. It was originally set aside as a reserve by the King of Spain in 1876 and became part of the U.S. forest system in 1903. Today it covers 28,000 acres with more than 240 species of trees and plants including 88 rare tree species, 50 native orchid species, and 150 types of ferns as well as abundant wildlife. More than 240 inches of rain fall here each year. That’s more than 100 billion gallons! One of the rarest species of wildlife here is the highly endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. There are very few of them left and their primary habitat is in the mountains, but be on the lookout for a bright green parrot about a foot long with red above its beak and blue wing feathers. You might get lucky!
At one of the shelters in the park, we’ll have sandwiches and beverage choices of lemonade and water.
We'll hop back on our motorcoach for the ride from El Yunque to Fajardo, about 12 miles (19 km), and check in to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free for personal independent exploration. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Fajardo, founded in 1760, is on the eastern edge of Puerto Rico and popular for water sports. You might like to visit one of its beautiful beaches or walk through the town square. The most notable building is the colorful Catedral Santiago Apostól (Cathedral of St. James the Apostle). The square is a gathering place for local people — and pigeons!
At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with soft drinks, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.