June 10, 2010

Kayaking Adventure: Pacific Coast

Almost a month ago Kelsi and I spent a long weekend kayaking on the Pacific Coast of Colombia. I described the trip here and told you a short little story about losing my camera here. However, now that I have collected all the photos that our guide took over the weekend, here are some thoughts post-adventure:

  • After waking at 4 am, we left Cali around 5 am, and headed for the coastal town of Buenaventura. Buenaventura is the only town on the whole Pacific Coast of Colombia that you can drive to, and it is only about three hours from Cali.
  • After arriving there, we embarked on a 45 minute boat ride to Juanchaco, our home base for the weekend.
View of the bay from Juanchaco docks.
  • In Juanchaco our accomodations were pretty nice, considering the coast is known for being one of the most "rustic" parts of Colombia. We stayed in a cabin with three other teachers from school that had three rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and front porch.
Our cabin for the weekend.
  • We ate all of our meals in a little restaurant right on the shore where we kept the kayaks. The restaurant did a great job of providing us with filling Colombian-style meals for the weekend. After a quick lunch and a short nap around mid-day, we were ready to kayak!
Waking up at 4 am is tough business - Lyndi, Kelsi and I couldn't really hack it.
  • After some instruction from our guide Julio, we launched around 2 pm, and headed out to the ocean. Kelsi and I were surprised to find how strong the ocean currents are! No one told us about that beforehand... :(
Julio telling us about our route for the first day.
Lauching the kayaks with some help from the locals. In total, Kelsi and I successfully launched on day 1, I flipped us on day 2, and Julio basically held the kayak steady for us on day 3. Winners.

Day 1 - successfully launching the kayak - what what!
  • The coolest part of this day was kayaking through a little tunnel formed under an island in the ocean. Our guide headed in without a word, and we just followed along, despite some hesitations. However, the ocean waves basically pushed us through the tunnel, and it was totally worth it! A great ride!
Getting our first taste of ocean kayaking.

Going through a tunnel similar to the one described above, only that one was a lot smaller and darker!
  • After some ocean time, we kayaked along a small tributary and through some mangroves. We were able to explore some freshwater pools along the way.
Kelsi & I paddling through the mangroves.

Sitting in the mangroves.
Attempting to exit the kayak ever so gracefully in search of a freshwater pool.

Walking through a shallow part of the river - headed for another pool.
Relaxing in a fresh water pool deep in the mangroves.

A short video - demonstrating just how difficult it is to walk on the slippery, slimy bottom of a river...even in good hiking shoes. :)
  • Despite a rainy morning, we hiked the short distance to the neighboring town of Ladrilleros. Ladrilleros is about 30-45 minutes from Juanchaco on a short path connecting the two towns along the cliffs above the shore. The walk allowed us to really take in the beauty of the rustic, undeveloped nature of the coastline and see the gorgeous beach in Ladrilleros.
Hiking along the ridge from Juanchaco to Ladrilleros.

Kelsi & I crossing a stream along the hike.
Hiking along...in matching raincoats.

Kelsi, Lori and I on the hike.
Loving my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean!
  • In Ladrilleros we ran into some fellow teachers, Angie, Caleb & Tara, who were there enjoying some weekend beach time.
Taking a break in Ladrilleros with friends!
  • Around 11 am the tide went down, so we were able to walk back to Juanchaco along the beach. There were definitely times when the water still came up to my waist when the waves came in, so it was quite the thrilling walk! The little inlets and caves made for some great photos along the way.
Walking along the beach, getting closer to Juanchaco.

Kelsi & walking along the shore going back to Juanchaco.
  • In the afternoon we headed out for what would be the toughest kayaking of the trip. Our plan was to go around the three islands directly in front of Juanchaco. If the currents had their way, we would have floated swiftly back to Buenaventura, but with some very intense paddling stints, we successfully ventured around all the islands! The currents are very mild next to the actual islands, but in between them the water pushes off from the front of the island and rushes around the sides. This means zero fun for everyone.
Kayaking around the second island - lots of little caves and inlets!

Paddling around the second island.
Basically...to summarize, these people joined our group for one day and ran into Kelsi and I a lot with their kayak. We made a plan to avoid them shortly after this photo was taken.

Snack break! Yes, those are corn nuts I am eating. Even more delicious when enjoyed in the middle of the Pacific.
Our whole group!
Heading back into Juanchaco around sunset. So gorgeous :)
  • Without peer pressure from Kelsi, I never would have gotten out of bed at 5 am for the third day in a row, but somehow we made it down to the shore in time for a 5:30 am departure. Good thing we did, because dolphins awaited us! About 200 m from shore we saw a pair of dolphins playing and presumably, searching for breakfast. After all our time in the Amazons searching for dolphins, and now here they were, right in front of us!
Dark photo of Julio giving us our instructions on the last day. Please note that is it dark because the sun had not yet risen.
  • This day we kayaked around the entire island of Isla Palma, the biggest of the three islands in Bahia Malaga. We had not seen the front of the island from the kayak yet, and it was interesting to compare the two sides. Our guide pointed out how each side is completely unique in vegeatation and animal life, because the wind, weather and water current patterns change from one side to another.
  • We also had a chance to see some cool blue-footed birds!
Checking out the blue footed birds.

Cool Kelsi, I will handle the paddling :)
  • To finish the tour of the island we stopped at a little beach on the backside of the island.
Our own private beach! I was swimming just before we decided to take this photo...thus no pants. Whoops.
Weekend of kayaking = amazing...and also exhausted.
Matching Keens = successful kayaking. :) Yay for Lori & me!
While we definitely wore ourselves out with the weekend of kayaking, this was an absolutely stunning way to see the coast. I love going on trips with Julio because he loves nature and kayaking, and he is super helpful...and non-judging when you flip your kayak. The beauty of the un-developed coast left me dying to go back sometime soon. Supposedly, the whales migrate right along the shoreline from July to October, so we have plans in the works for a fall whale-watching trip...cause that would be...just fabulous. :) Also, Kelsi and I both have life lists of things we want to accomplish and during this trip we discussed changing them from "things to do" to "places to kayak". Updates on that to come.

1 comment:

Melody said...

Not to totally crash your plans, but could you share your info about the whale-watching kayaking trips? That sounds AMAZING.

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