We appreciate it when our guests share their stories, comments and photos with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Dianne Raymond, from Fort Fraser, BC Canada, who recently traveled with us on one of our Copper Canyon Independent Trips and had this to report:
I really enjoyed it all. Some of the favorite parts of the trip were the visits to Urique, Batopilas and the train trip. The local guides and drivers were helpful and friendly, especially the guide at Divisadero. We had a lovely river tour in El Fuerte. Our driver in Batopilas took us to see the entrance of a mine, he definitely knew his way around.
I liked having our train tickets, accommodations and transportation organized for us. We then had the freedom to do what we wanted the rest of the time.
Everything was well organized and seamless, good organization up front. It was grand and we felt safe. I have many memories that I will cherish. Thank you.
Imagine the gut feel of gravity pulling down—your hands gripping the paddle down in the water, your legs braced down into the side of a big rubber boat, heart beating down in your chest, teeth clenched down until SPLASH, the boat plows a wave and sends a white spray sunbursting up over you and your crewmates. A brief pause to cheer, but you stay focused, because right now you are drifting down into another exciting rapid.
River Rafting in Costa Rica has long been a favorite destination for both the beginner and the experienced rafter. With ample annual rainfall, mountainous rainforest landscapes, and plenty of road-to-river access, the country prides itself on being a whitewater paradise. To top it off, Costa Rica has warm weather year round making it perfect for a swim during the calm intermissions between rapids.
The only thing that comes close to the thrill of sluicing through a rapid is when you take a moment to look around at the natural beauty that is Costa Rica. And from a raft on the river, you are at the beating heart of it. The turbulent water awakens the senses.
Tours depart in the early morning from San Jose. From there, you are driven to the outpost for a delicious breakfast. After breakfast, it’s to the river’s edge where your equipment is adjusted for a proper fit and you receive safety instructions and tips for basic paddling strokes. Safety is always a top concern during any tours hosted by The California Native and the guides are experienced professionals with extensive knowledge of whitewater navigation, river rescue, and first aid.
Travelers with The California Native enjoy experiencing the rapids and the rainforests on the Reventazón or Pacuare rivers.
The Reventazón River is a good place for those curious about the sport and want to ease into it. The various stretches of the river accommodate all types of people, from those who want to take a calm, relaxing, scenic float trip, to those seeking a more thrilling day in challenging Class II and III rapids.
For those who want even more excitement, the Pacuare River is a great choice. Chock full of expert-level rapids, the Pacuare is a world-famous run guaranteed to get the pulse pounding. Flowing toward the Atlantic, the 14-mile run winds through dense jungle giving you plenty of opportunities to spot parrots, toucans, monkeys, and butterflies. But be sure not to take your eyes off the water for too long, because the rapids, which in some spots can be rated up to Class V, are best viewed from inside the boat rather than out. If you do become separated from your seat, don’t panic, the guide will be quick to fish you back on board.
For those who can’t get enough, The California Native offers a 2-day option where guests are able to overnight on the Pacuare at a riverside lodge. There is no better way to relax from a day of paddling than to be lulled by the sounds of the river while looking forward to another day of rapid transit. On the second day, more rapids with names like ‘Two Mountains’ and ‘Cimmaron’ (translated from Spanish as ‘wild’) lay downstream ready to challenge you and your crew mates.
We appreciate it when our guests share their stories, comments and photos with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Barbara & Ashley Blankenship, from Los Angeles, California, traveled with us on our 5-Day Peru Explorer with Add-ons and had this to report:
It was the trip of a lifetime – actually 3 trips in one, since the experiences were so different in the Inca region, the rainforest, and the coastal desert.
We loved it all but these were unanticipated pleasures. We especially recommend the Larco Museum in Lima and the museum of Pre-Columbian Art in Cusco for their elegant coverage of pre-Inca materials. We hadn’t expected the Islas Ballestas to be so magnificent. We are glad we dropped by there on our way back from Nasca.
We appreciate it when our guests share their stories, comments and photos with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Recently, Steve Donaldson, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, traveled with us on our Copper Canyon 8-day Independent Tour and wrote us this letter:
Hi Dave. We finished our Copper Canyon Tour a few days ago and I thought I would provide some feedback on our trip. First, thanks for setting it all up. Everything worked out great and we had an incredible experience. I will certainly recommend The California Native to others. Attached is a day by day run-down.
Taxi from Los Mochis airport to El Fuerte: We went to the taxi dispatch booth as recommended and secured a taxi to El Fuerte as you suggested. Excellent hotel and the staff were very accommodating which we enjoyed very much.
Days Two and Three
Check-out and transfer to the train worked well and the conductor had our tickets for the rest of the train ride.
We were met at the train station in Bahuichivo by Hugo from Paraisio del Oso.
His English is perfect and he was very helpful and informative our entire stay at the lodge. Hugo suggested we hike up to Yogi Bear, it was great. Back down then into town where we had some wine at the Hotel Mission.
As I said, Hugo was great and very helpful and informative our whole stay. We had a great trip into Urique then a hike to the caves with his nephew and the next morning a horseback ride.
All transfers worked out great and our room at the Best Western Lodge in Creel was excellent. A great example of rustic appearance with added amenities such as internet and even TV (even though we didn’t need TV it was a nice addition). We were also introduced to our guide by Salvadore from S&G Tours for the next day tour.
Martin from S&G picked us up at 0930 and we were off on the tour. He was very accommodating to our needs and was helpful and we saw all the key sights – waterfall, lake, mission, Valley of the Monks, and caves.
Check-out, train transfers and check-in to Mirador all worked out great. Hotel Mirador lives up to the pictures. I took two great hikes for a couple of hours, unguided, and loved it. Dinner was excellent.
Great breakfast and lunch. Had time for a couple of great hikes – not a cloud in the sky. Check-out seamless as was the transfer to the train. The staff at Mirador were excellent and very professional.
Again, thanks for making it happen and especially for your flexibility in our tour modifications and the personal contact to arrange everything.
Spring has sprung and what better time to visit Ireland, “Land of Green” than now. On our bicycle and walking adventures, you’ll travel down country roads past neolithic stone ruins, medieval castles, Iron Age forts, and prehistoric burial sites. Ireland has rugged mountains, sea-battered cliffs, quiet woodlands and beautiful lakes, and each time you turn a corner the scenery changes. In this fairy tale environment, it’s not hard to imagine that a leprechaun is watching you from just behind an ancient stone fence.
The mild climate, quiet country roads and wandering trails make bicycling or walking perfect ways to explore this colorful island country, where there are no language barriers, and the friendly Irish people make you feel at home. Whether walking or cycling we spend our nights at small family-run hotels and charming B&B’s and, of course, we enjoy the music and good cheer of Ireland’s famous pubs.
We appreciate it when our guests share their stories, comments and photos with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Recently, Sandy and Harry Scott, from Asheville, North Carolina, traveled with us on our Copper Canyon 11-day Independent Tour to the Bottom and had this to report:
Keep making your excellent itineraries, everything was so easy! We loved having reservations made. Not needing to get taxis was a welcome luxury to have. All our needs taken care of. Going the extra mile exceeded our expectations – example: having the driver take us to our Air BnB at the end of the trip. Laurie was particularly helpful. Participating in the Christmas Posado was very meaningful, I was very positively and emotionally impacted by the experience. We will call you again!
We appreciate it when our guests share their stories with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Carol Schlafly, from Nashville, TN, wrote us about her recent escorted adventure in the Copper Canyon:
It was all just wonderful, food was great, all arrangements were just great, the hotels were great too! Rob [California Native guide] is wonderful — whatever we needed, he made it happen. Our al fresco lunch on the way to Batopilas was an unexpected and very sweet surprise.
I thought the prep work was great — wonderful info, all arrangements were very smooth, instructions were good. All the local guides and drivers were wonderful. A+ for all, lunch on the beach after petting the dolphins was great!
It was an adventure, we saw and did things I would not have ordinarily done, we saw some amazing terrain and some excitement along the way! Very exciting!
Rob Aikins is amazing. I could write a book on all the things he handled & how patient and understanding he was. His knowledge of the area and the contacts (he knows everyone) are fabulous. I would definetly recommend this tour to friends.
For the first time in more than one hundred years, researchers have found newborn baby tortoises on the tiny Galapagos Island of Pinzón. Good news indeed since the population has struggled after being nearly decimated by human impact.
Whalers and invasive rats devastated the species when they arrived aboard ships in the 17th and 18th centuries; the rats then spent more than a century preying on the island’s hatchlings, according to the Galapagos Conservancy.
The tiny turtle find validates more than 50 years of conservation efforts, which have included growing hatchlings in captivity until they are large enough to be released without falling prey to rats, as well as a push to eradicate the rodents. The arid island was finally declared rat-free in 2012.
The Galápagos Islands, home to the giant tortoises and many other unique species were first discovered in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga, the bishop of Panama, when his ship drifted off course while on its way to Peru. He named the Islands Las Encantadas, “The Enchanted,” and marveled at the thousands of giant tortoises living there. Because of these tortoises, the Islands became known as the Galápagos—the Spanish word for tortoise.
Sailors—explorers, pirates and whalers, saw the huge tortoises, which weigh up to 550 pounds, as a convenient source of fresh meat, for the tortoises can survive long periods of time without food or water, and can live in the hold of a ship for up to a year. When British naturalist Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos in 1835, aboard the HMS Beagle, the islands’ residents showed him how to tell which island a tortoise belonged to by the shape of its shell. Pondering the causes for this localized diversity led Darwin to develop his Theory of Evolution.
At the time of his visit there were around a quarter of a million tortoises living on the islands. Today less than 15,000 remain. Of the original 15 subspecies, only eleven are left—three have become extinct and the fourth has only one individual left. Thousands of the animals were slaughtered by the crews of sailing ships and, when the islands were colonized in 1832, pigs, goats, rats and other animals also arrived, eating eggs and young tortoises and destroying nests and food supplies.
It is believed that the tortoises, who can float on the sea for several days, came to the Galapagos from the South American mainland. Once on the islands they encountered no enemies. Each of the islands presented its own unique environmental challenges, and the isolated tortoises evolved to take advantage of these differences—tortoises on islands with taller vegetation have longer necks.
Because of the tortoises extreme longevity, visitors to the Islands may unknowingly photograph some of the same tortoises that Darwin himself observed back in 1835.
There are so many strange stories, landscapes, and creatures on these islands which inspired Charles Darwin to discover the principles of evolution. Please join us on our Galapagos Islands tours.
We appreciate it when our guests share their stories with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Charlie Stephens, from Olympia, WA, wrote us this short letter about his independent adventure with us in the Copper Canyon:
Thanks for organizing a wonderful trip for us in the Copper Canyon (we took the 5-day independent.) It was just the right “taste” of this spectacular and fascinating area. My 72 year old mom, who’s a little hobbled, had a great time, and didn’t have too much trouble getting around. Accommodations and food were great too. Thanks for a great trip!
Last month California Native founder and president Lee Klein, again attended ATMEX, the premier Adventure Travel event in Mexico held in Chiapas, quickly becoming renowned as the adventure capital of Mexico. It was a great opportunity to meet again with adventure tour providers in Mexico and develop future partnerships for providing California Native adventures in this exciting and beautiful state.