Sunday, May 5, 2013

Adventurous Travel: Five Ways to Catch a Thrill in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico may conjure images of white-sand beaches, sleek hotel bars and the dynamic alleys of Old Town, but this Caribbean paradise boasts more than a few ways to get your adrenaline pumping. If you’re looking to experience the island’s more adventurous side, these five ideas are just the things for you.

1. Explore a 45-million-year-old cave system.

Situated in northwestern Puerto Rico, the Rio Camuy Cave Park is part of one of the world’s largest — and oldest — underground cavern systems. Book a tour through this massive park, and you’ll be able to crawl through dramatic stalactites, witness enormous sinkholes and marvel at stone-tapestry rooms. This is truly the experience of a lifetime.

2. Drive an all-terrain-vehicle around the Puerto Rican countryside.
Prefer to stay above-ground? No problem; you can still get your heart racing without descending to the depths. Head to the country, and start your engine for an ATV tour of the mountains, lakes and subtropical forests. It’s a fantastic way to see some of the country’s most picturesque areas while catching a few extra thrills.

3. Hike the El Yunque rainforest.

Combine your sense of adventure with a little local lore on a day trip to the breathtaking El Yunque. This rainforest boasts nearly 250 species of wildlife and plants, and you’ll be able to sneak a peek at an array of magnificent waterfalls, orchids and giant ferns. Just tread lightly; according to Taino Indian legend, the spirit Yuquiyu protected Puerto Rico while sitting on El Yunque’s highest peak, and you don’t want to disturb the balance.

4. Taste your way through a San Juan market.
If your idea of adventure is a plate of authentic local cuisine, thrill your palate on a journey through an authentic San Juan market. With
AmEx Gold Travel Services, you’ll be able to reserve a place on a small-group tour designed to let you try the local specialties directly from the source. Sample seasonal foods and super-spicy sauces from the stalls and vendors at the bustling La Placita market, and then browse the nearby shops for handmade goods. Want an inside tip? Strike up a conversation with the people preparing your food; you might just get a little pro-advice on recreating similar flavors at home.

5. Zip-line under a jungle canopy.
Of course, nothing says adventure like an afternoon of zip-lining. This heart-pounding experience takes you to the center of the Puerto Rican rainforest, and you’ll be able to fly through the verdant canopies and tree-tops as effortlessly as a tropical bird. Try your hand at nine zip-line ropes, 10 suspending platforms and one suspension bridge. Just be sure to keep your eyes open; this trip may focus on top-notch thrills, but the scenery is not to be missed.

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