Discover Puerto Rico Mountains (Part 1).
When city folk from Puerto Rico’s populated northeastern region yearn
to relax and indulge in nature, it’s more than likely they’ll head “out on the island,”
far from the bustle and congestion of metropolitan buy augmentin Rico’; return true” onmouseout=”window.status=’ ‘” href=”http://www.map-puerto-rico.com/san-juan-puerto-rico.html”>San Juan.
While they may opt for the delights of sun and surf at a nearby beach, they’re
just as likely to head for the less-populated high country of the Cordillera Central (Central
Mountains), where the air is sweet and cool, the vegetation lush and the pace leisurely.
Like a long, elevated spine, the Cordillera Central traverses Puerto Rico from east to west
for about 60 miles, unveiling a side of the island seen by few tourists.
An unhurried ramble along the western portion of the chain’s Panoramic Route
reveals a world of dense forest reserves, small towns and undulating fields of
coffee. And it offers a step back through history for a glimpse of a lost Indian
civilization that was still flourishing here less than 1,000 years ago.
As you drive along, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of cloud-covered
peaks and subtropical valleys that stretch north to the Atlantic Ocean and
southwards to the Caribbean sea coastline.
Count on two to three days for a foray into this area and keep on hand a
detailed map pinpointing the Panoramic Route, a network of two-lane, blacktop
roads which winds ever upward in a series of switchback turns. Gas stations are
plentiful on the trip’s first leg, but become less so the higher you go.
For snacking, keep an eye out for small grocery stores known as “colmados”
and roadside fruit stands that sell “coco frio” coconut water served ice-cold
from its unhusked shell.
Plan to spend a night or two in a historical “parador,” one of the island’s
small country inns. Several in this region are located in restored, 19th-century
coffee plantations such as the popular Hacienda Gripinas.
Begin your trip from San Juan by taking the Arecibo Expressway and Route 2
to the town of Manati. Turn south on Route 149 as it climbs through haystack-like
karstic hills past the town of Ciales and intersects with Panoramic Route 143.
This 60-mile journey takes approximately two hours and places you at
Divisoria, a small community which straddles 7,000-acre Toro Negro Forest.
Today, the reserve is home to dozens of varieties of plants and majestic
trees, including towering, slender-stalked mountain palm, feathery bamboo and
giant tree fern.
West of the intersection lies the man-made Guineo (banana) Reservoir, the
island’s highest lake, and to the east the Dona Juana Recreational Area with its
ranger station, picnic tables and freshwater swimming pool.
You can follow one of several slippery hiking trails to a deserted watch
tower or to 200-foot Doña Juana Falls.
As you travel west, you will pass Cerro Maravilla, its flanks carpeted with
lush vegetation and a silvery forest of communication towers crowning its
summit. Nearby are some striking lookouts onto the south coast and the Caribbean