Punta Izopo is a national park, Garifuna tours offers excursions where you can kayak around the mangroves looking for howler monkeys, alligators, tons of different types of birds, crabs and much more. The lagoons are very calm and so you don’t need to be a kayak expert by any means, which worked out well because I definitely am not.
This adventure started bright and early at the mango hotel at 8 am. From there I walked a few blocks to the office of Garifuna tours. There, our tour guide Lester introduced himself and picked me up in his van. On the way to Punta Izopo, we drove through his community of Triunfo de la Cruz, which happens to be the largest Garifuna community in Atlántida. We stopped by another hotel to pick up 5 more people from San Pedro and started our way to the park.
The short drive took us through the beach and down some dirt roads until we ended up lakeside. There we all got out of the van and Lester kindly set up all of our kayaks, they were double so we all paired up. After making sure everyone had life jackets and a quick intro to kayaking, we were on our way. As we set off the lake was a beautiful dark emerald green and it was so calm you could see the reflection of all the trees and the sky.
Punta Izopo is the name of the national park itself and it contains 3 different types of mangroves; white red and black. Lester told us that the names came from the color inside the root and that in this area you mostly see white mangroves.
He then led us down a series of side lagoons where we easily maneuvered through roots and trees, once we found some land to stand on he helped us all out and showed us some of the different types of crab that call this lagoon home.
Although we hadn’t seen any alligators yet, and never ended up seeing any. Lester insisted that there was one right next to our kayak every 5 minutes. I swear I only fell for it once…
Throughout the 2 and a half hour long kayak we visited 4 different lagoons in the lake before we paddled back. Words cannot describe the serenity and calmness as you slowly make your way around roots and wild animals, it was beautiful.
Once we came back we tried to get unto the van until we realized that our friend Lester had locked the keys inside. He apologized profusely as him, some local fishermen, and some men on the tour proceeded to break into the van to find the keys.
Half an hour later, we were back on the road and on our way to lunch at the beach in Triunfo de la Cruz. I got the fried fish and the rest of the group ordered la sopa marinera, which looked delicious. Next one of the guys on our trip insisted the rest of them try guifiti, a local garifuna liquor that I have come to know very well. So, Lester brought out a bottle and at 2pm in the afternoon we played a question and answer drinking game at the beach while overlooking the beautiful Caribbean sea. A great end to a great day. If you are interested in a similar tour check out Garifuna tours. *guifiti not included.