The Punta Izopo National Park offers the perfect setting for an interactive adventure in nature. Today, my unique adventure begins next to the Lancetilla River in Tela, where Garifuna Tours has its offices. This company has been established in Tela for over 25 years and is a pioneer in eco adventure tours in the Bay of Tela. Once we are checked into our tour, we boarded our vehicle to go east towards Triunfo de la Cruz, one of the Garifuna Villages on the Bay of Tela. From there, we went further east to our destination, the Punta Izopo visitors center.
After registering at the Park entrance, Punta Izopo Adventure is about to begin! I say adventure because we will be paddling our very own sit to top kayak through the estuaries and mangrove canals within the National Park. The estuary is very quiet, and since it is early in the morning, there is no wind, which makes our paddling more relaxing. After donning our life vests and getting our paddle, it is time to get on our kayaks. We gingerly sit on top of them and begin to get used how they maneuver when we paddle. It a short time, I feel comfortable enough to paddle into the estuary. This adventure is literally in my hands now and I am ready to make the best of it!
At first, we feel competitive, and try paddling as fast as we can, but soon, we adjust our rhythm so that we do not tire to fast. We are soon near the entrance to canal that seems to reach deep into de the mangrove forests of Punta Izopo National Park. There is a magical feeling as we enter the mangrove canals. We have no idea of what we will see, but are curious and ready to find out as we paddle forward. Suddenly, we spot an alligator sunning on a fallen tree limb. The fact that we are inches above the water and we have these large reptiles so close gives me the “hiby jibbies”! So, I try to focus on seeing the marine birds that thrive in the park. They are so many and so attractive that it works and for moments I forget about the alligator out there.
As we paddle deeper into the mangrove canals, I hear an aggressive, intimidating howl. I have heard it before, and I know that we must be close to a troop of howler monkeys! I know that they pose no threat, and so we continue into the narrowing mangrove canal. Me attention jumps from trying to spot the monkeys and making sure there are no more alligators lurking in the waters close to me! Just then, I spot a troop of monkeys high in the mangrove treetops.
They seem to have seen us also, because the are all now aggressively howling at us, to intimidate us and make us go back! After a few minutes, we are ready to continue our tour, but we need to turn our boats around in this narrow canal. After some maneuvering, me manage to get tour kayaks facing the exit and continue our Punta Izopo Adventure.
Next, our Punta Izopo adventure brings us to the beach. It is time to get off our personal kayaks and enjoy the beach. From our beachside location, we can see some ominous rocks jutting out from the sea. They look beautiful but are obviously a threat to seaman if they venture to close to them. They are home to a myriad of birds, including many pelicans who call this rocky formation home. On our way back towards Tela, we make a stop at Triunfo de la Cruz. It is time for a tasty seafood lunch next to the beach. In the meantime, in addition to a refreshing swim in the ocean, we enjoy the young kids who turn an empty bucket into a drum. Boy do they know how to beat a drum!
As we exit town towards Tela, we happen upon don Ceferino, an octogenarian Garifuna who still manufactures drums. He is also a guifity brew master who makes his own brand of guifity! A great opportunity to buy a drum or a bottle of guifity! If you are ready to live your very own Punta Izopo adventure, I recommend the services of Garifuna Tours. Another company that provides services to this park is Eco de Mare Tours. Both are profesional and have their base in Tela. They will make sure that you have a unique experience in Atlantida!