Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, and Birding in El Salvador

A blog post will be coming soon about paddling adventures in Central America. Especially a week-long sea kayak trip I made on Costa Rica’s Osa’s Golfo Dulce. Yes, I did cross over to the dark side and pick up a double-bladed paddle and sit in a kayak for many miles. Here’s my take. Canoes will always be my first love and canoes are the way to travel on river trips, and canoes are the only boat that makes sense canoe camping in the BWCA and Quetico. But out on open water? On sounds and the Great Lakes and on the open ocean? Sea kayaks (or sailboats) make the most sense.

El SalvadorYesterday, I completed a 2-day whitewater rafting trip on the Pacuare River. For class III and IV water, for me, a raft makes the most sense. The Pacuare River is an extraordinary adventure. It is almost a continuous run of rapids for nearly twenty miles, framed in blossom studded tropical jungle, dangling waterfalls and echoing Howler monkeys; it lives up to the National Geographic hype as one of the four best whitewater river trips in the world. It was a rollicking good time in a beautiful setting. Running this river in early December was dumb luck. Plenty of space, I booked it the night before, and for the first nine miles, we did not see another raft. Only ten people were staying at the ecolodge half-way down the river. We had the pleasure of swimming alone in waterfall filled pools at the ends of peaceful trails. We had high water and two sunny days. Sunny days are more likely later in the winter as are days when the river is clogged with droves of tourists.

El SalvadorFor class V+ water, like I experienced last winter rafting on the Zambezi River, the best choice for me is to use an alternate means of transportation. Maybe I am a weenie, but waterfalls are better enjoyed from shore than by riding them. For fun, but not terrifying whitewater, the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho and the Pacuare in Costa Rica are in a class by themselves.

This blog though, I would like to plant a seed of opportunity in your mind. A couple weeks ago I connected with arguably the top birder in El Salvador. Sue Plankis and I talked about co-hosting a birding focused, six-day trip in El Salvador guided by this renown ornithologist. Anyone can travel to San Salvador, rent a car and see a bunch of new birds. But here’s the thing. Unless you speak fluent Spanish and unless you are connected with the birding resources of El Salvador you will miss out on many birds, even on entire biomes. It’s difficult to find a birding guide that really knows the birds, who can communicate clearly in English and has the resources and experience to get you safely to the places where you will see the greatest variety of species. El Salvador is a small country with several diverse biomes that can be reached by modern roads. It does not get the crowds of birders that flock to Costa Rica and Panama. As a small group, we will experience an intimate glimpse of some of Central America’s best birding. All Central American countries have issues with security. Traveling with a distinguished and experienced Salvadorian insures a safe and productive trip. Keep looking at my blog for upcoming details about the astonishing opportunity you could seize in the winter of 2018-19.

Rob Kesselring
Guide Service Anywhere

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