Nat’s Travels – Adventure Sports In The Small Town Of Jalcomulco
I love adventure sports! happily admit that I am not an expert at any sport, but I like to try my hand at anything and everything. The only problem I have with adventure sports is choosing where to do them. There are often options everywhere, but adventure sports tend to be expensive. So I tend to choose one spot for each activity I want to do. I look for a place that is good for the activity, yet preferably not too touristy.
I’m not sure where I heard of the tiny town of Jalcomulco, but I was drawn to go here for white water rafting. When I heard of Jalco Expediciones and their wide range of activities I had to give it a try.
The Main Event
Getting to Jalcomulco is not the easiest journey! First you have to get to Xalapa (which is a lovely city) and from there it is about an hour taxi ride to the town.
I was doing “A Little Bit of Everything” with Jalco Expediciones, which included an overnight stay and three activities.
The first activity was white water rafting, this would be my third time rafting. And I loved it. We spent a few hours rafting down the Rio Pescados, ending back in the town itself. There were plenty of different rapids along the way, with some interesting names, such as the Egg and the Washing Machine. Though my favourite has to be the White Witch, this was one of the harder rapids, where the river made a sharp bend. This meant that we had to paddle backwards at the correct moment to stop from tipping over.
The guide was great at making sure we did the right movements at the right time. We didn’t tip over once and no one fell out. He was also great at pointing things out.
It wasn’t just rafting on the river though. In safe areas we were encouraged to jump out and have a float. There was also a rock to jump off at one point; this was the scariest part of the activity!
Rappelling And Zip Lines
The second activity was one that I have never done before, rappelling. We drove and then walked for about twenty minutes to reach the canyon where we would rappel.
I was quite nervous about this, but after a bit of instruction I felt fine. Although walking backwards to the edge of a cliff is not an easy thing to do! And I found it a little difficult figuring exactly how to lean back so that my weight was in the right place. My first rappel I went rather slow, at the last few metres I was encouraged to jump, which was great fun.
I had two more goes at the rappelling and each time I made my way down faster and faster. I was also jumping from higher up with each go. It was such good fun!
The third activity was zip lining. Another one that I have done before, but only really discovered in the past year. The zip lining technique here was very interesting. A member of staff does the zip line first and you are given a stick to use as a break. Seriously! Once you have slowed down at the end, you grab a rope and are pulled in!
This was a three-course zip line, the first was a short taster and the next two went across the river. After the second line you have to be lowered down from a platform in a tree. It is certainly the most rustic zip line course I have done, but it was still great fun.
Pizza And More
The Jalco Expediciones office is also a restaurant, a Pizzaria. The owners spent time in Italy and learnt how to cook authentic Italian pizza. And they were good. My favourite was the vegetarian calzone.
On the second day I went to Restaurante Los Cachanes for breakfast. This restaurant is located on the edge of the river and is actually where the rafting finished the day before. I had a simple Mexican breakfast of coffee, orange juice, fruit and yoghurt and eggs and beans (obviously with tortillas). This restaurant is also good for fish and shrimp, no surprise given it’s location!
Jalcomulco is a very small town, which is becoming a bit of an eco-resort with all the adventure activities that are available. The best part about this is that all the businesses are working as a ‘Cluster’. This means that they help each other out. For example, the zip lining I did was with a separate company – Tirolesa Tepetlán . But they all get business for each other where they can. The hotel I stayed in (Hotel Los Alcatraces) and the restaurant I ate in were all part of this cluster.
It’s a great way to work; there is no competition. Instead, they all know what each other can do and work with each other. All the community works together. Which will hopefully make this area grow. In my mid it could easily become the Mexican Queenstown.
¡No A Las Presas!
A sad, but very moving bit of information about Jalcomulco. The river that the town is located on, and relies on is under threat. The river is literally the source of life for the town and the surrounding areas. It is important for fishing and agriculture, not to mention the tourist trade.
In 2014 the Veracruz government approved a contract with a Brazilian company to damn the river for hydropower. All the locals are against this dam, for obvious reasons. The dam company has said that it will release the damn for rafting a few days a week at certain times. Not necessarily the best compromise. And I’m not sure how that’ll help the fishing!
Work had already began, despite the locals not wanting this. On 20th January 2014 hundreds of locals set up camp on the highway next to the river. And it has been there since. Every day volunteers watch day and night to ensure the dam is not put up. It has been four years and the government has not cancelled the contract, but the people of this area will not stand down. And so the struggle continues to save not only a river, but an environment and hundreds of people’s livelihood.