We finally made it! Albeit, I was a little sick the few days prior and wasn’t sure that I was going to have enough energy to get through the entire 6 hour canyon tour, but we did. And it was worth it! It was only $30 each and included the guide, life vests, an inner-tube for the dog and lunch. A little side note*** This is in dry season, the canyon is nearly impassible in wet season and becomes highly dangerous, make sure your shoes have good traction.****
First, you drive up and park at Somoto Canyon Tours, it’s like its own very tiny village. There are a couple of houses, a tiny hostel and a restaurant. There’s not even really parking for more than 2 maybe 3 cars. We were greeted by a man, who only spoke Spanish, who took us to the restaurant and gave us information about the tour. He gave us multiple different options for tours, there are 4 different ones that vary in length and ability, and allowed us to bring Roxy. He gave us all life vests, grabbed a tube, his dry bag and an additional life vest for Roxy then we set out for the canyon.
It’s a canyoning tour, so making sure you bring the correct footwear is essential. If you have a pair of closed toed shoes that you don’t mind getting rid of, or taking a few days to dry out, bring those. If not, I suggest investing in a good pair of water shoes. When we were walking out of the canyon, we saw a group of people in their brand name clothes, nice shoes and leather purses, Gucci sunglasses and all getting ready to do the same thing we just did and the guide looked at them like they were crazy. Needless to say, they got down the canyon to the water and ultimately decided not to get their shoes, or any part of themselves wet… I don’t know what kind of excursion they thought they were going on, but hey, if that’s what you wear to do rigorous, outdoor exercise and get dirty… Be happy doing it.
The first thing you do is walk about half a mile down the highway to a long dirt road. You walk up this road for quite a while but what’s cool about it is, if it’s just rained and washed away a bunch of dirt and debris, you’ll notice that you’re walking on Jade. Yes… Jade, real, raw, uncut Jade. They don’t want you to take the big stones, but they don’t mind if you take a couple of the small pebble stragglers. After the rains though, the road gets covered with dirt, the Jade gets buried and you won’t see it. All of the green “rocks” you see in this video are all Jade.
You’ll come to private property where the guide will open gates and you’ll walk alongside some cows, and beware of cow poop, it’s everywhere. After a long climb up in wide open spaces and a beautiful view, you’ll begin to descend into the canyon.
It’s a steep trail down and it’s rocky. There are no hand rails or ropes and the views are amazing. From the trail, your guide can point out the border to Honduras as it’s less than a mile away. Many indigenous use the footpath to that border to trade goods with Honduras or visit their families. They say you can cross that border by car, but we never did, so I don’t know how reliable that information is.
Once you’re down the trail, it opens up to the river. You’ll walk along the river for a short time before you come to the first section of rocks that you’ll clamber over. You’ll cross the river and walk up to a 20 ft jump, where you can choose to jump or skip it and just float down the river. We jumped. Of course we did. There will be a few more of these, the highest one being 50 feet. There is one section that you actually have to jump. If you don’t you have to shoot through a “slide” that has been pretty dangerous in the past, where people have been really badly hurt from hitting their faces on the rocks as they’re being shot through. It’s 15 feet high and the guide brings rope, just in case you need to rappel or be lowered down. Roxy, obviously wasn’t going to just jump 15 feet off a cliff into water, so we strapped the life vest on her and tied her up in the rope and lowered her down. This was her least favorite part of the entire trip.
After floating down the river and climbing up rocks to jump off of, we came to a tiny cave and were able to stick our heads in it. We also had the opportunity to climb through a “window” in of the wall of the canyon that had been carved out by water over the centuries.
After a couple of hours of being in the cool and refreshing water, you come to a clearing, where there is a row boat waiting for you. Everyone climbs in and they take you to the end of your tour, where you have to walk back out, practically the same way you came, but it’s all up hill and it’s hot. You walk for about 45 minutes before arriving at the restaurant, where they serve you lunch and a drink. The food is delicious and the company is great. The guides and all the other people on their tours all gather around the table and share stories, talk about their travels and their experience in the canyon. They take your payment and any tip you want to leave, and you walk away with memories of a lifetime. Not too bad for $30/ person, right?