Yelapa Fun

After almost two months anchored in La Cruz, we FINALLY weighed anchor and headed to our next port.  It was only just across the Bay (Banderas Bay) to the small town of Yelapa, but at least it was SOMEWHERE.

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Goodbye La Cruz! We’ll see you in a couple weeks!

Yelapa is unique in that you can only get to the town by boat or an animal along the horse or donkey variety.  It’s also known for it’s great hikes ending at waterfalls.  We convinced s/vs Charisma and Dos Leos to come along for the hiking fun.  This would be our last hurrah with both boats as Charisma plans to start their puddle jump journey to the Marquesas before we return to La Cruz and Dos Leos will be heading back north to La Paz before heading back to California.  We know we’ll eventually see these wonderful people again back in Cali, but this was our last port in Mexico with people we’ve been cruising with since the HaHa last fall.

Our little trio left La Cruz mid-morning and made good time motoring across the bay and made it into Yelapa’s little alcove by early afternoon.  While you can anchor at Yelapa, it’s quite difficult to find a spot that’s shallow enough and not in the way of all the panga rental moorings, so it’s just easier to pay the 200 pesos a night and tie up to one of the moorings.  The panga drivers come out as soon as they spot you (we couldn’t even see the moorings yet when a ponga came out to greet us) and lead you to their mooring, help you tie up and then give you a ride to shore. 

We had a quick lunch and then decided that since it was only 3pm or so that we’d attempt to do the longer hike up to the bigger waterfall.  Our waiter said it was about an hour and a half hike, pointed us in the right direction and we went off on a pretty clear path through town, over a bridge and up through more town before we hit the real hiking up the mountains.  Early on we were taking photos left and right of the houses, roaming animals, rocky landscape and even broken gates (ahem…Bob on Dos Leos).  But after a good hour and a half of walking, we started getting serious about just getting to the darn waterfall and making it back before the sun started to set.

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Crossing the bridge (top left); One of the hundreds of dogs we saw along our way, just chillin’ (top right); River bed (bottom left) with one of the palapa houses along the shore (bottom right).

We got to our first river crossing probably a little over an hour into the hike and we ran into a couple coming back from the waterfall.  The man said to keep going up and we’d come to a gate.  He said we could go left and the trail would bring us down and then up to the big waterfall. Or he said we could go right and continue to smaller waterfalls that culminate in a lagoon area.  We asked how much farther and he said, maybe 15 more minutes.  Sounded correct to us, so we kept going, crossed another river and then hiked, and hiked, and hiked.  Up and up we went, and no gate.  We had passed locals with mules that you can rent to take you up to the waterfall (which, we thought we didn’t need) and so we followed the hoof prints through a third river crossing and up to where there were a couple of very small waterfalls (really just cascades) and a lot of flat rocks that looked like a nice place for a picnic.  Dave ran ahead to see if he could find this infamous gate, but it had been at least another half hour since we’d seen the couple back at the first river and getting close to 5pm.  If we had two hours of hiking back down to the town, then we needed to get going.  Dave came back and said he thought he found the gate, but couldn’t figure out where the waterfall would be from there, so we headed back, a bit disappointed that we’d gone so far and not found what we had set out for.

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Bob from s/v Dos Leos makes the leap over the first river crossing…no problems here!

On our way back down the mountain, paying more attention the trail and less on our picture taking, we came across a gate that was parallel to the trail.  It had a small green arrow on the bottom board and etched, very small, into the top board was the word “waterfall.” 

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Um, I’m sorry, the broken gate was our turnoff point???  Yeah, can’t believe we missed that! 

Feeling even more disappointed that we missed our turnoff and now didn’t have time to explore this new trail before dark, we kept heading down towards town and back to the boats.

The original plan had been to stay for one day and night in Yelapa and then in the morning take the shorter trail through the other side of town to the small waterfall (only a 20 minute walk), and then Charisma and Dos Leos would head back to La Cruz in the afternoon while Dave and I prepared for our sail around Cabo Corrientes and out of Banderas Bay.

Since we only had the mooring until noon the next day, we all decided that maybe we should spend another full day checking out Yelapa and stay another night.  We walked through more of the town and up to the small waterfall, which really was only about 20 minutes of walking, and then all of us agreed that we’d gone too far yesterday to not go back and find the darn waterfall.

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Dave at the smaller waterfall in town (left); The whole group at the smaller waterfall (courtesy of Charisma) (right).

So off we set again.  Passing through town, passing all the same dogs and horses and cattle that were there the day before, passing all the pretty stones and gates and homes and just passing everything as we marched straight ahead to that darn gate.

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This time going THROUGH the gate.

Good thing we hadn’t tried to find the waterfall after we found the gate the day before because we still had a good 45 minute hike in front of us after we went through the gate.  My feet and legs and rear end muscles were all screaming at me to stop and rest, but we just HAD to get there.  Finally (after a small detour down a trail that ended up not being a trail), we heard rushing water and after we cleared some rocks and brush we found ourselves in front of a lagoon with a very powerful waterfall coming down in the corner.  We had the place to ourselves and wasted no time jumping in and enjoying the cool water. 

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Bigger waterfall and cool lagoon (left) with Dave claiming the waterfall for Camanoe (courtesy of Charisma) (right).

So, two days, probably about 16 miles of hiking (eight miles the first day and maybe a little more than eight the second day), and two waterfalls.  Yelapa – we came, we saw, and I feel like we conquered.

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Safe travels to our buddies from Charisma and Dos Leos – we miss you already!

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Some fav shots: Bob from s/v Charisma with Deanne and Bob from s/v Dos Leos at the bonfire in Muertos back in November (top left); Bob with us on the dock in La Paz after Thanksgiving dinner (bottom left); the whole crew (minus Bob) on Charisma for a potluck and a mean game of CatchPhrase in La Cruz (bottom right).  [This trio of photos courtesy of Charisma]

-SME