Garza Blanca Resort in Puerto Vallarta sits on a large jungle preserve that includes a waterfall. If you are interested in hiking, I highly recommend the guided hike that Garza Blanca offers.
There are several different hiking routes around the preserve that range from easier to more advanced. Different routes are taken depending on the time of year, weather, and the age, size, and skill level of the groups. All of the hikes are lead by local guides who are very knowledgeable about the area, and speak both English and Spanish.
Advanced Hike to Palo Maria
Forty-two hikers age six to sixties departed the lobby of Garza Blanca for the Advanced Hike to the Palo Maria waterfall. Our guide, Tito had a jovial personality was a lot of fun to hike with. He instructed us to wear tennis shoes and bathing suits and come with a good attitude, ready to have fun. He handed out bottles of water to everyone and we started off into the jungle with Tito’s assistant Juan following behind the group.
The first part of the hike is a trail, followed by walking up a riverbed that is full of large boulders. To find the easiest path up river, we needed to cross the river three times. Tito was an absolute expert knowing at the best and easiest places to cross. We had to step on river rocks and climb over large boulders, which is why this route is labeled “advanced.” Tito asked us to help each other climb over the rocks, and let our tennis shoes get wet in the river if necessary.
“Ok amigos, before we get to the waterfall, this is the area where the rocks are a little bit bigger. My suggestion is to stay to the left,” Tito instructed.
Some people wore water shoes, which I thought was a smart idea. I was fine in my tennis shoes, and they didn’t get wet.
Along the way up the river, Tito pointed out Palo Maria trees, which give the waterfall the same name, Jacarandas trees, Coapinole trees, and giant ants.
When we got to the waterfall, we were allowed to swim and jump off rocks into the cool refreshing water of the swimming hole below the falls. Some people swam, some people jumped, and others preferred to stay on the large boulders around the waterfall. Even the kids jumped, and had a fantastic time.
After we finished swimming, Tito asked who would like to continue hiking and who would like to go back to the hotel. Juan took some of the kids and parents back to the hotel, while the rest of us continued on up the mountain.
Spectacular Viewing Platform
The second part of the hike was a steeper trail with ropes along the sides of the trail. We were able to hang onto the ropes and use them to help us hike up the trail. The highest point of the route is 150 meters above sea level. There we found a viewing platform where we were able to see Garza Blanca towers 4 and 5, and Hotel Mousai. We were high up in the mountains behind the resort, with a spectacular view of the Bay of Banderas.
After the viewing platform, the final phase of the hike was a long rock staircase through the jungle down to the Hotel Mousai tennis court. We ended the hike in the racquetball bungalow with a refrigerator full of water bottles and the opportunity to sit on the couches and relax before continuing on with the day’s activities.
Tito informed us that the length of the hike is about 1.25 miles (4500 steps). It was definitely an advanced hike, but it was exhilarating. I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity to hike in the jungle the next time you visit Garza Blanca!