As our group of 6 +2 was preparing to travel to PR for the first time, I looked for a private tour provider to guide us in El Yunque. We understood that the guided hiking path is limited as the guided tours are not allowed on the only remaining hiking path since the hurricane. That independent path is open, but based on some recommendations was difficult to navigate, and we opted for a private guided tour off-the-beaten-path.
Bespoke customer service was friendly and responsive. They warned us of the moderate activity required for the tour, 1 hr each way to get there from San Juan, and they also walked us through expectations, including the combination of hiking and water-immersed adventures. We were told that the initial hike is muddy and we should be prepared for a slippery path with appropriate non-slip hiking shoes but would have limited utility for ponchos and other extras. Throughout the planning stage, Bespoke was responsive to our needs.
On the day of the trip, Hector, our tour guide, was outstanding--organized and engaging; he was equally prepared to talk about the many living wonders of the rainforest and their purpose, as he was to the current situation experienced by locals. He was fun, supportive, and full of great ideas--including a market stop for fruits to eat on our trip. He was reassuring to our friends, who realized while on the van that this adventure was not right for them--but at that point, the return trip for one of 4 couples was difficult to arrange, and they opted to wait for us at the local house--where they were welcomed with Hector's recommendation. After about 25 minutes hike in the muddy, slippery, and not the most beautiful part of the rainforest (I have to presume), we learned about post-hurricane changes and some of the fascinating wildlife there. Then, we had to cross the shallow river as Hector prepared a quick snack of fruits we purchased on the way. They guided those who wanted to rope-swing into the river, and we continued climbing for about 30 more minutes to the diving cliff. I loved both experiences, but none of my friends were interested. They watched the first one and were able to jump off the smaller cliff for the second, to start our return to the van. We changed and were escorted to a really nice area of Luquillo beach, where we had an excellent beachfront lunch. Hector met us after lunch and took us back to the hotel. He continued to be a source of great recommendations for dining and entertainment--and could not have been more accommodating. The Bespoke was genuine in allowing special accommodations for our friends that did not complete the trip. In summary,
1. The actual hiking component of the trip is insignificant unless one is able and interested in being in the water most of the time (at least ankle-deep).
2. Bespoke is very friendly and Hector specifically was outstanding
3. If you choose to go, it's not for the wonders of ElYunque as there are very limited rainforest exposures, but for the water adventures which were really fun and very memorable for me
4. Make sure you are prepared for a muddy slippery walk, that you will most likely encounter rain, and only enter a sense of adventure anticipating some discomforts if you choose to go on this tour. If that's the expectation, Bespoke is excellent.
While short of the "extreme" called by my friends, it was not what I expected of the hike in the rainforest, but I certainly loved it personally, and recommend Hector and Bespoke for the right people looking to experience El Yunque in this limited way.