Tag Archives: mexico

Kite Boarding in La Ventana, Mexico

Hunter saw some videos of people snow kiting in November and decided that he really really really wanted to learn how to do that. We decided that we would test out learning to kiteboard on water first as it seemed like the crashes would hurt less…

As luck would have it, we had a broader family trip scheduled to Cabo San Lucas in February so we decided to find a way to fit a kiteboarding adventure in. We went to Captain Kirks resort in La Ventana, which is just south of La Paz on the Sea of Cortez. It is about 2.5 hours north east of Cabo San Lucas. The resort was fabulous… the kite school is right on site, the accommodations are fabulous – a set of individual casas and casita’s depending the size of your group, and everything is right off the beach.

La Ventana is a very small coastal town south of La Paz on the eastern side of the Baja Peninsula. It is recognized as a fabulous location to learn to kite board due to the predictable thermal winds, relatively calm tides and the fact that the winds are mostly onshore, which means that you won’t get blown out to the ocean if you make a mistake. The beaches are also fairly wide with lots of room to learn to fly the kites on the sand before committing to getting dragged around the ocean.
 The beginner package is 9 hours, split up over 3 days, and walks you through everything you need to know to get started. It also includes all of the equipment that you will need, including wetsuits.
The first 3 hours is spent learning about the gear, safety and how to fly a trainer kite, which gives you a taste of the power of the wind.

The second 3 hours steps you up into the full sized kites, you learn how to self-rescue in case of any equipment breakage when out in the water and really get comfortable launching the kite and flying it in all sorts of different positions. One of the hardest things is parking the kite straight above you at “noon” – this is basically putting it in neutral where the wind is not driving you in any specific direction. We ended our second lesson doing body dragging with the kite in the ocean, learning how to go upwind and downwind and basically go where you want with the kite.

The third 3 hours puts everything together and you now incorporate the kite board into the equation. You learn how to “surf” just holding the board under your body to get leverage. Once you are comfortable with that, you then work on parking the kite at noon, getting the board on your feet (with one hand still on the kite), staying neutral and stable and then powering up the kite to get enough wind to pull you out of the water. You are looking to generate enough wind power to be similar to when a boat pulls a wakeboarder out of the water (at approx 15-20km/hr). This is all great in concept but super challenging in reality. It involves a lot of crashes – some small and some spectacular – think front edge crashes on a snowboard while being pulled forward at the waist at 15km/hr…
One of the scariest parts was being out in the water, trying to figure out how to get up and going and being surrounded by all these other kiters zipping by. It would be akin to learning to ski on the bunny hill, but having the bunny hill placed in the middle of a fast blue run!
Like any sport, it all looks so easy from the outside…. Sometimes it’s tough to put yourself back in a learners mindset and be patient with the learning curve.
It was great having the ATV shuttle on our last day as you were able to get twice as many downwind runs in without having to march yourself and the kite back up the beach all the time.

Overall we had a fun three days and definitely recommend both Captain Kirk’s and kiting for other adventure seeking families!

 

Never winter family whitewater adventures (Mexico)

The original article can also be found at http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2018/01/11/never-winter-family-whitewater-adventures-part-three/

It’s winter and for most people the kayaking season has been over for a few months. For those in the northern hemispheres that are still paddling, you are likely wearing a lot of layers to ward off the chill. Time to think about heading SOUTH for warm water and warm weather…

Most people think that they can’t go off on a winter kayaking trip unless they are solid class 4/5 paddlers, and you can’t go with kids! This is absolutely not the case! Over a series of four posts, we are going to lay out our experiences and recommendations for heading south as a kayaking family.

Destination #3 is Mexico, which is located in the southern most part of North America and is a beautiful country. The majority of the kayaking is on the eastern side in the regions of Valles and Vera Cruz, which are north east and south east, respectively, of Mexico City. The peso is the national currency but you can get away with US $$ in some places.

At the time that we went, this region of Mexico was considered fairly safe but that can change so be sure to check with the local tour operators. The only sketchy part was the drive through the northern region near the Reynosa border crossing as we drove from San Marcos, Texas down to Valles on both of our trips. Being in a van for 16 hours is not the most family friendly experience so we would definitely recommend flying into Mexico City (for trips to Vera Cruz) or Tampico (for trips to Valles).

Mexico is not as clean as Costa Rica of Ecuador and the water should not be assumed to be drinkable. The roads are a work in progress in many regions and armed military guards are the norm as you drive through every town. Don’t be surprised when you get stopped – just stay friendly and in most cases, all is fine.

The rivers in the Valles region are the most family friendly however it is a bit harder to mix and match things here. Neither of the outfitters that we worked with had the ability to provide multiple itineraries within a trip. This is a great region to learn how to do drops and slides, with most being between 5-10 feet. We did this trip the first time when Hunter was ten and anything he (or we) weren’t comfortable with him running, we tossed his boat over and then he and Tim would jump off the drop.

Our second trip was when he was 11 and by then he was more comfortable with the idea of slides and drops and we would allow him to do anything up to around 10 feet. There was only one drop bigger than that (20 ft) and Hunter and I took out before it and hiked around it on the road.

Rivers that we have paddled in the Valles Region:

  • Rio El Salto – an amazingly azul blue river full of pool drops and slides over travertine
  • Rio Micos –  Upper and lower sections – more travertine slides and small drops and super warm water
  • Rio Tampaon – big water wave trains and canyons

We have not yet paddled in the Veracruz region but have heard great things about it. Aventuretec is where most paddlers base out of and there is a range from class II to class V runs all within a few hours.

Things to think about when considering Mexico:

  • Most of the water is warm but you can get cooler days as you are up in the mountains – bringing an assortment of gear allows you to have choices to match the weather as well as a better chance of your gear drying if you can alternate sets each day
  • Long pants and tops are important for both the sun and the bugs – don’t forget socks as the sand flies can get pesky
  • Bring both bug spray and sun screen for on and off the river
  • You can use US $$ in some places but be sure to have small bills. You will get a better exchange rate / price if you are using pesos so consider changing some before you travel
  • Assume that the water is NOT drinkable and always ensure that the water you are drinking has come out of a bottle
  • We have invested in break apart paddles so we can bring our own paddles easily with us on the plane. For those that don’t have them, you can rent paddles in most places, which is often easier than checking full paddles as luggage (no matter how well you pack them)
  • The travertine can scratch up hands, which can turn into infections. We learned and brought gloves for that extra layer of protection on our 2nd trip
  • Experiencing the culture of a new country is half the fun – be sure to check out the fun foods that can be found at the corner stores and the small community restaurants
  • Everyone is quite friendly so be sure to stop and say hi and experiment with your spanish

When we travelled we went with Ben Kvanli of Warm Whitewater. He has been travelling to the region for years and takes a group down once a month from October to March each year. It is a more economical way to go as the group drives down in a van from San Marcos, Texas, and shares travel costs. It is a VERY long drive to be in a small space with kids…On our second trip to Valles we met up with Tom McEwan of Calleva’s Liquid Adventure School. He has also been running trips to both Valles and Veracruz for many years and is well respected in the region. He trailers his boats down there in November and then has guests fly in for the week. We would recommend flying in for your first trip – it is safer and will have everyone in a good mood when you get there rather than grumpy from a 16 hour car ride.

The Vincent Family (www.instagram.com/chasingthesunyt // www.facebook.com/chasingthesunyt // www.twitter.com/chasingthesunyt // www.chasingthesun.ca )

More information is available at:

https://calleva.org/kayakmexico/

https://www.facebook.com/WARMWhitewater/

https://www.aventurec.com

Season Two is launched

do what you love

After lots of research, and then more research, we are really excited to share that our plans for the coming year are coming together… and we are really excited! The theme continues to be active adventure and sunshine.

SUMMER 2014:

Based out of our home base here in Whitehorse, we will spend the majority of our time out Mountain Biking, on our world class trails, and whitewater kayaking on the local rivers (fingers crossed that the water levels come up).

While it is looking like our anticipated day trips and overnight camping on the Wheaton may not come together in June, we are planning for 2-3 trips up to the Ross River area to camp and paddle the Lapie River during late June and July.

Hunter and I will also head east to Ontario to do the “cottage thing” with family  in August – nothing like endless days of swimming, waterskiing, boating and heading into town for ice cream with your cousins. This year we will be celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday, which is certainly extra special. We will also tack on some time in Ottawa to do some exploring and  canadian history work.

FALL 2014:

Heading back to my happy place with a quick trip out to Tofino on Vancouver Island. A week of surfing and hanging out on the beach and at Hunter’s favourite skateboard park. Our visits to Tofino keep getting better and better so I’m looking forward to what new things this trip will bring.

Mexico – we’re coming back!!! After having so much fun in February, we are happy to be able to head back down to Texas to join up with our new friends Ben, Kelly, Phil & Nejla to go paddling in North Eastern Mexico for a week over American Thanksgiving. The only part I’m not looking forward to is the 14 hour drive (down and back). It will be fun to paddle at Rio Vista again as well, maybe even under the lights!

WINTER 2014:

We will be rushing out the door shortly after Santa lands at our house for a 2 week adventure in Ecuador. Nine days of whitewater kayaking with Endless Adventures International and then another 5 days exploring the countryside (still deciding between an Andes or an Amazon adventure – anyone with experiences should chime in!).

Fingers crossed that the weather mid-January to mid-February will be temperate so we can get out and enjoy snowboarding at our local hill here in town.

The beach is calling – we had so much fun down in Oceanside last year (fall and spring) that we are heading back down for just over three weeks from mid February to mid March. We are renting a beach house with Grandma Lynne and will have various other family coming to hang out. Looking forward to lots of surfing, biking and skateboarding, along with some down time in the sun.

We will make it back just in time to catch peak snowboarding at the White Pass Summit. Late March – mid April are still winter here in the Yukon but the bluebird skies and above freezing day time temps, coupled with lots of snow, make for a fabulous back country experience. We squeezed in one trip in late April this year after we got back and it reminded us how much we enjoy being out and playing in the mountains.

I’ve been driving Tim nuts with all of the research and logistics work over the past month but it is really worth it financially. I was able to get almost all of our flights on points, which I figure saved us over $8000.00. We are working within Tim’s vacation allotment this year, which is what has us taking this approach. It will be a learning experience, and another opportunity to identify what works best for us as a family. There is definitely some hesitation about travelling without our great big gear locker.

I’m excited to see what the year will bring, how we can optimize it for homeschooling (we are all going to be tackling spanish lessons this summer) and balance some work in between all the fun.

Mexico Whitewater Adventures

flowers 1For many great reasons, we decided to go to the Huasteca region of NE Mexico with Ben Kvanli of the Olympic Outdoor Centre in San Marcos, Texas. It was a bit of a leap in the sense that this was a no frills trip that kicked off with a 15+ hour drive, along with 5 other people, in a passenger van to get there. It turned out to be a fabulous week and we now have 4 new friends – Kelly, Phil, Nejla & Greg!

van loaded with boatsQuick & dirty Beta: We were in the state of San Luis Potosi, the Huasteca Region (mountains & rivers) and paddled on 3 distinct rivers with 3+ conditions- Rio El Salto (travertine slides & drops), Rio Micos (travertine slides & drops), and Rio Tampaon (flat water, standing waves in canyons, flat water). We also toured around and saw the Cascadas de Tamul on the Rio Santa Maria, the Sola de Goldrinas Tamapa and the city of Valles.

huasteca map 2

lee tim hunter water fallWe left Saturday February 1st at 12:45 am. This was intentional as it enables us to pass through Mexican customs at first light (i.e. 7:00 am) and then drive the remaining time in the light on the Mexican highways (where 2 lanes are actually 3 lanes). We stopped in Victoria for lunch at 11:30 and then carried on to Huasteca Secreta on the Salto River – our home for 2 nights.  We stayed in small yurts with outside bathrooms and showers, surrounded by lush vegetation. The hotel is right on the Salto River – an azul blue warm water river – right at the base of a 160 foot waterfall.

We had a fairly slow and lazy first paddle on the lower Saltos by the time we got going on Sunday. It was a run full of slides and drops that worked their way from smaller to larger… warm water and sunshine helped with all of the comfort zone stretching that was going on! The put in is just up the road from the hotel but a bit of a bush wack and steep climb down the rocky slope to get to the river. The slides and drops are all made of travertine, a type of corral, that builds up in the river and also has lots of green, lush growth that makes the slides slippery.

Hunter did a fabulous job of running his first drops and he loved the bump & grind of the slides. He did his first combat roll at the bottom of a 10 foot drop and there were loud cheers by everyone. My big win of the day was going over the 20 ft salsa drop. It had a 5 foot slide and then the drop. The 5 feet went much faster than I was expecting and over I went, screaming I’m sure! Hunter chose not to do this one and he and Tim portaged around part of the drop and then found a place to throw their boats off and jump 10 feet into the water, which was better than the scratchy bushes.

lee salsa drop on saltosTim joined Ben, Phil, Greg & Nejla for an afternoon run on the Upper Saltos and had a good time. It was a bit rushed as it was getting dark but they powered through everything!

tim upper saltos drop 2Phil made some great videos of our runs on the Saltos:

Hunter
http://youtu.be/6nxttFkuJXE

Tim
http://youtu.be/rPIycTjmCO8

Lee
http://youtu.be/ypxtabrU2cY

Monday saw us driving from El Naranjo down to just north of Ciudad Valles and to the camp on the Rio El Micos. We got in around lunch time, got settled in our palappas and then did an easy run down the lower Micos.

The camp was similar in style to what you see on the Ottawa River with a number of cabins spread out across the property, a couple of washroom/shower buildings and then a main eating hut. The rate was very affordable and the staff were wonderful. This is a tourist location for Mexicans that are looking to raft, zipline and play in the waterfalls.

The lower micas run starts just up the road from the camp in the midst of a local farmers market. There are a number of small drops that converge on the river here so it made a good place to play and warm up. The rest of the run was made up of small surf waves and easy slides and drops.

Tuesday was exploring day and we started off with Hunter and Ben doing a short run down the Santa Maria to the top of the Cascadas de Tamul while the rest of us hiked in. It was quite beautiful and very very high!

A few other stops that day were the Sotano de las Golondrinas, a great big sinkhole, a stop in a small village where we bought Diet Coke from the “American Store” and Hunter’s new favourite – Chile Corn (roasted corn on the cob with butter, chile & lime) on a stick and then dinner at Ricardo’s Taqueria in Valles. On our way home Ben bought some fabulous bar stools dirt cheap (I wonder why…) from a truck in the alley!

Wednesday was a long day of shuttling and paddling as we paddled the Tampoan River, which was an hours drive away from camp. Ben’s local rafting friends decided to join us, which made for a very full van and a fun group on the river. The Tampoan is different from the Salto & Micos as it has a bunch of flat water, a long canyon section with boulders and standing waves and then more flat water down to the take out. It was another great day for Hunter’s paddling – he trailed Ben down the “easy” lines (still lots of pushy water and waves) and managed 2 combat rolls in the midst of the hardest section before ending up swimming after he got pushed into a rock. We were both so impressed with his bravery and choosing to roll vs panicking and swimming right off the bat.

Thursday was our last day of paddling and we were headed to the Upper Micos before starting the drive home. Unfortunately I was visited by Montezuma Wednesday night and spent the night and morning expelling all food that I had taken in, so chose to stay in bed vs paddle. The Upper Micos run starts with a long travertine slide and then moves into a series of drops before coming out at the farmers market where the lower Micos puts in. One neat feature is that you can go behind the Upper Micos falls and get a sense of the power of the falls!

tim & hunter upper micosBy travelling to a non-touristy area of Mexico (by American/Canadian standards) we had the added benefit of really getting to experience the local culture. At no point did we feel unsafe but it did really help to go with someone that spoke Spanish and knew this area inside and out.

This region is powered by the Sugar Cane industry and there were fields and trucks coming and going all day long. We cut some sugar cane directly from the field one day and it was neat to see how it is not nearly as sweet as refined sugar.

Hunter also had a great time hanging out with the local puppies…