El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque National Forest, formerly the Caribbean National Forest, is located in northeastern Puerto Rico and is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System.  El Yunque National Rainforest is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains, with the highest mountain peak in the forest rising 3,537 ft above sea level. There is no distinct wet or dry season in the El Yunque; it rains year round.   Ample rainfall (over 200 inches a year in some areas) creates a jungle-like setting – lush foliage, waterfalls and rivers are a prevalent scene.

The day we planned our trip to El Yunque, as luck would have it, it was raining throughout much of Puerto Rico.  We left a soggy San Juan, hoping we would catch a break from the rain once we reached El Yunque.  That thinking turned out to be terribly misguided; when we reached El Yunque, it was obvious it had been raining incessantly and the deluge continued for most of our visit.  But somehow, IT JUST SEEMED RIGHT to visit a rainforest in the rain!   Our intended goal was to visit a few of the waterfalls close to the park road while soaking in (yeah pun intended) all the surrounding beauty.

Photography in this wet n wild, breezy weather was definitely a challenge!   When we reached La Coca Falls, there was so much water pouring down the falls that it was nearly impossible to get close without soaking the camera in mist and instantly covering the lens with water droplets.  The dimly lit forest against the blinding white mass of surging water  in the falls made for very difficult contrast conditions, which the camera sensor was clearly struggling to adequately capture.   I could tell the larger LaCoca falls would not be my prize photo for this day!  Not much further up the park road, I spotted a much more serene waterfall set amonst lush green foilage and bespeckled with pink flowering blooms.  I was also intrigued with the way the waters enveloped a series of jungle covered boulders and pooled up on top of a large flat stone, creating a lip for the waters to plunge over onto the next set of rocks.   After experimenting with different timed exposures and ISO settings, I finally walked away with a very satisfying image to punctuate this adventure.