Operators provide Puerto Vallarta adventures

PUERTO VALLARTA -- For visitors in search of an active vacation beyond the beach, Puerto Vallarta offers the chance to climb mountains, take in a bird's-eye view of the rain forest with a canopy tour or interact with one of the last remaining indigenous cultures in the world.

The following tour operators offer 10% commissionable adventure tours, many of which combine activities such as hiking and biking with cultural pursuits. All tours include equipment and lessons if required.

• Vallarta Adventures is marketing a new rain forest canopy tour, a historical tour of the mountain village of San Sebastian and an excursion to the remote township of San Andres Coamihata, home to the Huichol Indians.

The historical plan, one of the firm's newest tours, takes clients to San Sebastian, a once prosperous, 1700s silver mining town situated some 4,300 feet above the Sierra Madre mountains.

The excursion, priced at $125 per person, starts with a 15-minute flight from Puerto Vallarta in a 14-passenger plane (it would take two days by car to reach the town on the one road available).

San Sebastian has been described as a "living museum," an excellent example of how people used to live and work in a remote Mexican mountain town.

Clients will meet with a local family in their home and watch them grind coffee beans and make tortillas. The tour includes an authentic Mexican meal at a 150-year-old hacienda.

Vallarta Adventures rolled out a Tree Top Canopy Tour similar to those offered in Costa Rica. Clients "swing" from one tree platform to another wearing harnesses hanging from pulleys supported on horizontal traverse cables.

The tour, which costs $65 per person, includes a rain forest history lesson from expert guides.

The third program whisks clients approximately one hour by plane from Puerto Vallarta to the remote town of San Andres Coamihata, home to the Huichol Indians. The Huichol are believed to be direct descendants of the Aztecs and are one of the last remaining indigenous cultures in the world.

Clients will interact with the Huichol and learn about their traditions, costumes and language. This tour costs $225 per person. Departures are scheduled for Fridays.

For reservations or information about these or other Vallarta Adventures tours, visit www.vallarta-adventures.com or call (011) 52-322 221-0657.

• Mountain Bike Adventures, which has been offering bike tours for more than 20 years, offers a number of itineraries in Puerto Vallarta for bikers of every ability.

Mountain Bike Adventures' Rio Tour follows the path of the River Cuale, above, through Puerto Vallarta's cobblestone streets to the outskirts of town Bikers of every level can sign up for the Rio Tour, which follows the River Cuale through Puerto Vallarta's cobblestone streets and stretches to the outskirts of town.

A dirt trail winds its way through small villages, with plenty of stops along the way to sample local markets. The $44 tour includes a stop at a waterfall for lunch and a swim.

Advanced cyclists can sign up for the $60 Killer Donkey Tour. As its name implies, this five-hour plan takes cyclists 2,000 feet up the Sierra Madre Mountains with a choice of three routes depending on weather conditions.

For more information or reservations, visit www.bikemex.com or call (011) 52-322 316-80.

• If your clients are avid hikers, Open-Air Expeditions offers an Advanced Jungle Hike program. The uphill journey ventures up the Sierra Madre Mountains. Clients are led by expert guides who provide commentary on the flora and fauna along the route.

The excursion, which costs $60 per person, includes a picnic and a swim in a waterfall. The company also offers less strenuous hikes for novice hikers that run alongside a river.

All tours include lunch with refreshments and transportation. For reservations or information, e-mail Open-Air Expeditions at [email protected] or call (011) 52-322 10657.

For general information about Puerto Vallarta, call (888) 384-6822 or visit www.puertovallarta.net.

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