- See the historic architecture on a guided city tour of Santo Domingo
- Travel to Barahona and enjoy this unspoiled region's secluded beaches
- Hike through mountainous national parks and visit a waterfall cave
- Spot exotic animals in the ecosystems around Lagune Enriquillo
|Day 1||Arrive in Santo Domingo, Guided City Tour||Santo Domingo|
|Day 2||Santo Domingo to Barahona||Barahona|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Jaragua National Park||Barahona|
|Day 4||Hike to Cueva de la Virgen, Optional Activities||Barahona|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Cachote||Barahona|
|Day 6||Hike to Lake Enriquillo||Barahona|
|Day 7||Hike in La Sierra de Bahoruco, Transfer to Santo Domingo & Depart||Barahona|
Day 1: Arrive in Santo Domingo, Guided City Tour
Welcome to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic! Not only is this one of the Caribbean's most impressive capitals, but it's also the site of the very first European settlement anywhere in the Americas. Upon arrival at the airport, a private car will be waiting to take you to your hotel.
After unpacking and unwinding, head out for a guided tour of the city. Sightseeing with a local expert is the best way to experience Santo Domingo, founded in 1496. As the oldest city in the Caribbean, its Zona Colonial (colonial center) is packed with historic architecture. Your guide will highlight the most impressive landmarks, such as the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. Built in 1514, this is the first church in the Americas, as well as the oldest.
Other highlights include the Alcázar de Colón (the first Spanish palace in the Americas), Fortaleza Ozama (the oldest military fort in the Americas), and the remains of the Northern Walls, the defensive structures that once protected the city from attacks on both land and sea. You'll also stop at the 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco and the ruins of Hospital San Nicolás de Bari, among other places of interest.
Day 2: Santo Domingo to BarahonaIn the morning, your driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour drive west to the city of Barahona. After checking in to your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day to head out and explore. This coastal region is one of the real gems of the southwestern Dominican Republic.
Day 3: Day Trip to Jaragua National ParkAfter breakfast, you'll embark on a 5-hour guided tour of Jaragua National Park. This 500-sq-mile (1,295 sq mile) reserve is a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts. Located on the country's southern tip, it encompasses a wide array of ecosystems that include offshore islands, inland forests, lagoons, caverns, and an unspoiled virgin coastline. After all, this area is part of the first-ever Unesco Biosphere Reserve in the Dominican Republic.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
However, before arriving at the park, you'll kick off the adventure with a stop at the charming fishing village of Las Cuevas. This town is unique as many of its residents have settled in the surrounding caves and still live here to this day. Next, you'll take a boat into the park and to Eagle's Bay, where you'll discover a paradise of white sands and crystalline waters. For lunch, enjoy a delicious Caribbean meal right on the beach.
Day 4: Hike to Cueva de la Virgen, Optional ActivitiesA real adventure is in store today, one in which you'll travel inland up to the base of the Bahoruco Mountain Range and the most romantic cave lagoon in the country, Cueva de la Virgen. This is a three-hour excursion into the mountains, but you won't be arriving on foot. Instead, you'll hop on a quad and drive into the hills with your local guide.
The adventure begins with a drive down the coast from Barahona a couple of miles to the Casa Bonita tropical lodge. From there, you and your guide will grab your helmets and quads, then embark on a 2.5-mile (4-km) ride up to the natural pool of Los Morones. Here you'll take a break for a refreshing swim, then continue another 1.8 miles (3 km) to the trailhead leading to the cave.
Because the tour of Cueva de la Virgen only takes about three hours, you'll have the remainder of the day free to enjoy some optional activities. Perhaps visit Laguna de Oviedo. Surrounded by mangroves and palm groves, it's one of the best sites in the country for spotting aquatic birds like flamingos. Getting to the lagoon involves a hike through one of the best-preserved coastal forests in the Caribbean.
Day 5: Day Trip to CachoteToday, you'll head out at 8 am for a five-hour day trip inland to the cloud forests of Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. The destination is Cachote, a protected area in the forest home to a tiny, remote community. The villagers live simply in the mountains 3,600 feet (1,097 m) above sea level.
Day 6: Hike to Lake EnriquilloIn the morning, you'll head back into the unspoiled wilderness of the Dominican's southwestern region. Today's destination is Lake Enriquillo, located between the Bahoruco and Neyba mountain ranges. This body of water is noteworthy for a couple of reasons: at 135 sq miles (350 sq km), it is the largest lake in the Caribbean; and it's also the only such lake in the region sitting at 140 feet (43 m) below sea level.
The route is so-named for the cacao trees in this area, the fruit of which produces delicious cocoa. You'll get to sample fresh cacao fruit right off the trees on the hike. In doing so, you'll discover the unique taste of the seeds, which are both sweet and bitter at the same time.
Day 7: Hike in La Sierra de Bahoruco, Transfer to Santo Domingo & DepartToday you'll enjoy one last hike in Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. In the morning, your guide will pick you up at your hotel for an excursion that lasts three hours. On the hike, be sure to snap photos of the unique flora, including tall pines and over half of the country's 32 endemic species of orchids.
You can also see 49 different bird species in this area, 19 of which are endemic. These include rare birds like the Hispaniolan emerald, golden swallow, and various species of warblers. In addition, lots of reptiles, like snakes and lizards, call this area home, as do mammals such as the shrew-like solenodon.
Your guide will take you back to your hotel at the end of the hike. At the appropriate time, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to the airport in Santo Domingo, where you'll catch your flight home. Come back soon!