Caribbean Close-Up: Canyon, Cave & Mountain 2008



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Caves of BUMBA

Rutgers The State University of New Jersey

Cascading in the Septentrional Mountain Range


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Leader Contacts at Lawrence Academy

Exploring in the El Choco National ParkTrip Highlights

  • See the Dominican Republic from Coast to Coast from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea!
  • Canyoning in Two Different Mountain Ranges!
  • Caving on the North & South Coast!
  • Waterfall Visits!
  • Exploring the Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve!
  • Unique Mountain Retreat Accommodations!
  • Camping in the Armando Bermudez National Park!Gallery View of Mount Isabel de Torres at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • Mule Trek-Hike to the Top of the Highest Peak in the Caribbean!
  • Exploring the Historical Colonial Zone!
  • All Meals Included!


Trip Descriptive Itinerary

Day 1: March 3, 2008 (Monday)

  • Cabin at Tubagua Plantation VillageArrival to Puerto Plata Airport (POP)
  • Airport Transfer to Tubagua Plantation Village (25 minutes)
  • Check-in & look around
  • What You Need to Know Now Orientation
  • Dinner at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • Accommodations: Tubagua Plantation Village

Day 2: March 4, 2008 (Tuesday)

  • Breakfast
  • Remote Tubagua WaterfallHike to Tubagua Waterfall
    Our first exploration into the Dominican countryside! Far from the tourist haunts of the North Coast hidden in the Septentrional Mountain range is a true gem: Tubagua Waterfall. Rarely visited, our hike allows us a very special opportunity to experience the Dominican back country in its purest form.
  • Lunch at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • Educational Hike in Tropical Plantation
    The Tropical Plantation biosphere allows us to witness some of the most spectacular flowers, trees, birds and fish that nature has to offer.
  • Dinner at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • Strange & Wonderful Flowers at Tropical PlantationAccommodations: Tubagua Plantation Village (rustic cabin)

Day 3: March 5, 2008 (Wednesday)

  • Breakfast at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • National Park El Choco Hike & The Caves of BUMBA
    Join us on a true walking-adventure into the past in discovery of the real Dominican Republic. Following red-earth paths walked by the Arawak Indians winding through small Dominican communities and tropical rain forest Getting Dirty in Caves of BUMBAwe hike up to our own hidden spot for a fresh fruit snack and an incredible view of the 8 kilometer long Cabarete lagoon. Enjoy authentic, locally grown Dominican coffee while learning about the 36 species of birds and 862 species of plants thriving around you. Formed as long as 25 million years ago in the Miocene Period, the ancient rock formations are unique to the North Coast of the DR and hold many secrets for us to explore. Subterranean rivers and caves abound throughout the park home to plants and animals that have become completely accustomed to life in the dark. Venture with us down into the mysterious Caves of BUMBA for a cool swim in truly pristine water and glimpses into prehistory. 12 of the 18 species of bats found in the DR are living within theMaking new friends! boundaries of the park, and, if we are lucky, we might catch a few sleeping!
  • Lunch at El Tigre
  • Afternoon on Cabarete Beach
  • Yásica River Exploration & Remote Beach Bonfire Dinner
    A short distance from the Laguna Cabarete & Goleta park office, on the banks of the Islabon River, Wilson Zapeta has a small ranch of wildlife in temporary captivity. Here we have the opportunity to see some of the Dominican Republic's more elusive wilderness creYasica River Remote Beach Bonfire Dinneratures, such as the Carey Turtle, Boa Serpent, Tarantula, Rhinoceros Iguana, North American Crocodile, Turkey Vulture, Sparrow Hawk, and Mongoose. From there you board a boat for a leisurely float down the Wilson River to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. Your dinner this evening is served on the beach, amongst the sand dunes and a roaring bonfire.
  • Accommodations: TVP (rustic cabin)

Day 4: March 6, 2008 (Thursday)

  • Breakfast at TVPFreefalling in Ciguapa Falls
  • Cascading in Ciguapa Falls, Septentrional Mountain Range
    Journey with us into the remote Río Blanco Canyon for an unforgettable day of cascading in the waterfalls believed to be home to the mythical Dominican Ciguapa.  Ciguapas are supernatural female creatures known to live high in the mountains of the Dominican Republic.  They have blue skin, knee-length hair worn about themselves and have feet turned backwards which makes them extremely difficult to follow; not that you would want to!  Ciguapas, though nocturnal and generally wary of humans, have enchanted backwoods trespassers into never leaving the canyon with their deep black eyes.  Fortunately for us jumps from 1 to 13-meters into fresh, pristine pools keep us pretty busy and the ciguapas have allowed us to share in the beauty of their jungle homes.  Includes: roundtrip transportation, snack, guides, helmet, wet suit Cabin View at Tubagua Plantation Villageand traditional Dominican stew lunch.

  • Late Lunch at Base camp
  • Dinner at Tubagua Plantation Village
  • Accommodations: Tubagua Plantation Village (rustic cabin)

Day 5: March 7, 2008 (Friday)

  • Breakfast at TVP
  • Transfer to Jarabacoa (2.5 hours)
  • Lunch at Rancho Baiguate
  • Canyoning in the Central Mountain Range
    Gearing Up for CanyoningThis is one trip that will forever change your perspective of a walk in the woods. Big rappels and big jumps in the Enchanted Forest. Our adventure ends with a rap down the towering and powerful Jimenoa Waterfall.

  • Dinner at Rancho Baiguate
  • Accommodations: Rancho Baiguate (bunkhouse)

Day 6: March 8, 2008 (Saturday)

  • Learning the Route to up to Pico DuarteBreakfast at Rancho Baiguate
  • Transfer to La Cienega de Manabao (1.5 hours)
  • Trek Los Tablones to La Cotorra (4Km, 1200M to 1750M):
    Following the Tablones River for .5 Km, the trail begins a rapid climb up some of the most eroded and technical parts of the trail. The surroundings give way to a new life-zone of vegetation featuring Lirio, Myrtle Laurel Cherry, Copey, Pasture Fiddlewood, West Indies Laurel Cherry, and Sierra Palm. Our resting place for a short break, La Cotorra, is aptly named for the Hispaniola Parrots that congregate in the area in the late afternoon.
  • Arriving to La Laguna in Armando Bermudez National ParkTrek La Cotorra to La Laguna (2 Km, 1720M to 2100M):
    Climbing away from the broad views of the La Cienega Valley, the trail follows the natural ridge-line. Once again, new flora greets us as West Indian Sumac, Palo de Viento, Wild Brazilleto, Krug Wild Avocado, and Tree Ferns decorate the thick forest surrounding us. A fresh-water spring is our reward at La Laguna.
  • Trek La Laguna to El Cruce (.5 Km, 2100M to 2200M):
    The trail climbs steeply to the intersection where the path to Pico Duarte and picturesque Valle Tetero separates. The northern slope is blanketed with green ferns.
  • Giving the feet a restTrek El Cruce to Valle de Teteros (7 Km, 2200M to 1560M:
    The gradual descent into the lush valle is a welcome respite from the climbing of the past couple of hours. Valle de Tetero is a pleasant mountain paradise of waterfalls, meadows exotic birds and indigenous art. We arrive with plenty of time to clean up and relax before our filling first dinner on the trail of Chambre, a vegetarian Dominican stew made over the campfire.
  • Lunch on the trail
  • Dinner in camp
  • Campfire at La ComparticionCamp: Valle de Teteros (lean-to/tent)

Day 7: March 9, 2008 (Sunday)

  • Breakfast in camp
  • Trek Valle de Teteros to El Cruce (7Km, 1560M to 2200M)
    Awakened by the brisk air and our guide, we arise before dawn for a nutritious breakfast of fresh fruits, cereal, hot oatmeal, juice, hot chocolate, and "campesino coffee" made on the open flame of the fogon before hitting the trail to retrace our steps back to El Cruce.
  • Los Tablones to Pico Duarte Route MapTrek El Cruce to Aguita Fria (5 Km, 2200M to 2600M):
    Climbing the natural ridge line, the vegetation makes its final Caribbean Alpine change before reaching the barren-rock top of Pico Duarte to Creolean Pine, Lyonia Heptamera, Myrica Picardae, and low-growing bushes, like Garrya Fadyenii, Satureja Alpestris, and Baccharis Myrsinites. Our resting place for a refueling snack at Aguita Fria is just beyond a wet bog. It is in this place that the headwaters of the two longest rivers in the DR, Yaque del Norte and Yaque del Sur, subtly bubble up from the ground.
  • On the trail between Aguita Fria and La ComparticionTrek Aguita Fria to La Compartición (3.5 Km, 2600M to 2350M):
    Dropping down the natural ridge line, pine forests welcome us to our cozy cabin in La Compartición. Excellent views of the mountain range are in all directions. A small cascade and pool offer a brisk shower, before a filling meal, a mug of hot chocolate and warm sleeping bag.
  • Lunch on the trail
  • Dinner in camp
  • The Roof of the Caribbean!Camp: La Comparticion (lean-to/tent)

Day 8: March 10, 2008 (Monday)

  • Breakfast in Camp
  • Trek La Compartición to Pico Duarte (4 Km, 2350M to 3087M):
    Beginning with a steady climb hours before dawn, we follow a switchback trail through pine forests along the wide ridge line to an open meadow at Just before dawn on Pico DuarteVallecito de Lilis. We can catch a breath enjoying the view of La Pelona, the second highest peak in the Caribbean at 3070M, before beginning the final push to the summit. Sparse pine forests give way to rock and boulders at the peak with origins dating back 60 million years to the Cretaceous period. On a clear morning, with the sun rising over our path back down the mountain, there is truly no doubt that we are on the Roof of the Caribbean! We'll head back down to La Compartición for breakfast.
  • Trek La Compartición to La Cienega de Manabao [20 Km, 2350M to 1000M]:
    More great views on the trail between La Comparticion and Aguita FriaGiven reasonable weather and a good pace, we should be back at the National Park Headquarters in La Cienega de Manabao by 4:00 p.m. for a celebratory swim in the brisk waters of the Tablon River.
  • Lunch on the trail
  • Transfer to Jarabacoa (1.5 hours)
  • Dinner at Rancho Baiguate
  • Accommodations: Rancho Baiguate (bunkhouse)

Day 9: March 11, 2008 (Tuesday)

  • Unpacking and cleaning up after Pico Duarte! Breakfast at Rancho Baiguate
  • Debrief, Unpack, Repack & Take a Hot Shower!
  • Lunch at Rancho Baiguate
  • Transfer to Santo Domingo (2.5 hours)
  • Check-in to hotel
  • Dinner at Meson de Luís
  • Accommodations: Hotel Europa (3-star)

Pomier Caves Anthropological ReserveDay 10: March 12, 2008 (Wednesday)

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Cuevas de Pomiér Anthropological Reserve which is located about an hour's drive west of Santo Domingo on the outskirts of San Cristobal is the only region in the country specifically designated for the protection of a subterranean ecosystem and it is the single most important pre-Columbian site in the Caribbean. With more than 6000 recorded pictographs and around 500 petroglyphs Cueva del Corral en Pomier Anthropological Reservepertaining to several distinct indigenous populations, the Cuevas de Pomier are, in anthropological importance, for the Caribbean what the Pyramids of Giza are for Egypt and the Altamira and Lascaux Caves are for Europe. Cave Number One has 590 pictographs; more than are found in all other locations in the Minor Antilles put together. We spend the afternoon exploring this cave which provides insights into the Pre-Columbian origins of humans in the Caribbean with Dominican environmental activist, journalist and Espeleogrupo Santo Domingo President, Domingo Abreu.
  • Lunch at Doña Ana’s
  • Visit to Mercado Modelo. After lunch we will take a short walk to the Mercado Modelo on the northern end of the Zona Colonial. This public market is similar to a Mercado Modelo in Santo Domingominiature Bazaar, Caribbean-style, full of Dominican and Haitian handicrafts, paintings, music, instruments, and fruits and vegetables. At one of the botánicos, religious and spiritual supply shops, we can also pick up a good luck perfume or a potion to ward off the menacing spirit of your neighbor's great grandmother!
  • Farewell Dinner at Dajao
  • Accommodations: Hotel Europa (3-star)

Guardian of the Bus!Day 11: March 13, 2008 (Thursday)

  • Breakfast
  • Airport transfer
  • Departure from Santo Domingo Airport (SDQ)




Tubagua Plantation VillageTubagua Plantation Village
Tubagua, North Coast

Perched on the Northern Slope of the Septentrional Mountain Range only 20 minutes from Puerto Plata International Airport, Tubagua Plantation Village has unparalleled views of the North Coast, Atlantic Ocean, Mount Isabel de Torres and the sugar cane fields of Montellano. Tubagua Plantation Village is not an isolated retreat, but a part of the quiet, mountain community offering rustic cabins comfortably accommodating 6 to 12 persons. In addition to the views and tranquility, guests enjoy sunset pool, communal area with kitchenette, traditional Dominican barbeque and authentic, home cooked Dominican meals.


Rancho Baiguate, JarabacoaRancho Baiguate
Jarabacoa, Central Mountain Range

Rancho Baiguate is located in valley of Jarabacoa, which stands at 500 meters above sea level in the Central Mountains, known as the land of eternal spring. Cool temperatures, the longest river of the Caribbean (Yaque del Norte), impressive waterfalls and the highest peak in the Antilles (Pico Duarte 3,087 meters) form a unique combination to the entire hemisphere. Baiguate's standard rooms featuring two queen-size beds will be our homes for the night. The Rancho also has a large swimming pool, gift shop, Dominican art gallery, buffet restaurant, bar and an amazing array of recreational fields, equipment and opportunities.


Cabin at Los TablonesArmando Bermudez National Park
Central Mountain Range

Cabin camping in the Armando Bermudez National Park is our first choice.

In the event that space is not available in the national park cabins, this trip is equipped with 6 and 4-person tents.

Antiguo Hotel Europa

Antiguo Hotel Europa
Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo

Accommodations offer a selection of 52 guest rooms, most with balconies, designed to offer every comfort for tourists and business travelers. Our hotel has been meticulously restored to most of its original colonial period. All rooms feature private bathrooms, air conditioning, in room safety deposit box, cable tv, and telephone with Internet. Based on double occupancy with two persons sharing a full-size bed.


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Most photos credited to "Open Shirt' Mike Gussak at