/ Oviedo / Pedernales / Descubierta / Jimani / Bani / Azua
A few words:
Southwest of the Dominican Republic is truly unique. Having evolved as
a completely separate island up until about 9 million years ago, it is
the exclusive home to some pretty spectacular species of flora and fauna.
The region, encompassing an enormous area, is so varied that it is difficult
to speak about it in its entirety, so we will default to some of its national
protected areas. It can be generalized, however, that the Southwest does
not have a much of a tourism infrastructure, and this is exactly why you
The Jaragua National Park, located in the southwestern section of the
country, is Dominican Republic's largest protected area, with 560 square
miles. The park's name originated from the now-extinct Taino Indians that
populated the area at the time of Columbus' arrival.
The park includes the Oviedo lagoon and the islands of Beata and Alto
Velo. There is little rainfall in the area and the park has a desert like
climate. Covered with a dry, thorn-forest there is a high population of
species out of the 130 species of birds are known to exist in the Jaragua
National Park, half of which live in an aquatic environment. The most
common birds are the flamingos (largest population in the country), Great
Egret, Little Blue Heron, Little Green Heron, Sooty Tern, Roseate Spoonbill
and the White-crowned Pigeon. Other interesting species that live in the
park include the ricord and rhinoceros iguanas, four types of marine turtles
and 11 species of bats. The sea turtles climb up the park's beaches to
lay their eggs.
de Oviedo National Reserve (within the Jaragua National Park)
The Laguna de Oviedo is one of the most important in the insular Caribbean
due to its size (824 square miles of protected area), location, and natural
protection for flora and fauna. Perhaps of most interest is the Cyprinodon
nicholsi, a fish, to date, found only only in this lagoon. The largest
population of flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) in the DR is also found
here among the many bird species residing and migrating in the lagoon.
The dunes between the banks of the lagoon and those of the Caribbean Sea
to the south are one of the few remaining sites in the Dominican Republic
where the carey turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), among other species,
arrive annually to lay their eggs.
Cabritos (Lago Enriquillo) National Park
The Isle Cabritos National Park (Little Goats Island) is the largest of
three islands found in the center of Lake Enriquillo, (a large salt-water
lake 144 feet below sea level, which marks the lowest point in the Caribbean).
Situated in the southeastern part of the country (approximately 232 kilo
from Santo Domingo), between Sierra de Neyba and Sierra de Bahoruco, the
island is 12 kilometers long and 2.5 wide.
island, which was declared a national park in 1974, is flat with no traces
of reefs. Marine deposits make up the soil, which consists mainly of limestone,
seashells and coral. The park has numerous species of reptiles including
the endangered rhinoceros and ricord iguanas and one of the largest wildlife
American crocodile populations in the world. These reptiles can be seen
from the lake's shores or on the boat to the island. A variety of waterfowl
also inhabit the area. There are 62 species of birds include the flamingo,
burrowing owl, Hispaniolan parrot and West Indian nighthawk.
Enriquillo is part of an ancient canal separating the southwest of the
Dominican Republic and southern part of Haiti from the mainland of the
island of Hispaniola. This region between the Sierra de Neyba and Sierra
de Barohuco is a tectonic depression 40 below sea level, and is the largest
and saltiest (3 times that of the Atlantic Ocean) of the Antilles.
de Bahoruco National Park
Situated in the southwest near the Haitian border, Sierra de Bahoruco
National Park is 320 square miles and has 49 bird and 166 orchid species.
This national park is an example of climatic stability in the arid southwestern
portion of Hispaniola. Vegetation here ranges from the dry forest at sea
level to the wet forest in the central part of the park.
Birds include the common bobwhite, stolid flycatcher, Hispaniolan lizard
cuckoo and the white-necked crow, which is extinct in Puerto Rico.
Rincon National Reserve
Also called the de Cabral Scientific Reserve, the lagoon area is located
at the eastern end of the Neiba Valley, in the dry southwestern part of
the country. It's the second-largest lagoon in the Dominican Republic
with the largest spot of fresh water in inland Dominican. Here you'll
find the largest population of endemic freshwater turtles (Chrysemys decorata)
called sliders. Thousands of migratory birds from North America touch
down here, and many kinds of shallow-water wading birds make the lagoon
their home. The life zone of the reserve is classified as subtropical
dry forest, and is called "home" by reptiles like the rhinocerous
iguana (Cyclura cornuta); lizards Anolis spp., Ameiva spp. and others;
snakes (Epicrates spp., Uromacer catesbyi y others); as well as amphibions,
like Bufo marinus, Pelthophryne guntheri, Eleutherodactylus pictissimus
apantheatus and Osteopilus dominicensis.
de Neyba National Park
The Sierra de Neyba National Park, created by presidential decree in 1995,
is characterized by an extensive chain of mountains reaching up to 2,176
meters, and divided by a deep valleys, terraces, and depressions with
challenging accessibility. Geological formation is principally limestone
resulting in few superficial rivers due to the rapid rate of filtration.
Climactic zones range from cloud forest, humiforest, semi-humiforest (possibly
guarding the country's largest quantity of Mahogany-Swietenia mahagoni,
dry forest (26%), pine forest (1%).
includes 11 country endemic species of amphibians (2 endemic to the region-frogs:
Eleutherodactylus notitode y E. parabates), 39 species of reptiles (98%
endemic), and 85 species of birds (17 endemic to the island). Mammals
of greatest interest are the jutia (Plagiodontia aedium) and solenadon
(Solenodon paradoxus), the latter possibly extinct.
Martin Garcia National Park
Located in the Azua and Barahona provinces, the Sierra Martin Garcia National
Park begins in the Bahia de Neyba and covers approximately 190 square
miles reaching elevations of 1,343 meters. Flora is delianted in 4 life
zones: subtropical mountain forest, subtropical dry forest, subtropical
humiforest, and low mountain subtropical humiforest. The four types of
mangrove forests found in the DR are all found within the park: red mangrove
(Rhizophora mangle), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans), white mangrove
(Laguncularia racemosa) and button mangrove (Conocarpus erecta). A wide
variety of cacti are also found here including Consolea moniliformis,
Lemaireocereus hystrix, and Neoabbottia paniculata. 67 species of birds
are found with in the park, 14 migratory and the rest native, including
11 endemic species. 25 species of reptiles, 6 amphibians, an interesting
specie of blind snake, Typhlops sulcata, and the Dominican boas Epicrates
fordi, E. gracilis y E. stucatus) reside within the boundaries of the
of the Caribbean's ancient history is preserved in untouched condition
along the Barreras creek within the park. An abundance of perfect plant
fossils can be found that have yet to be studied. Nearby, the ancient
"Paleo-indo de Barreras" is the site of the regions oldest indigenous
settlement dating 2,590 B.C.
Americas International Airport (SDQ), Santo Domingo
Activites, By Land & Mountain:
Activities, By Sea & River: