Dominican Republic Safari Article
In the Outback – Dominican Republic Safari
Dominican Republic safari article written by Travel Writer Solange Hando
‘Today, you’ll discover the real country’ said the guide and we did, minutes after leaving the resort as a tropical downpour swept in through the open-sided truck, drenching everyone before the plastic sheet was unrolled. Welcome to the Dominican Republic… and a fun Dominican Republic safari.
But on this December day, the rain was warm and it didn’t last long, just enough to draw a luminous rainbow over the Eastern Mountains which promised a taste of adventure, within easy distance of Punta Cana but a world away.
The ride started smoothly enough, give or take a speed bump or two, past lush meadows speckled with brown cattle and the odd cowboy riding through the vast empty landscape. Now and then, a village hugged the roadside with wooden bungalows painted like icing on a cake under thatch or tin roofs. Here, an elder dozed on a rickety veranda, there a boy rode a donkey home, and chickens pecked in dusty courtyards where cool communal shelters lay idle until siesta time or the next game of dominoes.
At the ‘Rural School of the Deep Lake’, we were greeted by blue uniforms and white ribbons in plaited hair, exchanging smiles for photos and ordering an Outback T-shirt or a hat to sponsor dental visits and the occasional party. In the garden, I played host to myriad butterflies which mistook my pink top for a flowering bush.
Dominican Republic safari fun
Soon the hills drew closer, red earth and trees climbing towards a perfect blue sky, barely 400 metres high in these parts but a welcome change from the flat monotonous lands along the coastal strip.
That’s when the fun began, swapping the tarmac for a steep narrow track winding its way through coffee and cocoa plantations. Right, left, up and down, we bounced like puppets out of control, even though seat belts had been fastened right at the start, when the 11 company rules were read to a captive if somewhat bemused audience. We dodged overhanging branches, held onto cameras and bags and rescued water bottles rolling under the seats. I nearly said good-by to my hat.
‘Now, wasn’t that fun?’ beamed the guide as we pulled up at last, high up on the slopes, outside a beautifully thatched hacienda. Well, there were a few bruises around but we nodded approvingly. After all, we had signed up for adventure.
Lunch was traditional, black beans and rice, barbecued chicken, fried plantain and watermelon, served by pretty girls draped in national colours, red, white and blue. But best of all were the views, the Atlantic to the east, lost in the haze, and all around, the lush green hills where lonely palms rose like giants from another age. Then there was the wild life, flamingos and iguanas, a couple of saltwater crocodiles and for the brave, the chance to handle a boa constrictor or come face to face with a fully-grown tarantula. Up in the trees the green parrot looked on, unimpressed.
I preferred to watch the young man carving petrified wood into moon-shaped ornaments and learn about the two kinds of organic coffee and cocoa (21 kinds), genuine cigars, coconut oil to repel mosquitoes and spices, cinnamon, paprika, vanilla and more. There was a chance to taste and buy, including pineapple rum and the mysterious Mama Juana, a concoction of herbs and bark diluted in sweet red wine and claiming healing and energy-boosting properties. ‘Just a teaspoon a day’, we were told, and judging by the guide’s unflinching high spirits, I’m sure it worked.
A Dominican Republic safari treat
Perhaps that’s why we hardly noticed the bumps on the way down, or was it the call of the ocean for a final treat? One look at the breakers in Macao and I traded boogie boarding for toe-dipping. The water was soothing and warm but when my back was turned, I managed to get soaked in true Dominican style for the second time.
About the author:
Solange Hando is a freelance travel journalist and photographer with a keen interest in Asia and in-depth knowledge of Nepal and Bhutan. Solange writes for publications worldwide, contributes to National Geographic books and gained a number of awards, including ‘Best St Lucia Travel Writer’.
Images on this Dominican Republic Safari Article page are copyright of www.linda-jackson.co.uk, Solange Hando