Africa, Australia, and India aren’t the only places where you can take advantage of outback adventures. Add the Dominican Republic to your list of safari destinations. Okay, so you’re not going to see the Big 5 or venture into the Aboriginal bush during your journey through the Dominican outback, but what you are going to experience is a taste of the real Dominican Republic beyond the beaches and resort towns.
During our stay in Sosua a few years back, we took a full day tour of the Dominican Republic’s north coast with Outback Safari, a tour operator that also offers tours of the country’s east coast. We were picked up from our boutique hotel early in the morning in a conspicuous safari truck and we set off for a day of exploration!
Along the way, our guide Angel enlightened us with some facts about the history of the Dominican Republic – a country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti which is located on the western third of the island. The Dominican Republic is the second largest country in the Caribbean both in area and population. Before Columbus set foot in the Dominican Republic in 1492, the native Taíno people had been living there since the 7th century. But Columbus claimed the country for Spain, making it the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, and Santo Domingo became Spain’s first capital in the New World. The Spanish ruled the country for 300 years intermixed with periods of French and Haitian rule. Angel explained that all of these changes of political power contributed to the ethnic makeup of Dominicans – many of whom have indigenous, African, Spanish, and French blood.
As we made our way into the outback, Angel pointed out different plants and trees and their medicinal and culinary purposes.
We soon made our way to a typical Dominican home, not unlike many houses in much of the rural Caribbean, including those found in Jave’s community in Jamaica.
While most of the homes are made from royal palm wood and have tin roofs, they have all of the amenities that a family would need to live in the Dominican countryside.
Although there’s an indoor kitchen in the home we visited, unless it’s raining, it’s rarely used because like many Dominicans, the residents prefer to cook using wood in the outdoor kitchen. While cooking indoors, they have to use propane which creates a lot of smoke in the kitchen.
When we went out to the outdoor kitchen, we met a Dominican abuelita who was brewing the most phenomenal coffee we’ve ever tasted. Dominican coffee is made from organic cocoa fruits and the freshness of the coffee really permeates the hints of cinnamon and spices that are used to enhance the flavor.
As we walked back to our safari ride, we saw a young Dominican boy riding his horse – not uncommon in the Dominican countryside.
Soon, we made our way to a facility where we ate lunch before embarking on our boat ride through a marshy area. Before getting on the boat, we saw these guys…
Along the banks of the swamp, we saw a few guys showing off some of their creepy, crawly friends. There was even a spider man who was covered in tarantulas as big as my hand. Of course, Jave just had to get a picture which I refuse to include in this post because I literally yelp every time I scroll past any of them in my photo gallery. Our guide informed us that tarantulas eat geckos. Dear God! I’m freaked out by ordinary house spiders, so imagine finding a tarantula on your bedroom ceiling! Anyway, I digress…
Once back on our truck, as we made our way past more homes en route to our next destination, some local children came running from their yards behind the truck. Angel had candy to give away, and the kids knew it. I swear that one little girl ran after the truck at top speed for about a quarter of a mile to get her sweet treat. So precious!
Before heading to our final stop at the beach where some in our group boogie boarded, we stopped at Rio Yasica where we saw some local boys wading in the water. The river and the surrounding area are so lush, so green, and so beautiful.
I’m so glad that we took the outback tour because although it may seem like a “touristy” thing to do, it gave us the chance to venture into a side of the Dominican Republic that we may not have otherwise seen.
If ever in the Dominican Republic, be sure to book an Outback Safari adventure.