Article repost from The Telegraph
by Fred Mawer
The Caribbean’s second largest country offers mountain treks and white-water adventures – and some slightly gentler outdoor activities as well
Happy holidays in the Dominican Republic can be all about flopping around by the pool or on the beach. But do that every day of your trip and you’ll be missing out.
The country, which is the second largest in the Caribbean and more than twice the size of Wales, has lofty mountains and dense forests to explore, along with towering waterfalls to discover and frothing rivers to navigate. But as well as thrills and spills for the adventurous, there are also rewarding, gentler activities.
1 Trek up the Caribbean’s highest peak
At 3,087m (10,128ft) high, Pico Duarte is the only Caribbean mountain whose summit exceeds 3,000m. Guided ascents through alpine grasslands and tropical and pine forests take two or three days and are demanding, although mules accompany parties to carry luggage and supplies. Your reward is an unforgettable sunrise from the very top of this part of the world.
2 Sign up for a white-water adventure
Operators in the mountain resort of Jarabacoa arrange escorted rafting trips on the Rio Yaque del Norte, the longest river in the country. As you pass through canyons and along verdant riverbanks, you come to stretches of heart-pumping (but not too scary) rapids, interspersed with winding curves of calmer waters for relaxing drifting. Minimum age for the trips is 14.
3 Hike to a waterfall
Near Jarabacoa there are dramatic waterfalls. Salto de Baiguate, 20 minutes from town and tucked below a deep canyon, is popular with locals. Here, the water cascades from a height of 25m (82ft) into a jade-coloured pool. At Salto de Jimenoa Dos you can swim in the lower portions of the Jimenoa river along its shallow banks, but the depths and currents make the main waterfall area’s pools too dangerous. Swimming is possible in the pool beneath the second, smaller waterfall known as Salto de Jimenoa Uno, near Constanza.
4 Descend a set of falls
For fun-filled adrenalin rushes, look no further than 27 Charcos de Damajagua, not far from Puerto Plata. Reassuringly kitted with helmets and life jackets, after hiking up the jungly hillside you get to swim, slide and jump down a series of natural waterslides, chutes and azure pools, With time and energy, you can make your way down all 27 falls, but you can also opt to tackle just the lower ones.
5 Pedal through the countryside
Touring the back lanes and off-road tracks of the Dominican Republic on mountain bikes is a great way to really immerse yourself in the country’s lush scenery. You can set off up in the mountains or near the coastal resorts, so levels of fitness required vary. Immersive, guided excursions on electric-powered bikes from Punta Cana in the flattish far east pass through coffee-growing plantations and cattle farms.
6 Get in the saddle
Getting around by trusty steed is still very much part and parcel of rural life across the Dominican Republic, and wherever you’re based there will be an outfit nearby where you can go horse riding. The luxury resort of Casa de Campo has one of the Caribbean’s top equestrian centres, and offers trail rides through cattle ranches and sugar-cane fields.
7 Play Tarzan over the rainforest canopy
Whizzing on ziplines high over tropical treetops is all the rage across the Caribbean, and nowhere more so than in the Dominican Republic. If you’re travelling with children, the experience is fantastic for family bonding. On the dozen lines of the thrilling Samaná Zipline course you’ll fly like a bird 350ft up in the air, and can reach speeds of 40mph.
8 Go on a Dominican-style safari
A great way to understand why the Dominican Republic is known as the breadbasket of the Caribbean, to get an insight into how many Dominicans live and just how welcoming they are, is to join an inland safari. Your open-air, all-terrain monster truck might visit a cocoa plantation and drop in on a local colmado, a general store that is also often a social gathering point.
As geographically diverse as it is lively, the Dominican Republic mixes rainforests, mountains, colonial architecture and beaches, meaning there is something to please everyone from avid adventurers to history lovers. From exploring the first seat of Spain’s colonial empire in the New World, Santo Domingo, to diving around coral reefs, caves, shipwrecks, we lift the lid on the best ways to explore this Caribbean nation.
Find out more at ba.com/dominicanrepublic