On the hard trodden path of the backpacker, it is becoming increasing rare to discover the elusive prize that all of us seek: a hidden corner of paradise, untouched and authentic. While paradise may be a matter of personal preference, who could resist the charm of a rural Caribbean village nestled within impossibly green mountains, and crisscrossed by abundant streams and waterfalls? The wave of mass tourism to hit the Dominican Republic has, thankfully, bypassed such a place. The visitor who ventures off the beaten track of Santo Domingo-Puerto Plata-Samana etc, and heads instead for the town of Bonao, will receive just rewards for his curiosity. Bonao is the gateway to Los Quemados, a sleepy village nestled in the foothills of the Cordillera Central, a destination that remains a precious secret to those few who have enjoyed its allure. It boasts spectacular views of the lush mountain ridges as well as the clear freshwater River Yuma running through the settlement. One could spend many peaceful days here merely enjoying the natural beauty of the location and the warm hospitality of the Dominican campesinos. The adventurous will find endless diversion and pleasure from mountain activities such as horseback riding, trekking to waterfalls, and swimming in the countless babbling streams and waterholes. Anything is possible, from hiring a motorbike to explore the corkscrew roads, to setting up camp on a remote mountaintop. With the rainy season over, now is a wonderful time to explore the unique appeal of Los Quemados, Bonao.
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They Dance and Drink in the Streets for 1 month CARNAVAL BONAO!!!--The month of February is an especially festive time in the Dominican Republic—it's Carnaval time!—with music and dance celebrations throughout the month. Starting on the last Sunday of January and increasing in frequency and intensity as the 27th approaches, Carnaval is not only a pre-Lenten festival here, it's also a celebration of Dominican independence. The country’s most vibrant celebrations can be found in Bonao and La Vega. And at the end of August/early September, we celebrate the Merengue Festival across the island. There are also nationwide celebrations of Corpus Christi and Semana Santa (Easter Week), not to mention that each of the cities and towns has its own patron saint, who is honored with lively fiestas patronales. All of these fiestas incorporate song and dance along with other traditional rituals. And music and dance are as important to Dominicans as eating or breathing. There's always something to celebrate here in the Dominican Republic!
If that is the case it would be nice if you could write something about these festivities in this article and (more detailed) in Bonao and La Vega. DhDh 11:23, 25 Jan 2004 (EST)
A wise sage once remarked that it was better to travel than to arrive. This thought held me as I set off on a trek to a trio of man-made dams around Rio Blanco, a mountain village near Bonao,in the Dominican Republic for I had never felt the romance of dam-spotting.
The road up to Rio Blanco was full of weird and wonderful distractions, just as well because the grueling two-hour hike made my legs feel like they’d been fed through a rolling machine. Precious little traffic allows me to appreciate the hummingbirds busy at work in the morning shade, and to enjoy the dazzling surroundings.
A conveyor belt of local characters drift past me in all manner of guises and thrift store clothes. A little blonde albino girl cutting guavas with a machete. A pair of wild-eyed identical twins with barely a tooth between them. A skinny gentleman whose dangling pipe and candy striped jacket give him the strange air of an extra from a British seaside movie. It’s all very exhilarating until I’m stopped by a woman with short curly hair and a steady neurotic stare. We exchange a few pleasantries then she starts to play with me.
“I had a few problems with a boy once… I smashed him up with a stick….. do you think that’s bad?”
“Well…. I don’t really know the reasons why you did it..”
“So I could crush him up and drink him like fruit juice”
Terrified I bound on trying not to look like I’m running, hoping for some sign of human life around the corner.
For much of the time though it is head down and grit out the steeply zigzagging trail. Around every scenic corner in the road a new waterfall appears giving me refreshment and willpower to plough on. I collapse ungracefully upon finally reaching the center of Blanco, ready to be swept away by the broom of a local housemaid.
In true Dominican style, community life in and around Blanco unfolds out on the street. This gives the strange passing foreigner a rare privilege of seeing and joining in the timeless pastimes of the campo, such as the drying of coffee and cacao out on the doorstep.
The innate friendliness of the locals will soon shine through their initial surprise at seeing a stranger in this little visited area. It is enchanting to see little brown bodies splashing and laughing under roadside waterfalls. Or to receive a wave from beautifully preserved old man rocking away on the porch of his powder blue wooden shack.
The pastel colors of the houses and the vibrant wildflowers perfectly compliment the deep green backdrop. Indeed the landscape appears largely unaffected by the introduction of the dams fifteen years ago. An old timer, Heladio, accompanies me for the final stretch, and explains that before construction began, the road to from here to Bonao was a mere mule trail. A 77 year old farmer, he recalls how the French owned dams have brought more commerce to the region, as well as creating jobs for the local people.
The three dams turn out to be strikingly different in character. Of course it is impressive how such an ambitious project was undertaken in an area of such awkward accessibility. But what surprised me more was the physical beauty of the reservoirs. Standing atop Presa Arroyón and gazing into the emerald waters of the flooded valley, I felt that the view rivaled any of Mother Nature’s work in the Dominican Republic. To arrive here, though jaded and delirious after hours of strenuous walking, was just as rewarding as the journey.
I walked back with Heladio and told him how happy and surprised I was to find the dams to be so picturesque. Whether he thought I was crazy or not, his knowing smile put me at peace. In front of us a small boy was trying with difficulty to shepherd a pair of piglets. A scene of delightful rural serenity. “My great grandson”, murmured Heladio, beaming at the boy. It could easily have been him, seventy years previously, or a moment from countless generations before that. I hitched a ride with a choking truck back to Bonao, although it might as well have been a time machine taking me back into the twenty first century.
WHY FREEZE your BUTT OFF THIS WINTER.
Better check this out before the world finds out!
Most people think that Dominican Republic is for the rich and famous.
Well there wrong I found a hostel in the mountains of Bonao.
The town is nice, the rooms are clean, and WHY FREEZE my BUTT OFF THIS WINTER.
Hiking, biking, horseback riding, and exploring for caves.
The only problem is they don't have many guest yet. I’m planning on going back this winter,
I hope this post brings more people to go trekking, and biking with.
And what is best I can afford it.
I take it the anonymous contributor doesn't ski. -- Mark 12:29, 24 May 2004 (EDT)
Here you go, this seemed a little too much of a narrative, so I'm cutting most of it out. Perhaps someone wants to mine it for useful info:
Beware of the departure tax, it depends on the duration of your stay, read the doll coupon given to you at the arriving. Taxi from Airport to Santo Domingo (Ciudad Colonial): it is about $25/30 (maximum), but if you have time to discuss the prices, you can get it for $12-13 (maybe less). At the airport, you can change your $ and € in Dominican Pesos. But beware! You can not exchange back local money to $ and €, so do it before.
We were charged $10 for a tourist card on arrival into Punta Cana. The card was immediately confiscated by the immigration officials which I thought was strange. We did not have to pay a departure tax, although we did have to fill out another immigration form.
We were in DR in February 06, and WERE able to change back our Dominican pesos to $.
IF you go to the mountains and Jarabacoa, and venture to Salto de Jimenoa Numero Uno (a stunning 60 meter waterfall), be warned that the "through the forest" route, up from Numero Dos, is treacherous and dangerous. We made it, obviously, but it was a risky way to go, and accomplished only with the penalty of bangs and bruises. Considering the huge unprotected chasms alongside the narrow, slippery trail, it could have been MUCH worse!
Don't know how to add this entry under "sleep," but we traveled to the tiny fishing village of Las Galeras, on the Samana peninsula. Beautiful beaches (take a boat down at the beach to Playa Rincon, ten minutes away: isolated and gorgeous!)with a couple restaurants and several small, fairly inexpensive places to stay. We had a spacious "apartment" at La Isleta, and bought fish to cook from a fisherman. Our digs could work for a family or two couples, though the one double bed is up in a loft, with steep stairs.
By the way, get to Playa Rincon this year, if you can. There are already plans for an enormous resort at this stunning location.
Gua guas are the way to go. BE SURE the driver from Samana isn't actually a taxi and charging you taxi rates.
By the way, Victoria Marine (Kim Bedell is the marine biologist who started the Domincan whale-watching)is by far the fairest, most knowlegable way to see the humpback whales that breed and calve in Samana bay. Some of the others try for some not-so-honest arrangements.
The Dominicans are hospitable and warm, and we had a wonderful third world week, followed by the abrupt change to first world when we joined others at Club Med Punta Cana. (It's a perfect place for families with kids. Their circus was a complete surprize. Five of our gang tried the high trapeze, ages 7 to 44, and one of them is "hooked"!)
By all means plunge forward and improve the article. At the moment, what is there seems better than the nothing. There is nothing wrong with a narrative on wikitravel, per se. --Inas 16:24, 15 December 2008 (EST)
This might be my lack of experience with developing countries speaking, but found the road conditions in DR quite bad in places. The article mentions this to an extend, but i believe that something should be added about the motorcycle drivers, who are everywhere and consider lights optional (happens with cars to a smaller extend), which makes them extremely difficult to spot after the dusk. Any thoughts? —The preceding comment was added by Scharla (talk • contribs)
I don't think the Dominican Republic is much different from countries of similar development status, but a few sentences is probably appropriate - just don't go overboard or write in a way that the locals would find condescending as such edits tend to be reverted by future readers. -- Ryan • (talk) • 00:29, 21 January 2011 (EST)
I wouldn't say it's very different, but i feel the ubiquitous badly driven motorcycles with no lights are more of an issue, both in cities and outwith, then the crossing pedestrians mentioned. Ive added this text : 'Lack of head/taillights on cars and especially motorcycles is also not unusual and with motorcycles this makes them extremely hard to spot.' --Scharla 02:21, 21 January 2011 (EST)