While we were away on our trip, we decided that the majority of our vacation was going to be spent relaxing, lying on the beach, reading books and sipping piña coladas, however we did decide that we would do one excursion. We signed up to go on an “Outback Safari Tour” thar involved taking an open air shuttle bus into the countryside which included a tour of the waterfalls.
We brought along a disposable underwater camera and tried to capture our journey, however most of the photos turned out pretty dark, as the day we went was very rainy. But I still want to show you them so you can get an idea of our tour.
We were picked up at our hotel in the morning then headed to three other resorts along the way to pick up other couples who had signed up for the tour. On our bus were two gals from Canada, a couple from Russia, a couple from Germany, Dana and I (U.S. of course), and our tour guide who is a Dominican native. We had quite the diverse group which was wonderful!
Our first stop was at an area where men were working, making beautiful figurines which they carve out of native woods and stones. I was fascinated by these men and their carving skills. The first stage of the carving process involves shaping the material with a machete. I was really hoping that no fingers would be spared as they got so close each time they made a cut. I am such a worrier. I know they are very skilled with their tools. After the machete phase, the next guy works with a small knife to do the intricate carving, the third works on sanding the edges, the fourth uses water and sand paper to smooth it out, and sometimes a fifth man will paint or stain the figurine. Talk about manual labor. One figurine usually takes about three days to complete.
This photo turned out really dark, sorry about that.
The next stop on the tour was to learn about how coffee beans are made into usable coffee grounds, and how cocoa beans are made into usable cocoa. The coffee beans are picked, dried out in the sun for at least a week, roasted, and then ground. We were able to muddle the coffee beans ourselves. They placed straw hats on our heads, told us all to hang on to the mallet, and they sang as we danced around in a circle and stomped the coffee beans. It was pretty comical yet efficient!
First the ladies.
Then the men.
We then got to taste the coffee (after it had been properly brewed) and the cocoa. They were both incredibly delicious and obviously as fresh as it gets. We bought some coffee to take home with us.
The last portion of this stop was taste a drink of the Dominican Republic called Mama Juana. It is a mixture of rum, wine, and honey that is soaked in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. The taste is sweet and can be compared to a port wine. It is a rumored aphrodisiac but is also used for medicinal purposes in their culture. They referred to it a few times as “the baby maker” which I thought was hilarious.
Back on to the bus we went to grab some lunch before hitting the waterfalls. We ate a fairly typical Dominican lunch of rice and beans, fresh salad, meat (I opted out of the meat again), and fresh fruit.
Next stop was the main event: The Waterfalls. This particular tour involved climbing up 7 of the 27 waterfalls, and then jumping or sliding down them.
Upon arrival, we suited up in our gear.
And were led by our tour guide on a 20 minute hike towards the waterfalls. It began pouring as we hiked through the jungle which really added to the excitement of the experience for me. Once we reached the falls we got right to it and hopped into the water.
And began our hike up the falls.
It was actually a very challenging tour as the rain was pounding on us, and the rain was causing high waters and extremely strong water currents. Swimming against the current is never easy no matter how strong you are. We got through climbing up three of the falls before the tour guide told us we would not be able to complete the other four due to the excessive rain and high waters. It would be too dangerous. So, back we went down the three waterfalls.
We jumped. A pretty graceful jump if I do say so myself being that I was terrified to jump off the ledge.
And we slid. Can you see me?
After we hopped down the falls, we headed out on another hike back to the bus. We had a rainy ride back to our hotel but the closer we got to the ocean, and the further we got from the countryside, the more it began to clear up. We headed to the beach once we got back to our hotel and I fell asleep on the lounge chair. That’s probably when I got so many of my bug bites. They still itch.
It was a really great tour and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the Dominican Republic. We had a wonderful tour guide who taught us many interesting facts about the culture and history of their country.
Writing this made me very sad thinking that it was exactly a week ago that we went on this tour. I love vacation and want to be back there!
I hope everyone has a wonderful hump day.