If you are Dominican or foreigner, perhaps you know or have visited these destinations: Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Samaná and Constanza… But do you know the tourist offer of the province? espaillat?
Being one of the 32 provinces of the Dominican Republic, espaillat It is located approximately 200 kilometers from Santo Domingo, in the North-Central region of the country, in the area that Dominicans call “Cibao”.
It is limited to the South, with the province of La Vega; to the East with the Hermanas Mirabal Province; to the west, with the provinces of Santiago and Puerto Plata and to the north with the Atlantic Ocean.
This piece of land, which on the north coast is between Cabarete and Cabrera, has a diversity of destinations from beaches, rivers, to artistic spaces and cultures for the entertainment and recreation of those who visit it.
On this occasion we are going to share a two-day tour that we carried out with Grupo Sarma, thanks to the Ecotourism Cluster and the Association for the Development of the province espaillat(Adepe).
The departure from Santo Domingo was scheduled for six in the morning on Saturday, to Jamao al Norte, one of the five municipalities that the destination has. The other municipalities of espaillat They are: San Víctor, Cayetano Germosén, Gaspar Hernández and its head municipality Moca.
The objective of the trip was for 17 journalists from different national media to learn first-hand about the natural, cultural, and gastronomic riches of this cibao treasure.
For a person who does not know this town -as was my case-, its roads are similar to Constanza and San Cristóbal, with narrow streets, mountainous areas, very marked curves, impressive views, rural communities and a humid climate.
Jamao to the North
Upon reaching the municipality of Jamao al Norte, after approximately three and a half hours of travel, we made a stop at Jamao Ecotour, a project of tourism community, which offer locals and foreigners a variety of adventures in the different destinations in the area, including: hiking, rappelling, kayaking, tubing, canyoning, horseback riding, etc.
To live the experience, we traveled in a safari-type vehicle to the Las Espinas community where we put on our vests and hats and rode our kayak down the river, in the Yásica River, towards the confluence for approximately 5.3 kilometers. A challenge!
The road seemed to us like a work of art of nature: the mountains, the animals, the trees, everything combined to form a landscape worthy of framing. When we got on the kayak -which for many was our first time- it was even more magical, the river, the mountains around and the energy that we created together by living this experience made the adventure -which none of us planned- an experience to remember.
This tributary divides the provinces of Puerto Plata and espaillat. “If they take a photo from one side of the river, they can say that they are in Puerto Plata, if they take it from the other, they can say that they are in espaillat”, joked Jairo Morillo, manager of the Jamao Ecotours Project before starting the adventure.
“Right, right! Left, left!”, “Let’s go to the right”, were the exclamations of many paddlers in their respective kayaks to guide their companions and avoid running aground on the stones and sand.
At the end of the kayak tour, after approximately one hour and forty minutes, we climbed to the top of the mountain that divides the Yásica River from the Blanco River, better known at that point as “Río Jamao”, around here we walked about 10 minutes to get to the house of Mrs. Reyita, a lady who awaits the adventurers with Creole food and lodging. (This experience is booked at Jamao Ecotour).
This point at the top of the mountain is the final or return stop for many adventurers who are awaited with a delicious typical lunch, in addition, it is one of the areas that Jamao has suitable for camping. With capacity to place 25 tents for a maximum of 50 people in the garden.
If you want to live this experience you don’t have to bring anything, they have a package that includes a tent, an inflatable mattress for two people, breakfast and dinner. It is advisable to book at least five days in advance and book from this lodging for any excursion.
Jairo Morillo, manager of the Jamao Ecotours project, says that this municipality receives 400 visitors a month between Dominicans and foreigners. To book one of the 10 excursions they offer, it must be done through one of their channels (social networks or website) and when the day of the excursion to Jamao arrives, you must pay, they sign the release and there they will receive the necessary equipment to live their experience .
And the cost? Well, each excursion has a different value, ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 pesos. This includes: transportation, equipment, guides, a snack and a lunch. In the event that you arrive in Jamao in your vehicle, you can leave it safely at the tour operator’s facilities.
“All these services offered by Jamao Ecotour are carried out by people from the community who have been trained for that,” said Jairo.
Serene of the Mountain
when leaving where Mrs. Reyita, We went to the community of Los Bueyes de Villa Trina where Sereno de la Montaña is located, an ecological lodge that stands out for the harmony of its sounds, its aromas and the kindness of its people.
At this destination, we were received by Ángela Rivas, executive director of the Ecotourism Cluster of the Province espaillat. “The cluster is committed to preserving the environment, which is why we have taken the opportunity for them to enjoy this haven of peace where nature coexists harmoniously with peace.”
Serene of the Mountain It is a hostel built with an architectural style similar to the traditional constructions of Jamao al Norte, with five rooms each cabin. Each with a private bathroom and mountain views. The value of the lodging per night ranges from 49 dollars to 79 dollars.
These rooms can accommodate couples or families of four to six people. But, in addition, visitors can camp ($10), tubing, horseback riding, kayaking, and of course, hike through the many trails in the region.
From here we left with “La Flaca” to the Arroyo Grande Waterfall or Salto de Los Bueyes. Without a doubt, a tour for adventurers. In the event that you decide to go in your vehicle, it is mandatory that it be a 4×4, since the road in the entire area is dirt and in some parts there are holes that not any 4×4 supports. -I mean-.
Specifically to get to the Arroyo Grande Waterfall, from the crossing of the coconuts to the waterfall (3 kilometers), the road requires attention. We left in two trucks, some mounted in the back, and it was fun, it was fun, but it’s not an experience that any body can bear.
“There”, “there”, “wepa”, “oh my god”, “this bus is not going to go up here!”, were some of the exclamations of those who were jumping in the coke of the trucks. The route through the mountainous road was accompanied by a lot of vegetation, a small stream, the typical music played by the driver and the laughter that excelled at the cries of “scare”.
After 30 minutes riding along the paths of Palma Herrera and Arroyo Grande, we arrive at Cascada Arroyo Grande. Here it was all worth it! This beautiful waterfall measures a little over seven meters high and envelops, captivates and amazes its visitors with its natural beauty. The time we spent (about 30 minutes) was not enough to appreciate the benefits of this destination.
Back to our lodging, we stopped where doña agustina, a friendly lady who sells delicious coconut sweets on the road to Arroyo Grande. And where it is worth making a stop to enjoy this product and at the same time contribute to the economy of this family and the community.
The day that began for many at 5 in the morning ended with a delicious dinner, marshmallows, live music and dancing, all around a campfire in Sereno de la Montaña.
The next day we did the historical, cultural and gastronomic route, but I will write about that in a future article.