On our recent trip to the Dominican Republic, we had the opportunity of venturing through the countryside in the Anamuya Mountains. There are many tours you can take while visiting Punta Cana, but Outback Adventures stood out to us among the rest.
When we visit a destination, we like to experience and learn about its culture. Outback Adventures Full Day Safari Tour delivered that! We were picked up from our resort around 8am and greeted with a smile by the wonderful guide, Angel and our driver for the day, Papi. By the way, you will not go thirsty on this tour! Each tour has a cooler filled with bottled water, sodas, rum and beer which you can have any time on the tour. I promise they will keep you hydrated!
We were the first stop for pick up on the covered, open-air bus and stopped at a few other resorts on the way to the countryside. Yes, the Dominican Republic has many beautiful resorts and beaches, but I recommend taking the time to get off the resort for a day and see how most of the Dominicans are really living. What we saw along the way was an eye opening experience.
There was a school bus following behind us at one point and I thought there were kids on it. We were told the bus was actually transporting workers to some of the resorts as transportation is hard to come by for many. Tourism has a huge impact on the economy there.
During our drive through El Salao and La Ceiba, we learned that many are living in less fortunate conditions while working hard to provide for their family. I found myself breaking into tears as we drove through some of the villages. From the server at your resort’s restaurant to the housekeeping staff for your room – these are the very people who go home at the end of each day, many living in conditions like these.
We had the opportunity to stop by a couple of schools in the villages El Caño and Isleño. This is one of the reasons why we love Outback Adventures. They are active in giving back to the community and committed to educating visitors about the Dominican Republic. The schools are in constant need of school supplies, uniforms and other useful items in the classroom.
Tip: Please donate useful items, not candy. Also, if you know someone visiting a Punta Cana resort and they want to book this tour through their resort, please let them know about the donation opportunity prior to their trip so they can bring supplies along. A lot of the people in our group booked through their resort’s excursion desk. They said the resort agent did not tell them about the opportunity to make donations to the schools. We knew about school donations prior to the trip and brought some with us thanks to reading Trip Advisor reviews.
The donations go directly to the teacher (we know because we witnessed it!) tourists used to give it directly to the students who would chase after the tour bus but it became a distraction from their learning. It’s a struggle for the parents who are doing their best to send their kids to school so they may have a chance of living a better life when they grow up. I think we take simple things like these for granted and remember: you never know what kind of struggle a stranger is going through so try to be kind!
After a bumpy and adventurous ride (we didn’t mind!) we arrived at our first stop for lunch, a cigar demonstration and a little shopping at some local shops. We took a tour around the ranch and saw the cutest farm animals. They even had iguanas, flamingos and a crocodile!
The cigars come in different sizes and even flavors such as vanilla and mango. We each were given one to sample (or you could just smell it!) A lot of work goes into making each cigar and it is all done by hand.
We also tasted the popular Dominican drink mamajuana, rum and chocolate wine. I wanted to take a bottle home but we bought a box of cigars to give to some friends. They were made locally by the demonstrator we had just seen.
I don’t think I had ever seen such beautiful greenery until we visited the Dominican Republic. Not to mention the fragrant flowers and other plant life.
Lunch was served “family style” and the view of the lush mountainside was very beautiful. Fried chicken, rice, beans, salads and other items were served, it was delicious! If you’re a vegetarian, they have vegetarian dishes too. Rum, beer, bottled water and sodas were the choices of drinks.
Tip: If you’re wondering about bathrooms on this tour, there are bathrooms at the lunch stop and at the next stop I will tell you about. You can also use a bathroom at one of the resort pick up points on the way to the mountain (unless you’re the last pick up then go before you board.)
Our next stop was at the home of Chapi and his wife Aracelis in the small village of Palo Amargo de Anamuya. They live there along with their 3 kids and adorable puppy. We had the opportunity to walk through their home to see what a typical Dominican home looks like.
I was surprised to learn that their kitchen is in a separate structure from the house – same goes for their bathroom. Their home could be compared relatively in size with a 1-bedroom apartment and meals are cooked outside over a fire for most of the time. My husband grew up partly in South America and then Trinidad, he explained to me this was the norm where he was from as well.
Aracelis and Angel demonstrated the process of making coffee, which we also got to try. The green plant in this photo are coffee berries on a branch. When they are ripe they are sorted by color and ripeness. The flesh is removed and the beans are washed and then dried in the sun for a few days. Next, they are roasted and finely grounded using a mill or grinder which turns it into the powder that you use to brew your coffee each day. We got to taste this coffee roasted with cinnamon and it was so good!
If you want to take a bag home, you can purchase the coffee from Aracelis. After filling up on some fresh coconut, fruit and hot cocoa, we boarded the bus and headed to our last stop, Macao Beach. This beach is the last public beach in the La Altagracia province so there are some locals there as well as tourists.
Tip: There isn’t a place to change into your swimsuit so either wear it under your clothes or you can change at one of the stops with a bathroom and don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a towel. If boogie boarding is your thing – there are some on the back of the truck that is provided for your use. You can leave your bags on the bus (at every stop you get off) because the drivers always stay behind to guard the bus. We felt very safe on this tour!
A Learning Opportunity
I hope you’ll get a chance to visit the Dominican Republic and if you do, I recommend taking this full day excursion with Outback Adventures. With their experienced guides you will learn a lot, eat a lot and laugh a lot! But most important, you have the opportunity to make a change in someone’s life. You’ll come away from this tour with a fresher view of seeing the world and maybe you’ll even start by helping your community at home.
Although we were invited as guests, my opinions are always my own.