Lago Enriquillo La Hoya El Jobo Isla Cabritos Dominican Republic Carribean
Travel Report from Franzisco 6.9.2003
I come back to Sosua were I had been a lot of times before and I knew the northern coast quite well.
To get to know a new part of the island I decided to visit the Lago Enriquillo.
This is not very near, its rather some miles to travel. The Lago Enriquillo is located in the South West of the Dominican Republic not far away from the haitian borderline.
To get there I didn’t choose the shortest way through small towns, but the most comfortable ones, with the five star buses “Caribe Tour”.
I hoped to finish the route in one day, because it was a rather long bus journey and you never know what will happen in the Dominican Republic and you always have to think about delays.
Very early in the morning we started out from Sosua-Charamicos, where the bus stations are located, the first piece lasted about 4 hours until the capital Santo Domingo. The air conditioning in the busses of the Caribe Tours are really working well and you should always have a pullover nearby if you don’t want to get a cold. You can always look out of the window and just enjoy the nice lands and the different vegetations.
It was half eleven when we reached Santo Domingo. As always there was a crowd of people at the “Caribe Tour” station. From here you can get everywhere and I think that it is the largest bus station in the Dominican Republic.
I had to buy a new ticket, then I could drive until Barahona and later I had to change to smaller buses. The distance from Santo Domingo to Sosua is almost the same as from Santo Domingo to Barahona (around 270 kilometers).
So I did not yet travel the half distance. After a short waiting time we moved on. During the Trip I saw faszinating landscapes and I also saw that the Dominicans life on the streets. We passed San Cristobal,Bani and Azua until we reached Barahona in the afternoon. In the bus I asked where I had to go because I wanted to visited Neiba, where I wanted to search a hotel. As always the Gringo or also Americano, as the Domincans love to call strangers, got a nice information.
Near the Caribe Tour station there was also the station to the depart to Neiba. In contradiction to Santo Domingo where there were a lot of Gringos, there where almost none left here. But this was not a very great problem because the Dominicans always are willing to help and friendly. If you can speak a bit of Spanish this can be of a very great help to you because outside the touristic centres the Dominicans don’t speak English.
At the new bus station there was a smaller bus with around 25 seats. But you have to wait until the bus is full before the tour can start. There are no more tickets, the Cobrador collects the fees. But you should inform yourself before you start, otherwise they like to add money to the fee if you are a stranger. My experience is that the further you move away from the touristic hotels the more honest and natural the people get.
During this journey the landscape became really fascinating. Really crazy these contrasting vegataions. From green valleys with rivers where there were large banana fields nearby, until deserted land with cacuts that reminded me of the mexican deserts. Then there were large Sugarcane fields where there were rail tracks nearbye. Near the fields there are Bateys of Haitians that work on the fields, there work is really hard and those not bring them a lot of money, and there housing is not comfortable at all. If you see these poor people near the streets you realise how much you have and how good you can feel that you actually live in such freedom and richness.
Passing La Hoya, El jobo and Galyan we reached Neiba on the late afternoon. After same information I choose a little apartment in the center which was at the parque central, after a long shower i looked at the dominicans. I could not resist an heladeria and bought myself a great delicate ice-cream. The nice young lady that served there changed my mind and I ate the icecream in the Heladeria.
The next morning the real journey to Lago Enriquillo should start. First I again asked where the buses would depart. Only 100 meters apart with a mini bus that are calle Gua Guas that already looked worn out. The gua guas always got the same toutes and transport almost everything. This time it went over Villa Jaragua, Los Rios und Poster Rio until La Descubierta. I almost was at the Enriquillo valley, but only when I left Neiba I realised that. The 20 kiometers times 100km large valley is surrounded by the South Kordillere. (Sierra de Baoruco)
Behind the small place Jaragua I could see the Lago Enriquillo. It was really amazing how calm and big the aproximatiley 300 km² great lake was lying there. But I could not see the lake very good because there were a lot of trees there. I informed the driver that I wanted to get out at the lake. The bus driver stopped there and let me out, and I saw “Entrence to Lake Enriquillo)
It was not yet midday but it was already very hot. The lake is about 44 m below the sea level and it can reach up to 40 degrees here. In this salt lake there is also the island Cabritos where you can find crocodiles and flamingos. That is also the reason why there are some tourists that come here.
I also wanted to see a crocodile, following the sign i found a small house where a dominican explained me what I had to do. If you wanted to get to the other Bank you had to pay an entry fee because you entered the Parquew National Isla Cabritos. So I payed and looked at the other bank, but I only saw some leguans.
I also found a boat place with 2 boats. I asked what a transfer would cost, they said about 900 Pesos, that was at that time about 120 DM. The boat had 10 places and if you are travelling alone or the boat is full they wanted to get 900 pesos. For me alone this was to expensive and I wanted to wait for some other tourists to divide the costs. I found a little lake where there was a dominican woman in her bikini and explained that one can take a bath there. She was pretty modern and explained to me that she was living in the USA and visitng her family.
Then there came 3 tourists, young germans that lived in a hotel in Barahona. But they wouldn’t like to spend such a lot of money and therefore I didn’t get the chance to visit Isla Cabritos.
When we got back to the bank a dominican showed me a crocodil that was about 200 meters away from us, I took a photograph but it was not very good because only the eyes and nose of the crocodil were outside the water.
Later on I left the lake and went on to La Descubierta with the Gua Gua’S and to the haitan border at Jimani. I had no special plans and only looked at the border transfer, there was nothing else that was interesting going on in Jimani. In the afternoon I drove back and stopped in Los rios. I told them from my tour and that I had not yet seen a crocodile. A dominican told me that the crocodiles would come in the evening near the shore. He wanted to drive me with his Enduro. As we saw the shore there was no crocodil. We waited but there was no crocodile coming, maybe it was to early for them to come. I waited for the next Gua Gua to get back to Neiba, wer I stayed for another day. I also spent 2 days in Barahona, one day in Bani and one day in Santo Domingo.
I didn’t yet see a crocodile or flamingo as I had planed, but I anyway have experienced a lot of things, and I can say that the journey s the goal, everything is just great because you can learn a lot of the situations and people you meet.
To finish my report I would like to say that the Dominican Republic has a lot of great things, and the landscape has a lot of variations. Beaches, jungle, mountains and you can visit everything with busos or Enduros. The people are all very nice and friendly and it would be very sad if you would not try to learn about the fantastic land: The Dominican Republic
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