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January 22, 2005
The name of this excursion is somewhat misleading; nonetheless, it was my favorite excursion. The Outback Safari has nothing to do with a safari. Instead, it is a 6-hour cultural tour through the countryside of the Dominican Republic.
Our tour guide, Tony, was outstanding. He told us about Dominican culture, products, farming, history, and even politics as we traveled from town to town and into the mountains.
Our first stop was a Dominican country house. It felt strange to be walking through these people's house and on their property, but our tour guide assured us the residents don't mind. They are also paid for opening their house to tourists.
This pink-and-green house was nicely decorated. One of the more interesting aspects of this home is that it has no running water. There is a large black bin to capture rain water. The first half of the week we were on the island, it rained heavily every evening as the tropical thunderstorms moved through. With the amount of rain these storms bring, the rain collecting bins probably never become empty. Alternately, the family can receive water deliveries if necessary.
After touring the house, we were lead down a path in the woods where coffee beans and cocoa beans are grown. We were able to sample some fresh coffee and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was delicious.
The Outback Safari tour continued as we rode the flashy truck through the potholed roads of the small country towns. As we rode through, the people smiled and waved. The children seemed very excited to see the truck. They would yell, laugh, and wave as we passed. At one point, we got caught in what our tour guide called a "Dominican traffic jam." We had to stop temporarily as a cattleman lead his herd of cattle across the road.
We continued on into the mountains, where we made a stop to sample some of the agriculture and products produced on the island. We sampled sugar cane, vanilla, and a terrible-tasting alcoholic beverage called Mama Juana. Mama Juana is purported to be a cure for all types of ailments, in addition to being a potent liquor. Whether this is true or not, it certainly tastes like medicine. Yuck!
We eventually stopped for a Dominican lunch at a ranch. There we had beans and rice, plantains, and chicken. There were some musicians there playing merengue and some girls waving their long skirts from side to side.
After leaving the ranch, the Outback Safari tour headed to Macao Beach. We were each given a boogie board, a crash course on boogie boarding, and 1 hour to give it a try in the ocean. We had a good time.
From journal Iberostar Vacation In the DR
May 20, 2004
The Dominican countryside and mountains are beautiful -- I strongly recommend this tour. They also give some proceeds to help the local schools that they visit.
From journal Paradise - Punta Cana
January 24, 2003
This outfit was very professional and picked us up at our hotel. There were only about 10 people on our jeep, so it wasn''t too crowded. The jeeps travel the back country roads (very BUMPY), so be prepared. The day included a visit to a typical Dominican home - no electricity or running water. Modern applicances, like the fridge and television, were run by battery power. The family served us up some Domincian java. Along the road, we saw how the people live - homes were small and typically built from crude lumber or palm bark, with palm leaf or tin roofs. We stopped to cool down at a crystal clear stream, with long horn cattle grazing at the side.
Then it was off to a little village to stop at a rum shack, where you can buy cheap Dominican rum, cigars, and vanilla. Lunch was sandwiches and salad, and was tasty enough.
From there we hopped on a wooden boat for a tour down a jungle river, which emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. At the ocean, we boogie boarded on the big waves coming in. The beach was quiet and secluded.
Throughout the tour, our guide Sandy explained the local history, culture, plants, and animals that we saw. Growing wild, we saw organe, lime, lemon, passion fruit, mango, and avocado trees, as well as banana plantations and sugar cane fields. Sandy gathered some termites from a tree and let them crawl on my boyfriend''s upper legs - he told him not to worry, they don''t like "that" kind of wood!
The rum and coke, beer and soft drinks flowed freely all day long. It was a full day of fun that we highly recommend. The company offers tours all over the island. Check out their website here.
From journal Dominican Republic - Amber Coast