Rapid and extensive development in the Dominican Republic has damaged a lot of the country’s natural resources, wildlife reserves and tropical rainforests, with only 15% of its original forest cover remaining. Therefore the promotion and implementation of ecotourism in the Dominican Republic is vital if the country is to preserve its remaining environment.
There are now 19 national parks which contain protected areas ideal for ecotourism in the Dominican Republic. These have no official campsites where green travellers can stay, but visitors can obtain permission and passes for a small fee in order to camp in the parks at the National Parks Office in the capital city of San Domingo. Alternatively, hostels and campsites are available on the peripherals of the parks where it’s possible to stay at a reasonable price.
Wildlife and Marine Sanctuaries
Six wildlife reserves and two marine sanctuaries have also been created to promote ecotourism in the Dominican Republic. Birdlife and whale watching are especially popular attractions which help to sustain ecotourism in the Dominican Republic. For the adventurous, there are numerous activities to choose from including trekking, mountain walks, abseiling, canyoning, caving and horse riding.
The Travel Foundation, a UK charity which promotes ecotourism in the Dominican Republic and other countries, is currently working on a project designed to help locals sell their crafts to tourists. Training is provided to teach local artisans the best ways to design ranges of products which will be attractive to holiday makers and these are sold through the most popular resorts, thus providing much-needed revenue for the poorer people of the country.
Ecotourism in the Dominican Republic can be fully enjoyed by staying in the mountains too – Villa Pajon is approximately three hours away from Santo Domingo and visitors can rent cabins which nestle in the mountains. Alternatively, Rancho Wendy is a rustic mountain retreat which offers basic accommodation alongside a wide range of activities, ideal for ecotourism in the Dominican Republic.
Birdwatching and ecotourism in the Dominican Republic
Due to the wide range of colourful birdlife in the Dominican Republic, birdwatching is a popular activity for those interested in ecotourism in the Dominican Republic. Many birds which can be found in the country are endemic and so this is the only place in the world travellers will have the chance to see them. Tody Tours provides extensive tours and are led by bird specialist Kate Wallace, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who first came to the Dominican Republic in 1994 in the area of environmental education.
There is plenty to interest those who wish to enjoy ecotourism in Dominican Republic, the country may have had its natural environment ravaged by developers but this is changing rapidly. The many protected areas and national monuments can no longer be touched by anything other than ecotourists who want to appreciate the natural beauty and diversity of this fantastic destination.
Photo credit: dricen