This post is also available in: Spanish
Having lived in Casa de Campo and the Dominican Republic for nearly 4 years now, I thought it was about time I get to know the country a little better – and what better place to start than Bayahibe? And so with my explorer’s hat on and accompanied by my trusty side-kick Philip Silvestri, we set off to Bayahibe – to see what we could see!
If you have ever read a guide book for La Romana or Bayahibe, you will have inevitably read about the beautiful “Parque Nacional del Este” (the National Park of the East) and possibly even a place called “Padre Nuestro”, where there are caves – however (in our experience) we have found there is very little information about how to get to and around these tourist attractions and about what you might actually find there!
So here we bring information about the Parque Nacional del Este and “Padre Nuestro”…..from our our experience and adventures of the area!
The Parque Nacional del Este
The Parque Nacional del Este (the National Park of the East) is located on the South-East coast of the Dominican Republic, to the East of Casa de Campo and La Romana. An expansive area 310km², which encompasses the Island of Saona and the famous “Palmilla” beach and sand bank. On land, the park is made up of Subtropical Rainforest and Subtropical Dry Forest, with 112 different bird species, including 8 species endemic to the park area and 11 endemic to the Caribbean, whilst living in the waters surrounding the park are dolphins and marine manatees.
“Padre Nuestro” is a small area in the Parque Nacional del Este, located close by to the tourist areas of Bayahibe and Dominicus. Originally “Padre Nuestro” was a small village of 180 families who survived by hunting pigs, beekeeping and producing coal, however in 2003 the community was relocated outside of the National Park area and “Padre Nuestro” became a conservation center, where today visitors can take a 1.9km trail through the indigenous forest and discover a number of caves with underground lakes and Taini carvings and petroglyphs.
An enthusiastic and knowledgeable Dominican Spanish-speaking guide will lead you on an exploration of the park, where you will discover:
• Indigienous flora and fauna such as the Gauyiga plant, a root vegetable the Taino indians used to make bread.
• “El bosque de cactus” – a landscape of towering cacti, many over 20ft tall.
• A charcoal site – a replica of the primitive ovens once used by villagers to produce coal, a practice which is now prohibited in the National Park.
• “La cueva de chico” – a cave and underground lake where petroglyphs created by the Taino indi- ans can be seen.
The following photos were taken on our stroll around Padre Nuestro:
Open daily: 9am – 4:30pm Entrance fee: RD$200 per person (price includes the guide, however a tip is recommend.)
TIP: Wear long pants with sturdy shoes/sneakers and don’t forget your camera!
Getting to Padre Nuestro:
When you leave Casa de Campo resort turn right as if you were heading to the Casa de Campo – La Romana airport, continue on this road past the airport, over the river (at “La represa”), past the La Estancia golf resort until you see a turning on your right signposted “Bayahibe” or “Dominicus.” Turn right and follow the winding road towards Bayahibe/Dominicus, after about 5/10 minutes, the road curves sharply to the right and you will see a big sign welcoming you to the area – to the left of the sign, on the curve is the entrance to Padre Nuestro.
The entrance to Padre Nuestro
Once you have turned into the entrance follow the dirt track straight down (don’t worry it’s not too bumpy) and you will come to a “check-point” where you will be asked to pay RD$200 per person for your entry, a little bit after that you’ll arrive at the main car park, where you will find a rustic “welcome center” and you will be greeted by a guide. Then your adventure begins! You can choose to have a guide walk with you along the trail or you can go alone (it is signposted), however we do recommend going with a guide, the trail is not that obvious, you will learn a lot from your guide and the “tip” you will be expected to give him or her at the end will be very much appreciated!