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Family visits are wonderful (exhausting yes), but wonderful. Every time my family comes to the Dominican Republic, I get to experience something new and exciting, last time they were here we did ‘helmet diving’ with Aqua Nautas and this time we travelled into the Dominican outback to experience a little bit of rugged Dominican life, some zip-lining and kayaking at Wild Ranch!
Wild Ranch is a sustainable conservation project and a place for adventure! As well as their ‘Wild Ranch Canopy Adventure’ consisting of 8 zip lines and kayaking cruise along the Chavon river, the entire area is a conservation centre for the Dominican Republic’s native animals and plants, such as coffee and coco plants, iguanas, birds and boa constricta snakes, making it a fun place to spend the day, but an interesting place to learn a little more about the Dominican Republic’s wild side!
From Casa de Campo to Wild Ranch is a bit of an adventure in itself, a 3o-minute drive along the road towards Bayahibe, you will pass sugar fields, small villages, road-side butchers shops and the traditional wooden Dominican homes, which are part of the everyday Dominican culture. From the main road you turn off onto a dirt track which takes you to the ‘El Gato’ village, the Dominican Republic’s oldest village, which is more than 130 years old and is currently part of a conservation project being undertaken by Wild Ranch – to preserve this important part of Dominican heritage. It is in ‘El Gato’ that you are met by the Wild Ranch 6×6 all-terrain truck and your journey into the wilderness begins!!
Arriving after a bumpy ride to the ranch, you are welcomed into a beautiful tropical paradise, surrounded by lush forest and the Chavon river. Here our tour guide leads us around their animal rescue centre, the home of abandoned and rescued goats, iguanas, dogs, cats, chickens, snakes, cows and more, before we are swept up a small hill to the ‘zip-line preparation area’ which also happens to be a beautiful shady terrace overlooking the river, where we enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while we prepare ourselves for the tarzan-like adventure ahead!
When we were ready, a team of trained professionals strapped us into our harnesses and in perfect English gave us a thorough safety brief and explanation of what to expect from our zip-lining experience. Before arriving, my parents had been a little apprehensive about swinging between trees and even more so about doing it (for the first time) in a third world country – but the professionalism of our guides and good quality equipment being used, soon but our minds a little more at ease (even if some members of our party remained little scared.)
So feeling just a little uncomfortable, but certainly secure in our harnesses, off we trekked into the wild, passing wild passion fruit trees, coffee and coco plants, some grazing horses and a few more goats, up we climbed into the jungle canopy to the first zip line. Being the bravest, Philip was the first up and following the safety procedure ‘elbow out, head out, pull down to break’ he launched himself down the zip and swung through the jungle, just like Tarzan. After setting such a fine example, me, mum and dad followed with just a little hesitation and wooohoooo off we went! I loved it, I felt completely safe and secure, so was able to enjoy the feel of the wind in my hair, the speed and the fantastic view of the wildlife around me. After our first ‘zip’ another 7 zip-lines followed, each one faster and longer than the last, until by the time we reached the final one I felt like I was flying! Great fun!
To add a little extra spice and adventure, on your way through the zip-line experience we encountered (and endured) the ‘balance challenges’ – a kind of rope ladder or swing rope between the trees, which looked a lot easier than it was – we all jumped on thinking ‘thats easy’ only to find it was not easy and was rather scary! (Look at the photos and you can see our faces look a little bit frightened!) But don’t worry you can opt out of this part if it looks too scary for you!
To cool down from the zipping, we hopped into 2-person kayaks and cruised a little way down the river and it was beautiful! With the jungle rising up on either side of the river and birds circling overhead you feel like you truly are in the middle on no-where, in your own kind of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ adventure. Whilst on the river we also spotted a ‘rope swing’, which as you can swim in the river I imagine is a fun way to get in (we declined on swimming in preference for a nice cup of coffee and sandwich on the terrace!)
Wild Ranch is a really fun way to spend a day – with your family or friends or even for a kids birthday party! I will definitely go back!
Here are the photos the Wild Ranch photographer took of our adventure:
Of course you can’t take your own camera on the zip or river, but here are a couple of photos I took before and after our adventure:
Rebecca Hughes, Editorial and Events Marketing
TEL: 809-523-2045 CEL: 809-949-8906 (evenings and weekends)
Altos de Chavón, Casa de Campo
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