Dominican Republic Day Five: A Morning Walk With A New Friend In The Los Haitises National Park

Dominican Republic Day Five: A Morning Walk With A New Friend In The Los Haitises National Park

Dominican Republic Day five morning hike (19 of 36)
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I slept well my first night at the remote Altos de Cano Hondo resort adjacent to Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic.  The night was filled with the  sounds of crickets and frogs. I heard them throughout the night and they  were so calming. I awoke early, as I always do on my travels, had  some coffee and was off to explore the area around my resort shortly after sunrise. 

As I left the resort under the  morning  sun that filtered through some  high clouds, 

one of the dogs that lives at the resorts followed me down the steep stone driveway.

He accompanied me on my entire three  mile hike. At  first I tried to chase him away, I thought he would scare the birds I was trying to photograph. He wasn’t dissuaded  and continued to follow me as I searched for a trail I found on my All Trail hiking app. 

I soon found the start of trail. It started as a grass and dirt road. There was barbed wire on both sides of  road. On one side, I would later learn, the land was adjacent to the national park, and cattle would  freely roam and graze on the wild vegetation. The other side was a grassy field.

It was flooded and  there were green herons wading in the water,

and flying overhead, squawking nosily. I would later learn these grassy fields were rice  paddies. So cool, I have never hiked along rice paddies before. 

The dog, I named  Prince Pretzels (after my cousin Darline’s poodle Prince, and one of my childhood dogs, Pretzels) also ran into, splashed and waded in the rice paddies, coming out soaked and muddy.

Large cliffs soon came into view as I proceeded on the trail. 

After the green herons the next birds I saw  were  a small flock of black smooth-billed ani birds in the trees along the trail. 

And a couple of very large and loud white-necked crows were seen in a tree top. I had seen the ani birds before on my travels but the white-necked crows were a new bird for me which I added to my Merlin bird app life list. 

There were all kind of unfamiliar plants growing on the trail and some flowers, like this sensitive plant or mimosa flower,

and these beans or seeds which my Picture this plant identification app said are smooth from the smooth rattle box plant. I love trying to learn the new flora and fauna of the areas I visit but it is frustrating because of the time and research needed to identify them and my  decreasing short term memory. I forget many of the plants and animals I may have learned a year ago. I just remembered seeing the mimosa plants and flowers in Trinidad two years ago. I now wish I was able to do learn more about the many plants and animals that live on our planet  when I was younger. ( I hate to admit it, but for those who don’t know I am 63 years old). As they say, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I am trying to learn.

I also was able to finally photograph this pretty green spotted  butterfly, I believe a  malachite butterfly named after a mineral of that color. I had seen a few but they seldom stop fluttering to allow a photograph .

The grassy and dirt trail ended at another barbed wire fence and, checking my All Trails App I realized I walked past the trail I wanted to follow.  I turned around and soon found the  narrow rocky trail that led into the subtropical forest. 

At the start of the trail I found these oil coconuts sprouting  along the trail. I learned they are  oil coconuts (and are indescribably delicious)

and some of the local residents plant them in the forest so that they can harvest them. I was told this practice is not encouraged since it threatens other native species. The oil coconut I learned is so different, and more flavorful than the coconuts we consume here in the United States. 

I continued up the narrow  rocky  trail  and soon came to a gate. It was unlocked so I  decided, after some thought, and encouragement from my canine friend,   to open it  and continue my hike. 

At this time I was unsure of  whether this was private property .  However, my map showed that it was within  the borders of Los Haitises National Park.  Soon after the  gate I came upon this horse, tethered to a tree. Odd,  I thought but my faithful dog and I continued on. 

The very narrow trail led into a lush subtropical forest. The sounds of birds filled the air but the were hard to see and photograph in the thick canopy of trees. I was now familiar with the squawking of the Hispaniolan woodpecker and there were plenty of them squawking in the tops of the many tall palm trees in the forest. 

Large rocky cliffs and hilks could be seen along the trail as we continued our hike. 

Some pretty wildflowers bloomed along the trails including I believe ( again I’m trying my best but please correct any misidentifications)  native Indian shot and,

starrush white top flowers, 

but this  pretty purple Malabar melastome  was  invasive.

These pretty white flowers I couldn’t identify. 

As I continued on the narrow, and now muddy trail I found this pile of coconuts, 

and this basket which looks like it was used in the harvest of the coconuts. 

 At this time I still wasn’t sure if I was on private property and,  I realized it was getting late, I was going to meet  the resort’s guide at  so I turned back at this large mango tree.  The subtropical sun was intense and it got hot and steamy in the lush wet forest. The dog followed but looked like it was exhausted and in need of water. Poor dog,but I didn’t ask him to join me. 

I walked back along the trail and heard singing in the forest. There was an elderly man apparently climbing trees and harvesting coconuts. I believe this was his horse. My guide would later advise me the trail was part of Los Haitises National Park and that the locals are allowed to harvest wild fruits, coconuts and other items. However, I also learned I wasn’t supposed to hike the trail without a guide. Oh well, so much for that rule being broken .

I soon came to the dirt and grass road  that lead to this trail. Here I saw a pair of  killdeer birds and the dog had fun trying to catch them.

and had some time so I again hiked the road leading to the entrance of Los Haitises National Park  where the boats were docked. 

Along this road I saw more of the very common yellow-faced grassquits, they are everywhere, both near the ground and in the trees. 

I did see this beautiful bird, a cuckoo but I wasn’t sure, from this photos whether it was a mangrove or a lizard cuckoo. I would get more, and better photos, on my later hikes. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Dominican Republic Day Five Altos de Cano   morning hike birds. October 24 2021. 

I returned to my resort in time to meet my guide Wilfred, discuss some tours, and eat a good wholesome  breakfast. Wilfred is a good and intelligent guide, very familiar with  Los Haitises National park, and it’s flora and fauna. He spoke excellent English to. I signed up for a boat tour at 10 a.m. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my  morning hike. Dominican Republic Day Five  Altos de Cano morning hike. October 21 2021. 

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

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