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