Dominican Republic Day Seven: An Informative Hike in The Los Haitises National Park With My Guide Wilfred
Los Haitises National Park is described by the Dominican Republic travel website as “one of crown jewels” of the Dominican Republic’s national park system. Encompassing over 600 square miles “Los Haitises ” translates into “hilly land” in the native Taino language. I learned this firsthand on a wonderful guided tour of the park with Wilfred, the tour guide at Altos De Cano Hondo Resort where I recently stayed for five days on my visit to the Dominican Republic.
The Altos De Cano Hondo resort is conveniently located next to Los Haitises National Park and a trail leading into the thick, lush forest is only a 1/2 mile from the resort. The walk to the trail itself is scenic as can be seen on my previous blog post. I found the trail and hiked in the forest on two previous occasions, not realizing I was supposed to be accompanied by a guide. This time I was, and Wilfred certainly educated me on so much of the flora, fauna and local people that I could never learn on my own.
Unfortunately, the only time Wilfred was available for a guided tour was 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. I made no prior arrangements and only requested the tour after my morning walk. He takes out boat excursions and birding walks in the morning so my only choice was to hike in the afternoon heat since I was only at the resort one more day. As we walked along the now familiar trail next to he rice paddies we saw two birds, in the afternoon heat, a cattle egret and
Soon after we were on the trail Wilfred showed me a local stinging nettle, I am glad he told me to avoid, since contact will cause a poison ivy like rash, but of much shorter duration. These are the things you would want to know when roaming foreign forests.
Wilfred. with machete in hand, took me into the lush sub-tropical forest. A machete is a necessity in the forest of Los Haitises National Park. The trails are quickly overgrown with lush vegetation.
I hiked a short distance on this trail on my two previous days at the resort so there are many more photos in my prior blog posts. However, I turned back with the forest was becoming thick and overgrown. Wilfred had plans to hike to the ocean near the cave we visited on my boat excursion. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.
The sun was overhead now, unlike my walks in the early morning. The forest looked much more open as we walked with the steep cliffs in the distance on both sides of the trail.
Wilfred would stop and show me many of the wild plants, fruits and other native flora along the trail including these ripening coffee beans,
and fruit of a star fruit tree. He encouraged me to try it, and I did, it was delicious.
We also found ripe coconuts along the trail which he quickly opened with his machete and offered me the sweet cool water inside.
I have had coconut water on other trips in the Caribbean so I knew that it would be delicious and refreshing and it was.
We soon walked past the furthest point I had previously hiked on the trail and it became rocky, muddy in spots and steep.
It was easy to see why the park got it’s name, “Los Haitises” or hilly land. We began climbing and descending some steep hills as we followed the trail toward the bay.
The vegetation along the trail became more lush and thicker. And, it being mid day it was hot and humid.
Wilfred continued to educate me on many of the native and introduced plants we saw as we hiked. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the native ones I had not seen before. But others like the cacao trees I knew from my trips to Ecuador and Africa. I did not know you could chew on the unripe pods. We did and they again were amazingly delicious.
We saw so many plants, I only photographed a few, such as the fruit of the breadfruit tree,
and these large leaves of the trumpet tree which are so decorative and are growing around the grounds of our resort.
We had climbed a few more hills, and had walked about a mile, when we came to another steep hill. I had already hiked four miles in the morning, it was mid afternoon, hot and humid, and I reluctantly had to tell Wilfred I wasn’t going to make it to the ocean, He was disappointed, as was I, but I am not young anymore. I was tired, hot and thirsty. However, I now wish I would had continued on.
So we turned around and had a nice slow hike back to the resort.
Wilfred continued to show me the local plants and trees along the way. We saw banana trees and,
this mushroom which looked like some sort of tropical stinkhorn mushroom.
One of the highlights of the hike were coconuts from which coconut oil is made. They were the coconuts that I saw at the start of the trail on my first hike.
Skillfully using his machete , I would be missing fingers if I used one, he opened one and the “apple” a spongy, oily material inside was amazingly delicious. I learned about the difference between the coconuts used to make oil and the ones we eat here in the United States. It was amazing how much I learned on a 2 1/2 hour hike.
It was now late afternoon, and I was tired and hungry, as we walked back to the resort. We still saw a few birds on the way including a smooth billed ani,
We also came upon this pretty scene,
a mother cow feeding her calf. I have never seen this in real life before and it was another wonderful experience I had on this informative walk. It was an awesome experience.
And there would be one more surprise. Wilfred and his brother harvested fresh oysters the previous day. We shared two dozen of this delicious fresh mollusks when we returned to the resort. Wilfred was a knowledgeable and personable young man. He spoke excellent English, which thought himself by watching American television shows on the internet. It was a pleasure to get know him. I hope to return, to see the humpback whales that calf and mate in the bay, and hike again with him, next time we will reach the ocean. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in the Los Haitises National Park. . Dominican Republic Day Seven Los Haitises Hike. October 26 2021.
I spent the rest of the afternoon editing photos and roaming the beautiful grounds of my resort on the hill. There are more photos of this amazing resort in my previous blog post or on my photo gallery page. I again had a filling and wholesome meal and fell asleep to the sound of the frogs and crickets in the forests around the resort. It was another day in paradise.
“If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rainforest with respect, man will become extinct.”