Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's All About Nature in the Dominican Republic

Floating in a calm waters, the color of a turquoise gem stone, waters that are huddled by a jungle of foliage, it's easy to forget that you are just minutes from your air-conditioned hotel room. The Reserva Ecologica Ojos Indigenas (Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve) is the only private forest reserve in Punta Cana and it sits smack on the property of the Puntacana Resort and Club in the Dominican Republic. Tasked with protecting the area's natural resources, the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation seeks to conserve the region's biodiversity by preserving this park.

Hundreds of different plants, including mahogany, mesquite, red mangrove as well as feather, coconut and sabal palms make up the dense foliage of this reserve that's home to numerous bird species found only in the Dominican Republic.While you're enjoying the refreshing pools, you'll spot tilapia and other freshwater fish as well as mud turtles.

On the 1,200 protected acres, 12 fresh-water lagoons are fed from the underground Yauya River that flows into the sea. Most of the lagoons bear names, such as Inriri, Corcote, Buren and Guacara that reflect words from the Tainos Indians, the island's first inhabitants who were wiped out because of European colonization. (The Tainos would refer to these pools as ojos or eyes because of their shape.) Each lagoon has a different depth and color but only three of the dozen lagoons are regularly open for swimming plus one additional that rotates. Yauya is shallow, a mere three-feet deep, with a wide wooden deck where benches are inset. At Casinbajagua, you can leave your gear on two wooden planks and climb down a ladder into the cool lagoon.

As I walked a shaded ribbon of a path lined with limestone rocks that links the lagoons, I heard shouts of glee in the distance. These were coming from Guama, a lagoon that you can dive into. Here I found a family from Germany with their three teenagers. The teens were diving in over and over again while the parents took the more tame route by climbing down into the water.

It's easy to spend hours in this reserve, bird watching, lounging, swimming, exploring the plant life. And, when you decide you've had your fill of the sub-tropical paradise, you can head back to the trail head, and wait for the shuttle bus to take you back to your air conditioned room. And, if you can't get enough of this little Eden, you can always return tomorrow.











11 comments:

Kerry Dexter said...

I really liked reading over the names of the tress in this reserve, and your photographs remind me of a place in Florida near where I grew up. Thanks for sharing your visit, J, it sounds inspiring.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Kerry, I'd love to know where in Florida. I was thinking Ocala National Forest or maybe Cedar Key on the West Coast.

Alexandra said...

I would LOVE to visit. The turquoise water is always so appealing. Just reading your account made me relax!

ruth pennebaker said...

You go to such incredible places -- but do you ever get tired of traveling?

Brette said...

I love that there is a preserve like this in the middle of a resort. I have hesitated go to the DR though since it is the same island as Haiti. Did you find that it is safe and truly very separate from Haiti?

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Brette, This expansive resort property is extremely safe and secure. No worries at all. And the DR is separate from Haiti. I was on property the entire time, but given that they have 8 restaurants, numerous beaches and bars and myriad other activities, I didn't have a need to go elsewhere on this specific trip. So I can't speak for the security elsewhere in the DR.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Alexandra, Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed reading this post. Those waters were gorgeous.

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Ruth, I'm not a homebody so I actually don't tire of traveling. I'm one of those people who would love living out of a suitcase.

Living Large said...

Oh, I've heard so much about the D.R. lately, it's definitely on my wish list. Your photos are outstanding!

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Living Large, Thanks for your kind comments. And if you decide to visit the DR, let me know and I'll gladly provide additional travel tips.

Jane Louise Boursaw said...

What a lovely place. Since it snowed here today, I would really, really love to go there. Like, right now.