Los Haitises National Park

Trip Start Nov 06, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Sweet Anchorage

Flag of Dominican Republic  , Hato Mayor,
Thursday, February 3, 2011

After filling up on water and fuel at the marina yesterday, we sailed across Samana Bay following We Don't Neaux and Yolo to Los Haitises National Park. It was an easy afternoon sail. Being the last out of the marina, the other boats were anchored and settled by the time we arrived. The park is amazing with huge cliffs shooting out of the water, covered with trees and vines and who knows what else. There are all kinds of little coves and areas of mangroves to explore.  We saw our friends anchored off to one side in a cluster, but Pete spotted a cove that looked just right for Hejira. We entered slowly with an eye on the depth gauge.  It being just after high tide with eight feet under us, we dropped the hook in our own private cove. We look out of the companion way and the v-berth hatch and can see the towering cliffs with blue skies behind. Nothing to hear other than birds calling and the waves lapping against the cliff edges.

I got dinner cooking while Caleb went off in the kayak to get some photos of us at our new anchorage, and Pete followed in the dinghy to explore the nearby area. He went over to say hey to our friends, and it was good he did so - apparently they hadn't seen us come in and had no clue where we were. The boys came back for dinner, and Caleb asked about taking the dinghy for the night. He'd seen a beach that looked sweet for camping, so he finished dinner and was off. It was a very peaceful and quiet night, and we were pleased to find that the mosquitoes were not in too great abundance. I personally found the temperature to also be quite perfect for a restful night.

We slept in a bit this morning and made a tasty breakfast while we waited on Caleb to return with the dinghy. While Pete was cooking, two guys from the park motored over to collect our entry fees. As we only had US currency aboard, I had some chatting to do. I definitely feel like I was barely keeping up with what they were saying in Spanish, but we somehow managed to communicate and settle on the price for a couple of days in USDs. ...it was actually kind of fun.

Caleb returned and we loaded into the dinghy. We saw Justin in the kayak over at Eventide so we went over to say hey. Eventide is out of Florida, and it's another boat of kids like us. We had heard about them multiple times as they are also a duo of brothers plus a girlfriend - Jared and Aaron own the boat and Aaron's girlfriend Sally is along as well. It was nice to meet them, and they were down for a day of exploring. Lance and Andy came over in their dinghy, and we made a tri-hulled raft up. Our dinghy with its 6hp, Eventide with their 2hp on our portside and Yolo to starboard with their 3hp. Plus, Justin attached in his side-car kayak next to Yolo. It was pretty fun. As we swung by We Don't Neaux, Captain Sterling made a bridle to tow all of us. It worked for a little while, and we actually got moving along pretty nicely.  But seeing as maneuverability was relatively minimal being towed, we detached and continued our previous raft-up. We motored past the cove where Hejira is anchored to the next one. It had one small little beach but not much else to see.

The next cove, however, had plenty on offer. It was not just surrounded by cliff faces - it kept going. There were mangroves as we entered and a few different ways to dinghy around. However, seeing as we were three wide, we chose where we could all fit. After cruising in a ways, we could see the cove ending, but there happened to be a dinghy dock! So we all detached, tied up, and unloaded ourselves. It was already so beautiful, and the day hadn't even gotten started.

There was a trail in place through the jungle, and we came to a little hut a short ways in with a map of the area and some information on the park. It appears it is maintained by various groups, including the Peace Corps. The map was not all too informative as it was difficult to tell where we were even located, but no worries - we just walked!  There were a few signs along the way pointing in the direction of a lagoon or a cave, so it was really fun to get off the path and explore a bit. The caves were wicked cool, both figuratively and literally.

The scenery was different throughout. To start, we were in the jungle, hiking up and down little hills, some rocky or covered with the big roots of trees. We saw chocolate growing on trees (had no clue what that looked like), plenty of piles of discarded coconuts, and a bunch of crazy plants - including what we called the "horny tree" (hee hee) because it had horns growing out of it. We could hear all sorts of birds throughout, a few clicks of various bugs, and at one point I spotted the biggest centipede I have ever seen - about six inches in length with a black body with something of an outline of bright orange/yellow. It was crazy, apparently quite poisonous according to Captain Sterling, and it scurried away before I could manage a photograph. Too bad because it was pretty cool to see.

As we carried on, our crew of about 13 people spread out a bit. I ended up way ahead with Roz, Jared, and Captain Sterling. After walking in the jungle for quite some time, suddenly, we were in a more open space surrounded by various ferns and large green leaves, with tall palms scattered throughout. It seemed to be straight out of Jurassic Park.  That lasted for a bit before we came down into an open valley. This area was more of a grassy field with scattered plantain trees. As we continued walking the red dirt path, we came to orange trees, a breadfruit tree, and there was even coffee growing. It was pretty awesome to see and explore. We finally reunited with the entire group, and decided to go just a bit farther as we thought the Eco-Resort was nearby. Yolo and Eventide had both been there, and it was supposed to be sweet - plus, freshwater swimming and food would be available. After a sweaty day hiking through the jungle, nothing sounded better!

We carried on and came to a dirt road next to an area of farmland. There was a pasture of horses to one side and some bulls kept in a paddock on the other side. Pete, Sterling, Justin, Andy, and I were walking up ahead when we saw a bunch of cows coming our way. We could tell they were being herded in our direction. While Sterling, Justin, and Andy walked up ahead, Pete and I climbed up into a tree to avoid any run ins. Needless to say, the locals doing the herding had a good chuckle at us taking photos out of a tree.

Shortly thereafter, we came to the Eco-Resort. It was awesome. The architecture was really cool, all built from stone and poured cement with pools tiered throughout the property. Apparently there are little dams that they open and close, I assume based on rainfall. There were little waterfalls throughout the pools, and the cool swim was so refreshing after the lengthy hike. We ordered some food to share, and enjoyed the delicious, strong local coffee that was on offer. Once we were all buzzed up, Pete and I took a walk up to the actual hotel (the architecture got even cooler) to check out the view. We could see the whole valley over to the bay, covered with various paddocks of farmland with surrounding mountains. Not too shabby.

After getting refreshed, we knew we were burning daylight, so we carried on back. Seeing as we had all poked around on our way in, we were able to carry on at a more reasonable pace.  Some of our crew had made piles of fruit on their way in, so by the time we were back to the dinghy dock, there was a huge pile of bananas and oranges and who knows what else. It was a great day of wandering. But it wasn't totally over.

Caleb, Pete, and I got back into our dinghy and took off. The section of mangroves within this cove had an area behind it where we could explore. We went in as far as was safe without bottoming out and took a look around. It's wicked sweet to be able to just scoot around in these little areas - how else to get here other than arriving by sailboat and exploring by dinghy or kayak? Life is good.

We carried on back to Hejira and are just relaxing. We've received an invite to head over to Eventide to check out their boat, so we'll take them up on that in a bit. It'll be good.
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Meatlissa on

Livin the dream.

TER on

Nice post, Great pics, are you sure you wouldn't like some snow.

Cyndi McRae on

OMG!!!! It just gets better and BETTER, how can you stand it!!!!!! I am about to catch a flight out myself!!!!! I am soooo jealous! Actually , believe it or not, I am heading off to Burlington VT. for snow- fun ( = NO fun)....Just kidding of course....
I am looking forward to this mini-excursion....But can't help dreamin' about you guys and lusting after your experience! Carry on........

Lauren Chase-Rowell on

Whoa! Amazing plants... it was so cool to see pictures of them. Thank you, Ellie, for so many insights and mentioning of the indigenous life in your explorations and meanderings. The 'horney tree', what the heck? I mean, why would a plant over time create those protuberances?... obviously to protect itself from herbivory. I guess the real question is what would eat it? Something big with really big, crushing, grinding teeth. Something extinct now. The horny tree is a ghost of evolution... no longer living with its counterparts... an anachronism. Caleb, think about this when you are sleeping on remote beaches... just in case there are still a few lurking in the jungles. Ha! Miss you all and love thinking about you taking in so much life and beauty and gusto! Mom xxxoo

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