The Dominican Republic has 16 national parks, created to avoid the fate of 98 percent of Haiti, and while funds are woefully inadequate for maintenance and environmental enforcement, it is a start, and a little reforestation work has begun.
Noteworthy are adjoining Armando Bermudez and Jose del Carmen Ramirez National Parks, together covering 590 square miles (1,530 km2) in the Cordillera Central which include the Caribbean’s highest mountains. These give rise to 14 rushing rivers, important for agriculture and electric power but also including several floral and faunal life zones, from tropical rain forest to alpine, thus home to many of the island’s 254 bird species. These include such beautiful rarities as Hispaniola parrots, trogons, woodpeckers and lizard-cuckoos, palm chats (talkative national birds), rufous-throated solitaires, and greater Antillean pewees, plus mongeese and (introduced) wild boars.
Spectacular (but occasionally hazardous) trails with simple cabins (first-come-first-served) attract hikers from around the world (guides are required). Helpful ranger stations are near the start of five major trails—at La Cienaga, Sabaneta, Mata Grande, Las Lagunas, and Constanza (the parks have no roads). Accommodations and information are available in nearby Jarabacoa.
ALSO OF INTEREST
Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve, montane and oceanic forest with some of the island’s best birding (Antillean euphonias, black-crowned palm tanagers, narrow-billed todies, white-winged warblers), reachable by spectacular (4WD) drive from San Jose to Constanza, then on Highway 41 a short way into the forest.
Isla Cabritos National Park in saltwater Lake Enriquillo (144 feet/44 m below sea level) has a large American crocodile population plus 62 bird species including green mango hummingbirds, Antillean nighthawks, burrowing owls, and many American flamingos, three hours’ drive west of Santo Domingo.
Sierra de Bahoruco is a forested highland with 52 percent of Dominican Republic’s 300 orchids plus many bird species.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC as well as...
Armando Bermudez National Park
Jose del Carmen Ramirez National Park
Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve
Isla Cabritos National Park
Sierra de Bahoruco
More about the Reserves in Dominican Republic
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