Lago Enriquillo

ju10prd

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With the holiday season almost upon us, my thoughts are beginning to focus on a few days travel and one of the places I have always wanted to visit and add to my DR experience is Lago Enriquillo.

Base from where I travel would be a hotel south of Barahona, so I would welcome advice on how best to plan a long day to visit the lake and it's surroundings, and do wonder if a circumvention of the lake from Neiba to La Descubierta to Jimani and Duverge is realistically possible in a day. Or should I be looking at north side and south side long single day trips?

Any advice is welcome.......I have my worn 'Rough Guide to DR' for starters.
 

Matilda

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I have been there and drove all around the lake in a day, but thing have changed due to the rising water. I was not overly impressed driving around it - I think you really need to do the boat trip to see most of the wildlife but the last time I heard, they were not running. You can contact Ecotour Barahona who do most of the eco tours in the area - not to go with them, but just to ask what the current situation is http://www.ecotourbarahona.com/english/tours/eco-tours/lago-enriquillo.html

Personally I much prefer lake Oviedo which is absolutely stunning and there are 2 hour or 4 hour boat rides there.

Matilda
 

ju10prd

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I have been there and drove all around the lake in a day, but thing have changed due to the rising water. I was not overly impressed driving around it - I think you really need to do the boat trip to see most of the wildlife but the last time I heard, they were not running. You can contact Ecotour Barahona who do most of the eco tours in the area - not to go with them, but just to ask what the current situation is http://www.ecotourbarahona.com/english/tours/eco-tours/lago-enriquillo.html

Personally I much prefer lake Oviedo which is absolutely stunning and there are 2 hour or 4 hour boat rides there.

Matilda
Thanks.

The following is posted on Rough Guides website for Lago Enriquillo but maybe this could be out of date..

Habitat for tens of thousands of tropical birds and protected as Parque Nacional Isla Cabritos, Lago Enriquillo is an enormous 42km-long salt-water lake and slightly larger than the island of Manhattan. At the southern base of the Sierra Neiba, the lake sits at the lowest point in the Caribbean, a full 46m below sea level.

You can get on the water with one of the boat tours (daily 7.30am, 8.30am and 1pm; 2hr 30min; RD$300–2000, depending on group size) that depart from the park entrance 4km east of La Descubierta, near the lake’s northwestern tip. You’ll be taken to an enormous bird sanctuary filled with flamingos and hundreds of other tropical birds, which collectively form an unforgettable multicoloured spectacle; also a hit are the American crocodiles that inhabit this part of the lake, though you should take one of the morning tours if you want to see them – guides get into the water and steer them past the boat for a closer view. From there it’s on to the arid, iguana-infested Isla Cabritos in the lake’s centre, a sandy island covered with cactus where the half-tame rhinoceros iguanas crowd around you in the hope of being fed.


Read more: http://www.roughguides.com/destinat...uthwest/lago-enriquillo-around/#ixzz3uyHSiwnw



It does seem that La Descubierta is the place to head for and a full trip around the lake is not needed. My written older Rough Guide says the following:

La Descubierta itself is a rather sleepy desert outpost that contains a small somewhat inexplicable oasis....an oak forest fed by a cold sulphur spring.......There are a couple of short paths both of which lead to Las Barrias the Sulphur spring. Another minor local attraction is Cueva de las Caritas....holds dozens of chiseled Taino faces....it's entrance 6km east of the town on the lake road.

East of La Descubierta......most Dominicans make an afternoon of circling L E though it is hard to understand why; the area is a barren limestone desert and most of the towns are rather bleak.


I have also been following a few videos on You Tube and Laguna del Rincon (Cabral)and the Neiba valley seems worth a drive by.

Perhaps.....Baoruca hotel and north and take highway 46 south of Barahona, visit Laguna del Rincon, cross the valley to Neiba and onto La Decubierta for a lake boat trip etc and return. Of course the road south from Cabral opens the way to the magnetic pole. Maybe another day and yet another day with a boat trip on Lake Olviedo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1VmG3pCjI Laguna Cabral, Neiba Valley and LE
 

Matilda

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I redid the DK Top Ten Guide to the DR this year and put in it that it was only advised to go to Lake Enriquillo with a guided tour as some of the roads were impassable. This is what I replaced the copy about Enriquillo with:

Day trip to Laguna Oviedo
Morning
Set off from Barahona taking the coast road south. Drive slowly along the hairpin bends with high mountains on the right and the Caribbean Sea glistening to the left. Just as you enter Paraiso (see p 111) you will see a turn off to the left which is a lookout point where you can take breathtaking photographs of the pebbled beach way down below. Continue on to Los Patos, site of the shortest river in the world at only 61 meters long. Turn into the parking area on the left and sit at a wooden table by the side of the crystal clear river, full of little fish, and watch it flow lazily into the sea. Here you can have an early lunch of freshly caught fish with crispy plantain chips known as tostones.
After lunch continue on the same coast road all the way to Oviedo.
Afternoon
At the park office on the left, easily spotted, you can take a boat tour of Laguna Oviedo. The tours last for between 2 and 4 hours and cost from US$60 to US$90 per boat. The laguna has more than 24 small islands, homes to heron, stern, golden spoonbill, frigate birds, white egrets, pelicans and of course red flamingos. The island also house colonies of Rhinoceros Iguana.
When the tour is over, retrace your journey back towards Barahona, going past Los Patos and then turn right into another famous beach where the river meets the sea, San Rafael. Here you can bathe in the clear waters of the river, while sipping a rum and coke before heading back to Barahona.

Matilda
 

ben jammin

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Circumnavigated the Lake five years ago. Left early from just south of Barahona and took the southern part first. In my opinion this was a mistake as once you pass the split (where the statue of Enriquillo is) there are a couple of nice towns but then many miles of the same scenery before you reach Jimani. The border crossing was filthy and we couldn't get out of Jimani fast enough.. lol We stopped and had lunch at la Descubierta and a swim in the balniera there, which was most enjoyable. Trouble was we arrived at the park entrance after the boats stopped for the day :( We did enjoy seeing all the rhino iguanas and had quite a photo shoot with them. To sum it up I'd say take the Northern side and forget the other. A nice side trip for the return east would be a visit to San Jose de Ochoa. Beautiful town with friendly folks and very good coffee and food. Hope you get to knock it off your list, it's well worth the visit. Ben
 

robbiee

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I was there 2 years ago (or something like that).
Stayed in Duverge (coming from Barahona) and didnt go further - stopped way before Jimani. Overall that area (Duverge) is poor and Lake itself make it kind of strange...
it gives it a some kind of prehistoric feeling, like from milions years ago ;-) - you may almost expect dinosaurs slowly appearing on the horizon... (nah, i wasnt smoking dominican weed that time)
i agree with what Matilda said - probably to "enjoy" the lake more you need to get to the island located on the lake with some tour...and watch the reptiles and birds and whatever turns you on ;-)
Those lakes in southern - western region are all a little smelly, salty and muddy...ideal for reptiles.... but for humans ? maybe for few hours visit.... whatever you like
I liked San Juan de la Maguana better than San Jose de Ocoa...and the road access is also much easier over there (at least it was like that in 2013....) and there is also nice lake near San Juan ! ;-) the city itself looks kind of developed (as for dominican standards)
Duverge and Lago Enriquillo
and just few photos of Dominican Lakes...http://dominicanfun.net/photo-gallery/lakes-in-dominican-republic/
I dont care that much for iguanas haha... I remember one time when this reptile (lizard-dragon ?) was crossing the road somewhere near Azua when i was driving on 110 cc bike ;-) could be a little problematic for both of us, luckily we both went our own ways
 

ju10prd

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I was there 2 years ago (or something like that).
Stayed in Duverge (coming from Barahona) and didnt go further - stopped way before Jimani. Overall that area (Duverge) is poor and Lake itself make it kind of strange...
it gives it a some kind of prehistoric feeling, like from milions years ago ;-) - you may almost expect dinosaurs slowly appearing on the horizon... (nah, i wasnt smoking dominican weed that time)
i agree with what Matilda said - probably to "enjoy" the lake more you need to get to the island located on the lake with some tour...and watch the reptiles and birds and whatever turns you on ;-)
Those lakes in southern - western region are all a little smelly, salty and muddy...ideal for reptiles.... but for humans ? maybe for few hours visit.... whatever you like
I liked San Juan de la Maguana better than San Jose de Ocoa...and the road access is also much easier over there (at least it was like that in 2013....) and there is also nice lake near San Juan ! ;-) the city itself looks kind of developed (as for dominican standards)
Duverge and Lago Enriquillo
and just few photos of Dominican Lakes...http://dominicanfun.net/photo-gallery/lakes-in-dominican-republic/
I dont care that much for iguanas haha... I remember one time when this reptile (lizard-dragon ?) was crossing the road somewhere near Azua when i was driving on 110 cc bike ;-) could be a little problematic for both of us, luckily we both went our own ways
Thanks for the insight 'robbiee'
 

Dolores1

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The destination Barahona/Pedernales is huge and cannot be done in one or two days. You should separate your outings in Barahona from those in Pedernales. You will need at least two days for each, better if you have more time.

Some suggestions:

When you hit Barahona and Pedernales you are talking about no frills adventure tourism. There is a handful of hotels that offer luxury. You can tell by their room rates of RD$5,000 plus. Otherwise, for your own comfort consider taking a set of your own sheets and pillow, just in case.

Stock up on provisions in Barahona. Check out the Parque Litoral Maria Montez.
If you get in late, suggest you overnight in the town. Have stayed at the Loro Tuerto, they have a good bar, restaurant and small town vibe.

What to see:
Las Caritas. This is on the north side of Enriquillo Lake.
Enriquillo Lake. Largest in the Caribbean. Excursions are not so easy to arrange. Go early, or call EcoTour people as suggested previously. The boat trip to Isla Cabritos is recommended but if possible go as early in the morning as you can. Probably drop by the island entrance to arrange for the boat trip or through EcoTour. Arrange to go as early as possible, as later in the day expect temperatures of 38C+ on the island, so take sunscreen, hats and lots of water and a cooler.
Barahona Panoramic Highway. This is one of the most beautiful in the world. Take time to stop on the road to see the great views and take photos. This is a wow highway.
San Rafael. There is Villa Miriam, the care-keeper will let you in and maybe let you go for a dip. Otherwise, below there are natural pools formed by the rier waters.
Playa Azul. Lovely views and a great place to stop for lunch. This is also a hotel.
El Cachote. This will require more time. You drive up the winding road to where you will enjoy cool temperatures and lovely views. There is a basic eco lodge in this area and trails for hiking. But this is a detour that needs at least 4 hours.
Cueva de la Virgen (Garganta del Diablo). On the road leading to Casa Bonita, this is a worth stop to see this cathedral-like cave with impressive rock walls and gushing waters.
Casa Bonita Zipline. This is one of the most beautiful in the country. Well worth taking it. Casa Bonita Spa. Would combine it with relaxing treatment in the spa that is just where the zipline finishes. This spa is outstanding because it is located right in the jungle. They also use local ingredients.
Polo and the Magnetic Hill. This is another half day excursion because visiting Polo takes you inland. This is the famous point on the road where parked cars travel backwards up a hill on their own.
Los Patos. Back on the Panoramic Highway, drive south and stopover at this parador built by the government for a good fish meal.

Pedernales
Take note that Pedernales is about an hour and a half drive from Barahona.
It is best done separately. To try to tour Pedernales when being based in Barahona is doable, but you will be spending lots of time on the road. Better to split the trip and also stay in Pedernales.
On the road you will see the Parque Eologico Los Cocos, an impressive wind farm. Tours can be arranged, but you will have to contact them previously.
Laguna de Oviedo. Boat excursions take the tourists to observe birds and iguanas in this large lagoon. Best to arrange an excursion for first thing in the morning ? at dawn, or late in the afternoon to see the birds at their best. Otherwise, take note the heat reaches more than 36C+, so bring sunscreen, hats and lots of water.
Hoyo de Pelempito. This is another panoramic drive to a 700-meter drop that goes from cactus to pine forest landscapes in less than half an hour.
Cabo Rojo. White-sanded beach.
Bahia de las Aguilas. This is one of the most famous Dominican beaches. It is now accessible by car, but more scenic by boat. There is a restaurant stop on the way. Take note the beach itself is barren and there is blazing sun and no service on the beach. Bring sunscreen, hats and lots of water.
There are some restaurants in Pedernales where you may be able to get a fresh lobster lunch.

For a list of hotels and their contact telephones, see:
http://dr1.com/directories/Southwest.Barahona.html (two pages of listings)
http://dr1.com/directories/Southwest.Pedernales.html (one page)


Hotel recommendations:

Loro Tuerto
809 524-6600

Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge
Tel: (809) 476-5059
Luxury hotel

Hotel Playazul
Tel (809) 204-8010
Good restaurant

Casa de Tarzan (need 4 wheel drive vehicle)
Tel: (809) 977-4280

Pedernales:
Hostal Dona Chava
Tel 809 524-0332

Hostal D?Oleo Mendez
809 524-0415
 

Trainman33

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Off the loop around the lago is one of those places where it appears as if your car is rolling uphill if you let off the gas.
 

ju10prd

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you mean Polo ? which is around 30 km from the lake ? been there and it didnt work for me
Was that because you drove on a motorbike you think??

I understand it is accessed from the turn on route 46 from Barahona to Jimani at Cabral and you head uphill into the Sierra Baoruco.......there is a place called Polo at the end of a 20km drive but suspect the magnetic pole experience is half way there after La Cueva??
 

robbiee

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I was there, accompanied by Dominican volunteers from Red Cross...They were doing something over there (they had some task to do) as it was Semana Santa...
we put the empty bottle on the road and it didnt work at all - it wasnt going "up". Just like my motorbike or other things...
maybe the problem was that we were all sober...
the place could be find on the road that goes up to the village called "Polo". somewhere in half of the road into there. I don't have the map in front of me ;]
Was that because you drove on a motorbike you think??

I understand it is accessed from the turn on route 46 from Barahona to Jimani at Cabral and you head uphill into the Sierra Baoruco.......there is a place called Polo at the end of a 20km drive but suspect the magnetic pole experience is half way there after La Cueva??
 

Yacine

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and for a more grass roots eco tourism, the women cooperative of La Cienaga offers bed and breakfast, stay with a family in a clean room, specials trails, including coffee plantations, wild cascades and caves in the mountains, the magic larimar mine, a boat tour with the fisherman, taste of forgotten mountains ethnic gastronomy, hand crafts with recycled and natures materials and much more. It is 100% owned by the women community group that will preserve the environment if they get 100% of that income from concious visitors .. See www.guanaventuras.com and the 2012 catalog at http://www.slideshare.net/Yacine/catalogoguanventurasecoturismo2011
 

ju10prd

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and for a more grass roots eco tourism, the women cooperative of La Cienaga offers bed and breakfast, stay with a family in a clean room, specials trails, including coffee plantations, wild cascades and caves in the mountains, the magic larimar mine, a boat tour with the fisherman, taste of forgotten mountains ethnic gastronomy, hand crafts with recycled and natures materials and much more. It is 100% owned by the women community group that will preserve the environment if they get 100% of that income from concious visitors .. See www.guanaventuras.com and the 2012 catalog at http://www.slideshare.net/Yacine/catalogoguanventurasecoturismo2011
Yacine thanks for an excellent link for all visitors to Bohoruco oriental. They offer some very interesting excursions.

Have you had personal experience of their excursions and hospitality?
 
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ju10prd

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Los Patos and Laguna Oviedo

I redid the DK Top Ten Guide to the DR this year and put in it that it was only advised to go to Lake Enriquillo with a guided tour as some of the roads were impassable. This is what I replaced the copy about Enriquillo with:

Day trip to Laguna Oviedo
Morning
Set off from Barahona taking the coast road south. Drive slowly along the hairpin bends with high mountains on the right and the Caribbean Sea glistening to the left. Just as you enter Paraiso (see p 111) you will see a turn off to the left which is a lookout point where you can take breathtaking photographs of the pebbled beach way down below. Continue on to Los Patos, site of the shortest river in the world at only 61 meters long. Turn into the parking area on the left and sit at a wooden table by the side of the crystal clear river, full of little fish, and watch it flow lazily into the sea. Here you can have an early lunch of freshly caught fish with crispy plantain chips known as tostones.
After lunch continue on the same coast road all the way to Oviedo.
Afternoon
At the park office on the left, easily spotted, you can take a boat tour of Laguna Oviedo. The tours last for between 2 and 4 hours and cost from US$60 to US$90 per boat. The laguna has more than 24 small islands, homes to heron, stern, golden spoonbill, frigate birds, white egrets, pelicans and of course red flamingos. The island also house colonies of Rhinoceros Iguana.
When the tour is over, retrace your journey back towards Barahona, going past Los Patos and then turn right into another famous beach where the river meets the sea, San Rafael. Here you can bathe in the clear waters of the river, while sipping a rum and coke before heading back to Barahona.

Matilda
I am just back from a couple of days visiting south of Barahona and decided to visit Laguna Oviedo after tour report above, and for that many thanks.

Firstly Los Patos. The river is indeed longer than 61 meters now. It finds it way to the sea behind the pebble dunes right up at the point leading to Paraiso, and that is a fair treck walking on the smaller pebbles. Being the weekend the river ponds were absolutely full with visitors from all over the country. There was one bus from La Romana. For visitors and bathers the tourist attraction has been set up really well, with good parking, board walks all around and onto the beach with pergolas, and several well constructed vendors pavilions selling food and drink to the mass of tables set under the trees bordering the river ponds. Typically Dominican with families and all enjoying music, drink, food, and the cool clear river water. The sea on Saturday was calm and very swimmable and at the foot of the pebble dunes is a very coarse sand. There are occasional sandy spots along the beach. But the overall vista is exceptional with a turquoise sea out some 100 meters even when the rollers were pounding in on the Saturday. As you say taking in the views either approaching Los Patos from the north or the south are spectacular.
We had fish prepared Sunday away from the crowds in the small shack of a restaurant a short distance to the south of the river where the fisherman's boats sit. I noticed this was attracting some of the Santo Domingo folk in smart cars. The fish was cooked on a coal fire to absolute perfection and there was a hint of oregano amongst the perfect texture. The salad was exceptional too along with chillingly cold beer. I would recommend this place to anyone and the local couple and family who run it deserve credit for keeping it simple in such surroundings.
We also took lunch at a small Italian place in the town. Unassuming but he knows how to prepare a simple cheap pasta. Stayed at the cheap but very simple Italian run hotel which was full and turning away people Saturday.

We visited Laguna Oviedo on the Sunday and the entrance is as you say signposted just before you enter the town. We decided to do the full lake tour with guide and that costs 3500rd for a two to two and half hour trip on the dirty looking greeny brown lake (there are several options posted and priced at the reception centre). There is a 100rd per person park fee and for that you get a green 'AI' wrist band. The yola we took had a canopy and frankly as he was whipping across the lake firstly to the islands, the wind in your face and very salty water splashing you in a stiff breeze made you feel cool.

If you are into bird watching this place will be heaven. If not you might be very impressed. (If you only come to DR for the other variety forget this place.) Our guide was very helpful and was pointing out all the birds with the help of a plastic card givig their names. He also offered use of his binoculars. One island has no birds and not surprisingly it is because it is home to rather large inquisitive iguanas who apparently have a likely for 'huevos'.

The flamingoes are found at the other end of the lake near the point where a river enters the laguna. There were two groups. The first of about 100 birds were not camera shy and went about thee elegant wading as out boat captain pushed us quietly towards them. Only ten were pink. Flamingoes apparently get the pink colour from the algae they eat and Oveidos flamingoes have taken a liking to shrimp from the river entering nearby. The second group were almost all a whiter shade.

The lake is very shallow with plenty of weed so the boat captain has to contantly clear his propellers durig the trip and weaved between stick markers he and his colleagues have placed around the lake.

For us the visit was well worth it.

Our guide who works for the tourism ministry was very helpful and informative and offered his services for several other excursions discussed. He told us that there were many more flamingoes to be found at Lagos Salado anDulce to the south but access was more difficult by pre arranged four hour horse trip. He also told us of a clear water pond in amongst the woods a few kilometers on the way back to Los Cocos and we found it with a bunch of locals cooling off for the weekend.

The new wind turbines at Parqueo Eolico are sited on hgher ground way up into the hills beyond the existing wind farms at Los Cocos and it is an impressive sight.

One final point to mention on our return to the city today was that we found the cooperative at La Cienega and bought one of each of the five marmalades they make: Mango, Guanabana, Chinola/Guineo, Naranga Amarga and Guayaba. Will be trying these over the coming days.