Dominican Republic Attractions - Salto El Limon
The waterfall itself is about 180 feet (about 54 meters) tall, and it is spectacular
The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. In 2010, more than 4 million tourists, mostly from North America and Western Europe, visited this tropical paradise. The island has so much to offer, but it has recently begun to earn the well-deserved reputation as a haven for all things green. Ecotourism in the Dominican Republic is on the up. What is ecotourism? Eco tourists are those who travel the globe, looking for the best-kept secrets of the natural world, in a sustainable manner. Let’s have a look at one of those secrets: the Salto El Limón.
In Dominican Spanish, a ‘salto’ is a waterfall. What make Dominican waterfalls so spectacular? Well, unlike some of the larger waterfalls of the Unites States, Dominican waterfalls are smaller in size, which means that you can get up close and personal with them. Also, because of the tropical climate, the water is generally warmer, just right for swimming.
What makes Salto El Limón in Samaná so special?
Samaná is located on the Eastern tip of the island of Hispaniola. Recent road construction by the Dominican government has made this region more accessible than before and has let the outside world see the hidden beauty of this little peninsula, allowing it to become one of the most beautiful attractions in the Dominican Republic.
Halfway down the small highway leading from the village of Las Terrenas to the larger city of Samaná, there are four small communities that have set up entry points in order to get to the waterfall. Each of these small communities (named Rancho Español, Arroyo Surdido, El Café and El Limón) has worked together with the Dominican government to provide a safe and exciting experience for foreign visitors. At each community, you will find trained guides, who will make your trip more knowledgeable and enjoyable. There is also the option of going on horseback, if you like!
It is not recommended that tourists accept offers of help from guides that are not part of the community program. Why not? Well, not everyone has received the same high quality of training as the official guides, and that might even lead to a dangerous situation.
Public transportation is available along the route which passes by these four communities, although a taxi driver from Samaná or Las Terrenas would very happy to take you to one of the entry points (for a fee, of course).
Once you have arrived at the entry point of your choosing and have made contact with a guide, what can you expect? Well, because the purpose of the hike is to enjoy nature, you will not see any shops set up along the way, so bring plenty of water along to drink. Although the horses will take you most of the way in, you will have to climb down to the bottom of the waterfall towards the end of the trail. Most people find this to be quite a physical exertion, so make sure that you are in good enough shape.
The waterfall itself is about 180 feet (about 54 meters) tall, and it is spectacular. The powerful column of water comes crashing down into a huge pool, providing a refreshing way to cool off from your hike. Although you will probably want to wear pants for the horse ride, be sure to bring your bathing suit along to have a good swim!
After you have had plenty of time to relax and to enjoy the water, you will climb back up to the trail and head back to the ‘parada’ (stop). Along the way, your guide might offer to show you some other interesting sites, like the nearby caves. If you take him up on the offer, you won’t regret it.
What are some tips to make your trip to Salto El Limón more enjoyable?
Well, first off, dress appropriately for the Dominican Republic weather. If it is raining, bring a hat and some good shoes for climbing on the slippery trails. If it is hot, bring sunscreen and lots of water to drink. Most of the paradas offer meals for the hungry tourists returning from a hike, and these can be a great way to experience more of the Dominican cuisine and culture. Use common sense, though. Some foreigners feel ill after eating uncooked vegetables, so it might be a good idea to stick with the ‘arroz con habichuelas’ (beans and rice) served with ‘pollo frito’ (fried chicken). This plate is often called the ‘Dominican flag’.
While you will most likely pay a flat price to your guides, be sure to give them a good tip, especially if they have been knowledgeable and helpful on your journey. If you find someone that you really like, recommend them to your friends and ask for them the next time your visit.
A trip to the Dominican Republic is unlike any other vacation. The focus is always on nature and people. On this island, you can find the best of both!
Main Image by Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism