Amazing. At the foot of the tropical rainforest of which the coat mist envelops the trees, the Caribbean sea swallows in large rolls the pebble beach ; they tremble in the surf, steaming foam. A sign reads: “Paraiso”. “Paradise” is the name of the village that gave him that once the Haitians, whose country is distant only a few kilometers behind the sierra de Bahoruco, either the channel of the Saddle on the side of Haiti. All the shades of blue of the larimar are in this shore’s wild south-west of the dominican Republic. The mineral stone endemic to the region seems to have absorbed all the colors of the rivers rush to the ocean, the mountains pierced with caves and waterfalls of the provinces of Bahoruco and Barahona. “This is good, here, is that you can take a swim in the sea and is desalinated in the river,” says Carlos, our guide, originally from South-West to be proud of and so different from the tourist resort of Punta Cana.
In a style cottage tropical, Casa Bonita there are four suites in the heart of the jungle. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE
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Seven rivers take their source in the forest of Cachote to supply the coastal cities below. And as “the shortest river in the world – 500 metres – is located in Los Patos”, boasts Carlos, who precedes us on the site. A fresh water, cool and limpid springs of wood, form an amazing lagoon in front of the white pebble and the ocean. Los Patos: a spot of the weekend for families in the dominican republic, furnished with tables and chairs, colored plastic. All around, huts full of stickers bearing the image of Christ and spitting merengue offer a “fast-food” local. One can imagine the scene festive. We came in the morning. Too early: the place was still littered with detritus. Difficult to understand that you may as well defile an enchanting nature. This saddens our guide who has been coming here for twenty years, stopping as soon as it can in a jewel of hospitality tropical: Casa Bonita.
“Juan Barahona won a battle in obtaining more extensive rights for the Indians. But he lost the war, because this people has disappeared”
To 197 miles from Saint-Domingue, it is much more than a lovely home: an eco-lodge with ten-eight deluxe rooms of 33 square meters, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Shelter built with local materials, coral stone, thatched roofs and palm trees, it looks like a medley of birds ‘ nests. Most of the rooms dominate the treetops. But some are real cabins of wood in the jungle, round like tree trunks and whose bay windows open out on to the river. An incredible experience of bathing in the forest.
We rode three hours from the capital to reach this address isolated in us believing in it alone. But that was counting without the swarm of instagrammeurs that has arisen, made of selfies in the fabulous infinity pool that merges with the horizon, and then on cushions of cream and green as the skin of the mango, the restaurant’s thatched-roof open on three sides. The swarm dissipated as it came.
We took the time, on the contrary, to appreciate the beautiful story of this family-run property in the dominican, former summer home of the Schiffino transformed into the hotel ethics and chic in order to promote tourism in the region. A large bowl of oxygen and chlorophyll. A culinary journey also, thanks to the curiosity of the young argentine chef, Lucas Nunez (29 years old), which offers fusion cuisine from ingredients from the shore and from the organic garden. His ceviche of octopus, the manner of his mentor, the superstar of the gastronomy, peruvian Gaston Acurio, with banana chips, is to fall to the ground.
A cottage facing the sea with swimming pool on the balcony. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE miniature Continent
the Magic of the sunrise over the jungle that covers the mountain. Fullness of the dawn humming birds. In the distance, the national park culminates at 2 367 meters. All around extends a huge reserve of biosphere Unesco, which runs along the coast from the port city of Santa Cruz de Barahona. Its name comes from the Spanish Juan Barahona. Allied to the Taino Indians who inhabited the island of Hispaniola with the arrival of the conquistadors, he sided in 1496 behind the colonial administrator Francisco Roldan who had rebelled against Bartolomé Columbus, brother of Christopher, founded the city of Santo Domingo. “He won a battle in obtaining more extensive rights for the Indians. But he lost the war, because this people has disappeared,” said Carlos, our guide. It was not until 1802 that Barahona will be officially founded by Toussaint Louverture, general of haiti who drove out of the region to the French.
“We see a lot of iguanas here, and also sélénodontes, an animal endemic to our island with a long snout”
The panel “Paraiso” boasts the benefits of Aeolus: the first park of wind power production in the country, the Parque Los Cocos, is located 23 kilometres. It is a real attraction on the road down to the peninsula of Pedernales. The huge masts of metal create a striking contrast in the sugar cane plantations, but also the controversy among the lovers of birds. Those are concerns for the tens of endemic species among the three hundred and ten well known in the island, the piculet of the west Indies, the barn swallow golden, merle of the Saddle, The konichon dominican, or even the amazon of Hispaniola, in danger.
The proponents have understood the tourism potential of the region. Vast projects hoteliers stretch now on the sea front not far from Casa Bonita. One, titled ” La Perla del Sur, will occupy a part of the shoreline. But when we’re there past was invaded by sargassum. The country has taken to arms-the body in the fight against this red alga and a foul stench that threatens the popular beaches of the west Indies.
The culmination of the paradise is on the other side of the peninsula, in Cabo Rojo, along the road 44 that no one here knows under this name. Through the glass we see a line of houses with traditional slats, colorful, fishermen trap lobsters, cows in the pasture overlooking the sea. Suddenly, the driver turns to the left. There is no sign indicating that is there the lagoon of Oviedo. This lake is hypersaline is separated from the ocean by a thin strip of sand wide from the 800 metres. His mud nourishes the skin. It is populated with ibis, storks, spoonbills and pink flamingos. But the air is responsible for a nasty smell of sulphur. It gives the engine. In a few kilometers of agricultural land have given way to savannah.
The Rancho Tipico, in the bay of eagles, Bahia de la Aguilas. Eric Martin / Le Figaro Magazine
Carlos is amazed of the different ecosystems. “This country is a continent in miniature!”, is says it as if he discovered it for the first time. Aloe vera, cactus, acacia trees… The landscape now evokes the Texas, Arizona. “We see a lot of iguanas here, and also sélénodontes, an animal endemic to our island with a long snout,” he said. The sun darts its rays. “I caution you not to go relieve yourself here,” warns Carlos. Under the sun, the fruit of the cactus burst and I’ve already seen their quills crash as arrows in the skin of the buttocks of the unfortunate tourists. However these arrows, once inside, open like harpoons. The withdraw is a true torment.”
Soon, we leave the road. The adventure takes the form of a bad track in red laterite and stony. An aerodrome empty, adjacent to a small deserted harbour. Welcome to Cabo Rojo. There’s nothing there. No noise at all. A big cargo rusted, failed in water, frozen. “We arrive soon, Cueva de las Aguilas is less than 10 kilometres”, reassures Carlos. Away from it all, two glamping home: Eco del Mar and Rancho Tipico. We choose the second, more camping than glamorous but the atmosphere more friendly. And we do not sleep. Lenin, who serves us an exquisite recipe of fish to local, explains that the address exists in the last fifteen years, because it was “the most beautiful beach of the country”. But this is not the one that amazes us, just there, at our feet. This end of the world is experiencing another end.
In the extreme south-west of the peninsula of Pedernales, which is attached to Saint-Domingue there are many millions of years, it is necessary to take a small boat to fund flat to discover a geological wonder: the marine area of the national park of Jaragua. The water by the color of an emerald with glints of blue. It navigates between the jagged rocks flooded with light and all spiky cactus. Their rounded shapes are spectacular: the “carjouco” is huge and right, the”alpargata” evokes a sneaker, the “juaçaba” is the one in which the guide told us to watch out for. The name of this eden is Bahia de las Aguilas, a bay of the eagles which brightened pelicans, egrets and frigates. Behind the forest of rocks, the time suspends its flight when the boat leaves us a few hours all alone in the cove white and soft where it comes from die sea.
Air France operates a direct flight per week and two weekly flights with a stopover in Punta Cana at the destination of Saint-Domingue, starting in Paris. From 550 € the round trip in eco class. Tel.: 36 54 and airfrance.fr
STAY One of the suites along the river in the forest of Casa Bonita, on the road from Barahona to Bahoruco. ERIC MARTIN/LE FIGARO MAGAZINE
Between Barahona and Bahoruco, Casa Bonita . A 30-minute drive from the international airport of Barahona, and a 40-min flight from Santo Domingo, a Small Luxury Hotel and spa for lovers of nature, between the sea and the river in the middle of mountains covered with forest. Eighteen rooms and suites way cottages tropical. All have balconies with views of the trees and the ocean, without vis-à-vis. From € 189 for two with breakfast. Five suites including a spectacular swimming pool on its balcony facing the sea. The other four are in the forest, with an outdoor shower and a private jacuzzi. From 260 €. Tel.: +1 809 540 5908 and casabonitadr.com.
To Cueva de Las Aguilas, Rancho Tipico , a glamping rustic and simple with a restaurant of fish and shellfish reported by fishermen in Pedernales. Tents for 2 to 6 people. From 74 € with sea views. Boat rental with driver-from 61 € on the basis of 6 persons. Tel.: +1 809 753 8058 and hotels-republique-dominicaine.com/ranch-1515-cueva-de-las-aguilas-pedernales
Eco del Mar , a glamping chic. From 77 €. Tel.: +1 829 576 7740 and ecodelmar.com.do.
Office of tourism of the dominican Republic to Paris (phone: 01 43 12 91 91 and godominicanrepublic.com). Please note: the prices indicated, it is necessary to add the 28 % taxes.
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