Overall, Rancho Wendy is not for the high maintenance traveler but more for someone who is looking for an adventure. It is located in a semi-rural area (people live all around you) and the accommodations are definitely roughing it but that fits the price. The people are nice but it is really helpful (if not essential to speak Spanish), and getting to the hostel can be an adventure. Plus, MAKE SURE OTHER PEOPLE WILL BE THERE WHEN YOU VISIT.
It is located approximately 4 hours from Santo Domingo using public transportation (more on that below) in a semi-rural area in the middle of the country. Unfortunately, it is only semi-rural because people live everywhere in the Dominican Republic. Therefore, if you are envisioning (as I was) a pristine backpackers in the middle of no where, your dream will not come true. Instead, it is located along a rural road, adjacent to lots of other shacks, and a little market. It is near a river and has a stream running through it. Unfortunately the river is used for bathing and people allow their trash to run into it so it is not that clean. Also, the stream flowing through the compound sounds nice but looks really brown. However, that might simply be because of sediment.
The grounds itself includes a number of 'cabins', a pool table, TVs, and access to the internet. In addition, the staff will be nice enough to make you any meal. We stayed in one of the $15 cabins. It was nice enough but had no windows. The bed has a mosquito net (which was not needed while we were there) and the room had a couple of guests (in the form of spiders). Considering this was a $15 a night place, I think that was ok. The one really strange thing about the 'cabin' was that the shower head literally was over the toilet seat. Therefore, if you are planning on showering, I would suggest upgrading to one of the larger cabins that has a more spacious shower. In addition, there is no natural light in the cabin. My wife said if felt like she was in a coffin but I think it is ok as long as you understand what you are getting yourself into.
I suggest speaking Spanish if you come here because only the owner (who is very nice) speaks English but he is not even there year round. Otherwise, the owner's Dominican wife and other staff only speak Spanish.
When we visited there were absolutely no other visitors. I suggest ensuring other people are there when you visit because while it might be fun and nice to rough it, a little camaraderie makes it all the more fun. In addition, hiking alone with a guide is not as much fun as with new and interested people.
The transportation to the Rancho can be very interesting. Based on the hostel's directions, we attempted to take a private bus service to the closest city. Unfortunately, very few people in the Dominican Republic actually use private bus companies and instead utilize local shuttles that cram in 20 more people than they should. Therefore, when we were looking for the bus company no one could point us in the right direction. Instead, we got directed to these small shuttles that would have made for an interesting experience but do not drop you off at the place designated by the Rancho and are a little uncomfortable with backpacks. So after looking for two hours (it felt like a lot more0 in central Santo Domingo for the bus stop we took the four hour drive to Bonao. That was relatively uneventful except that we were transferred to another bus stop until heading out of town. Once arriving in Bonao there will be cab drivers who will take you to Rancho Wendy. There is no need to even tell them where you are going because the only reason white people with backpacks go to town is to head there.
Overall, I think this place can be fun. It was not for us but I think a little camaraderie over the surroundings would have made it a lot more fun.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We offer the unique opportunity to see and experience the Dominican Republic way of life close up. We are a basic ranch that caters to the adventurous traveler who enjoys basic accommodations and rustic lifestyle surrounded by the proximity of nature. Minutes from the city of Bonao and only 1 hour from Santo Domingo. Make our affordable mountain retreat a part of your next travel destination. We offer 15 rooms, home cooked meals, a shallow but clean pool, internet access, pool table and adventure tours. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Rancho Wendy Hotel Bonao