We wanted to "see" the Dominican Republic and not just from our resort. This was a GREAT way to experience it. To be honest, this was not my first choice. My first choice was the Outback Safari tour which was #1 on Trip Advisor. We were talked into this tour by our United Vacations representative and since it seemed very similar to the Outback Safari tour, had horseback riding (which the Safari tour does not) and we figured he got a little kick back, we helped him out and booked the tour. It was not disappointing. And, to our surprise, we saw the Outback Safari buses take almost exactly the same route!
We consider ourselves blessed to have had Jonathan as a tour guide and Rolando (sp?) as our driver. Jonathan's passion for his country was admirable! He gave us so many great facts about the country and even sang the entire 4 minute Dominican Republic National Anthem. It was inspiring. We always felt safe with Rolando as our driver. The roads are very bumpy and he did a great job!
We got to see so much on this tour. Your vehicle is an open "bus". We sat towards the front and had no problems hearing Jonathan but I know the people in the back had some issues. Probably due to the wind. And, we felt the front was the best place to be on the bumpy roads! Our first stop was at a sugar cane plantation where we got to see how they process sugar cane and also how they roll cigars. The stop at the school was somewhat of a disappointment. I was misled in thinking we actually stop in and see the kids learning but understandably they don't want to disrupt them so we just literally stopped on the road outside of the school and that was that. Someone on our tour brought school supplies for the school which was nice .
The horseback riding was next. To be honest, I've been on horse rides before and it is not the most beautiful ride I've ever been on. And, the horses are not very lively. But, it was fun and something different.
It was incredible how "back country" we were on this excursion. Literally in the middle of nowhere on these bumpy, dusty roads. I'd almost recommend Dramamine if you get motion sick easily. Lunch was provided and it was pretty good. They had a meat selection, rice, spaghetti noodles and sauce. The lunch building overlooked the ziplining but unfortunately we never saw any. The lines looked high though!
We then stopped at "Maria's House" which I thorouoghly enjoyed seeing how they live. Sadly, our camper is almost nicer than the house. However, the backyard is unbeatable. Here we experienced how they harvest and dry cocoa beans (even sampling some ourselves fresh out of the pod). We also got to see how they grind the cocoa beans. Same with the coffee beans. Very interesting. We got to sample whatever they showed us. We were also able to buy some of the products that Maria and her family make -- cinnamon sticks, coffee grounds, cocoa, coconut oil, etc. Beware of the man that hangs out around Maria's house on the road with the snakes around his neck. He's there for photo ops if you are brave.
We enjoyed our stop at Maceo Beach also. It is windier and not as calm on this beach because you are at the Atlantic Ocean -- not the Caribbean. Very beautiful though! My husband attempted boogie boarding (which is free with the tour) but wasn't too successful. Here, they gave us beer or a mixed drink if we wanted it for our ride home.
This was an all day tour which was very interesting! Highly recommend! And, thank you Jonathan for making our experience one we will never forget!
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