We followed up our day of concho riding with a trip down the falls ... literally!
We couldn't leave the Dominican Republic without visiting the 27 Charcos, a set of 27 natural waterfalls in Rio Damajagua that requires hiking uphill and then jumping and/or sliding down a set of "natural waterslides".
To avoid the $70 per person group tour that the other suckers, um .. tourists, were paying in the resort lobby we took the same local bus that we'd taken the day before for our concho ride to Luperon. About 25 minutes later we were dropped off on the side of the main road and walked a short distance down a dirt path to the entrance. We arrived just as the tour group from our resort was unloading in the parking lot.
When touring the falls, you have a choice of climbing up to the 7th waterfall, the 12th waterfall or even higher up to the 27th waterfall during the rainy season. Since it was considered the "dry season", the falls were only open to the 12th waterfall. If we'd taken the more expensive tour offered at the resort, we'd only be offered the 7 waterfalls because the tour is limited on time. However, since we were on our own time we paid the extra buck and chose the 12th waterfall. We paid $8 a person, plus $1 each way for the bus ride ... I'd say $60 per person less than the resort's tour is a huge savings!
With our small entrance fee, our group of four was provided with life jackets, helmets and two local guides ... one to lead us and one to stay behind us. We wondered how they can make a living with our fee of $8 bucks each! Our guides appeared to be in their 20's, were very friendly, and were definitely getting their daily exercise. The tour began with walking over a suspended bridge ...
Once we started hiking up the very steep trails towards the 12th waterfall, we understood why we needed tour guides. We were in the middle of a forest, and there's no way we would have found the falls on our own.
After about 30 minutes of hiking uphill (and taking a couple of breaks to catch our breath), we walked into a small stream that eventually led to big, smooth boulders and waterfalls. I had to ask our guides how many tours they usually did in a week. They said that they worked every day if the weather allowed them to, and they sometimes did two tours a day during the busier rainy season ... impressive! The guy in the pic below with the red helmet is one of our guides ..
Gorgeous, and the water felt great!
Our first fall required sitting down and sliding down some rocks ... now I understand the need for the helmets! Here's a quick little video that our guide took for us ...
The pic below is just after sliding down ...
We walked the crevices towards the next waterfall ... and our guide decided to hide behind a rock and scare our daughter. He got me jumping too! How did our son-in-law get a picture?!
The next fall required jumping ... or going the "chicken's way" and climbing down some wooden steps. Note to self ... don't watch a 20/20 show about the dangers of cliff jumping just days before you go on vacation. Yes, I took the chicken's way out ... all I could think about was that paralyzed guy in a wheelchair. The kids jumped!
We eventually slid our way down the falls and arrived at the bottom.
If you're ever in the Dominican Republic, this is another "must do". These falls were the best we'd ever seen, plus you could actually slide and jump off of them .. a ton of fun! The hike uphill was definitely worth it. The tour took about 3 hours, which was just about right for us. If you want to do all 27 falls, plan on going during the winter months ... and plan on a full day.
Our two guides were great, and we were glad to be able to give them each a good tip with some of the money that we saved by doing the tour on our own.
After a brief wait for the local bus, we were back at the resort for an afternoon of relaxing after all that exercise. We finished the night off with reservations at the resort's seafood restaurant. I had grilled scallops and shrimp ... so good! This was our last night at the resort, as we'd be boarding a plane the next afternoon ... we hated the thought of leaving the island. We tried to drown our thoughts with our new friends at the pool bar ...
Ken swears the guy on his left is related to Obama ... I do see the resemblance. The guy on Ken's right is holding up the local "poison" ... mamajuana. Mamajuana is a blend of tree bark, rum, red wine and honey. Be careful with this stuff! I took a few sips and it's strong ... reminded me of my college days and "Everclear".
I'm still working on getting pictures from our day of white water rafting, so stay tuned. The Dominican Republic fun ain't over yet.
Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!