Bateyes and Mountain Air

A cultural immersion and service experience in the heart of the Dominican Alps

Welcome to the Dominican Republic! After landing in Santo Domingo, make the rural Dominican Republic your home for a week as you experience daily life in two of the country's most impoverished areas. You will work hard, but also enjoy time taking in the beautiful landscape of the both the mountains and the coast, all while immersing yourself in the laid-back and friendly culture of the island.

Life in the Bateyes

In San Pedro de Macoris, you will work and live in the bateyes de este.  Bateyes are communities of mostly Haitian workers that have come to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugar cane fields. While they were traditionally comprised of migrant male workers, many have now brought families over and established permanent settlements.  Unfortunately, these communities are cut off from many of the public health and education resources of the country. In the bateyes you will see some of the lowest standards of living in the country, often lacking running water, electricity, or proper infrastructure. With Rustic Pathways, you will work to improve living standards through local infrastructure and agriculture projects.

Soak up the Sun

After your hard work in the bateyes, spend a day relaxing on one of the Dominican Republic's beautiful beaches. Join the locals in a game of beach volleyball, swim in the crystal clear water, or wander through the colorful beachfront shops.  End the day with Caribbean sunset as you enjoy a typical Dominican meal with your peers and guides.

Service in the Mountains

Next you will head up to Jarabacoa, home of the “Dominican Alps,” to experience a different kind of rural life. Here you will take part in service projects with locals that will increase the standard of living in their communities. Projects may include building a community center, irrigating agricultural fields, or constructing an aqueduct to bring running water to communities for the first time. Learn about the lack of educational opportunities available for many children in these communities and work with your fellow peers to create fun and instructive activities for the local kids.

The City that Columbus Built

Arrive back into Santo Domingo, a city of many firsts. Tour through the oldest colonial city in the Americas and check out the sites of the first university, cathedral, and hospital in the Americas. Learn about the rich history of the Dominican Republic as you meander through 500-year-old cobblestone streets. Visit the lighthouse dedicated to Columbus on the 500th anniversary of his first voyage, where his remains can now be found.


Day 1 (Saturday)

Arrive at Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) in Santo Domingo where your Rustic Pathways staff will be awaiting for you outside the arrivals hall after customs. Take a short bus ride to the volunteer facility, with dorm style rooms, communal bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and multiple social spaces. Get settled in, enjoy dinner, and have an orientation to your program. Learn about the service projects you will work on, the organizations we partner with, the communities you will visit, and the nuances of Dominican culture.

Day 2 - Day 3 (Sunday - Monday)

After breakfast, learn more about the area as you take a tour of one of the batey communities. Once familiar with the area, you will commence your service project. Your projects could involve construction, English classes, agricultural work, educational workshops, and facilitation of activities for the local children. After service each day, enjoy a game of pick-up baseball with the local kids and head back to the base house for dinner. In the evenings we will lead discussions about the current issues affecting the bateyes. We will invite speakers from local non-profits and organizations to give insight into what is being done to address these issues.

Day 4 (Tuesday)

Wrap up your service projects in the Bateyes this morning, then spend the rest of the day enjoying the Dominican coast, relaxing on the beach and playing in the ocean. You will also visit a collection of caves with paintings that date back to the days of the Tainos and learn about the earliest inhabitants of the island. Return to your base house for a shower and group dinner in the evening.

Day 5 (Wednesday)

Enjoy a group breakfast at your base house, and then pack up for a trip into the interior of the Dominican Republic. After saying goodbye to your new friends, you will get on a bus headed to Jarabacoa; a mountain town nestled in the Cordillera Central (a three and a half hour ride). After lunch and a bit of time to settle down you will receive an introduction to the ranch and to the service projects you will be working on. You will begin your service projects in the afternoon, and then head back to the ranch for dinner. At the ranch you will have access to a pool, basketball court, ping-pong table, and a billiards table.

Day 6 (Thursday)

After breakfast at the ranch, return to your service projects. Wrap-up your work in the mid-afternoon, then choose between an afternoon at the pool or an optional activity such as rafting, horseback riding, or a high ropes course. ($50, $20 and $16 respectively). Have dinner with the group and get a good night’s sleep for your last day of service.

Day 7 (Friday)

Today you will finish your service projects in the communities around Jarabacoa. Spend your morning working and then have a special good-bye activity with the community in the afternoon. Enjoy your last night back at the ranch and then spend some time as a group discussing your activities from the past few days, how these affected the communities you worked in, how they affected you, and how you can take the service home with you.

Day 8 (Saturday)

After breakfast, board the bus and head out of the mountains and down to Santo Domingo’s colonial zone. This is a UNESCO world heritage site that is home to the first cathedral, hospital, and university in the New World. This will also be a good time for souvenir shopping. After an afternoon walking around the colonial zone, you will head over to a typical Dominican restaurant for a special last dinner and dance show before your flight back to the United States.

An Important Note about Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

Packing List

PLEASE NOTE – Rustic Pathways will not be responsible for ANY lost or stolen items. During travel it is common for items to be lost or stolen so please bring only items you are prepared to part with.


Carry-On Luggage:

-A small backpack is the best carry-on bag

  • Passport and Wallet *Travel Wallet that can be hidden under clothing is a good idea.
  • Photo Copy of Passport (2 additional photocopies should be carried in checked luggage)
  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and Pens
  • Good Book (trade with buddies)
  • Water bottle (Nalgene)
  • Medications (Must alert staff)
  • 35mm camera, digital camera, and/or disposable camera – the Dominican Republic is a wet environment so please have a good case that keeps your camera safe from elements like rain and dirt. Be aware that cameras can easily get broken, lost, or stolen in the Dominican Republic so only bring a camera which you are prepared to part with.
  • Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the new carry on regulations of the TSA:

Checked Luggage:

-A medium sized duffel bag or large backpack work best. Wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can easily be carried like a duffle over rough terrain.

Clothing Items - Please bring at least a few outfits that can get dirty or destroyed for service work or adventure activities.

  • 3 long pants (1 pair of lightweight pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair old jeans for service)
  • Underwear (8 to 9)
  • Socks (7 to 8) - Lightweight quick dry athletic socks like Smartwool are the best.
  • T-Shirts and tank tops and sports shirts (6-8 cotton t-shirts + 1-2 quick dry shirts like capilene or polypropylene) approximately 10 t-shirts total
  • 1 light sweater/sweatshirt
  • Rainproof Jacket (1)
  • Shorts (3-5 pairs of shorts) -Please be conservative regarding length
  • Swim Suit (1 or 2)
  • Athletic Shoes - Shoes that dry quickly, you can hike short distances in and protect your feet are best. Shoes will get muddy and dirty so don’t get too attached to your footwear.
  • Sandals and/or Flip-Flops – a pair of strap on sandals that will not fall off in water like Tevas or Chaco brand sandals work great, especially for activities like white water and for swimming at certain beaches. Flip flops are also very useful. **For safety reasons, flip flops cannnot be worn during rafting, and thus it is encouraged that students bring some sort of water shoes if they plan on participating in this activity.
  • Hat for Sun
  • 1 towel (NOT white) - Large travel towels are great!
  • One nice casual outfit for Final Dinner (not too fancy or bulky)
  • 1 pair of pajamas


(Please pack all items that could leak in a PLASTIC or ZIPLOCK bag)

  • Shampoo and Soap (preferably with little or no fragrance because of bugs) *you can find non-fragrance and biodegradable soap at natural food stores and outdoor adventure stores. Dr. Brauner’s and Mountain Suds soaps are both good.
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush
  • Sunscreen (2 bottles of strong Sunscreen)
  • Insect Repellant (1-2 bottles 35% DEET)
  • Anti-itch Cream (1 Benedryl Anti-itch Gel works great)
  • Hand Sanitizer (1 or 2 small bottles per week)
  • Contact lenses and accompanying paraphernalia PLASTIC BAG

Additional Items

  • Flashlight/Headlamp w/ Extra Batteries (to read at night or in the case of power outages)
  • Watch or Clock with an Alarm
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags (2) *for packing wet and dirty clothes/shoes
  • Large (one gallon) Ziplock© Freezer Bags (4)
  • Small Personal First Aid Kit (our guides will have comprehensive first aid kits on hand, but having a small personal kit is always helpful)
  • Band aids
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • Medical Tape
  • Moleskin or preferred blister care
  • Preferred Mild Pain Reliever
  • Antihistamine (Benedryl or preferred type)
  • 2 Non-adherent, sterile dressing
  • 2 Gauze dressing
  • 5-8 After Cuts and Scrapes Wipes

*Note: See the following link for ideas on small, personal first aid kits: Dom&kit=302&kitNO=0125-0292

Optional Items:

  • Spanish/English dictionary
  • Deck of Cards
  • Picture of mom, dad, boyfriend/girlfriend, dog, pet fish, etc.
  • Frisbee, baseball, football, soccer ball or volleyball

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to get visas for this program?

Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 30 day tourist visa upon entry into the Dominican Republic, for the cost of $10. STUDENTS MUST HAVE $10 UPON ENTRY TO PAY FOR THE TOURIST CARD.

What province(s) of the Dominican Republic does this program pass through?

During this trip, students will visit the areas of Santo Domingo, Monteplata, Duarte, and Puerto Plata.

What immunizations do we need to get for this trip?

Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations.† We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at for more information.

How does this program connect to other programs?

On Tuesday afternoon students will return to Santo Domingo. They will have a special night out in Santo Domingo and then head to the airport for a morning flight home on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening students transferring to other programs in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica, Panama, or Peru. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will stay at a hotel Tuesday evening and join their new trip on Wednesday morning.

How long is the drive from Santo Domingo to this program?

This program will be based in a rural town in the area of Jarabacoa about 2 hrs from Santo Domingo.

What is the climate in the region where this program takes place?

Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers. Since the base is located in the mountains in the evenings the temperature will go down into the 60s.

Is this a good program for students interested in practicing their Spanish?

This program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with their guides and with the local community.

What service projects will I work on and how are the projects identified?

Students will work on small scale construction projects that will help improve community and school infrastructure. Students will also facilitate educational and cultural projects with local youth and be involved in environmental projects.

How physically strenuous is this program?

This program is appropriate for most physical activity levels. Students should be prepared for medium physical activity including short hikes and some manual labor during the service projects.

What costs are not included on this trip?

The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. Students should have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs. Students should also bring extra money if they wish to purchase additional snacks or soda from the local grocery store. Students may also have the opportunity to participate in optional activities such as white water rafting for an additional cost.

What are the optional activities available at an additional cost on this program?

Rafting -
Please note that the emphasis of this program is service. Thus, the availability of these activities may change in order to meet service priorities
$50, High Ropes Course $16, Horseback Riding $16

Occasionally Rustic Pathways staff identify new opportunities throughout the summer that we feel will enhance the students overall experience and we will offer students the opportunity to participate at an additional cost. Optional or included activities may also be canceled at the staff’s discretion.

What kind of food will we be eating? Where?

Students will be eating traditional Dominican food prepared by local cooks and restaurants.† Breakfast may include plantains or toast with eggs, fruits and cereal. Lunch and dinner will be typical dishes which consists of rice, beans, salad and a meat/seafood dish or veggie dishes.

Can we cater to specific diets?

Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in the Dominican Republic. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

Will the students be drinking bottled water?

Tap water in the Dominican Republic is not recommended, we will provide bottled water for our students throughout the course of the program.

What will the accommodations on this trip be like?

During their time in the Dominican Republic students will stay in a few different places. In Santo Domingo we will stay at a hotel near the airport. In Jarabacoa we will be staying in a base house rented out by Rustic Pathways right in the community. Students will also stay at a small hotel in a cozy beach town on the country's northern coast for one night during the program.

What are the bathroom facilities?

The bathrooms are located at the facilities and will either be right in the room shared with another student, or be communal bathrooms shared with other Rustic Pathways students of the same gender. They will all have running water and American style toilets. Showers are rustic and no hot water may be available.

How many girls and boys are usually on this trip?

There are typically more girls than boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

What is the ratio of guides to students?

Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 5 students. On the program, there will be three guides. Our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our Country Director and a full background check.

Is your staff qualified in First Aid?

All of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

How often (if at all) will students be able to do laundry on this program and what will it cost?

Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through the program. Laundry may be available at some of the hotels, at an extra cost.

How often will they have access to phone and internet?

Students will have limited to no access to internet during the program. They will be able to purchase international phone cards in the Dominican Republic, which can be used to call home. We will make it possible for students to make at least one call home during the week.

Contact Us: For more information about Bateyes and Mountain Air, email


  • Engage with Dominican Students as you participate in service projects with local schools
  • Work alongside local community members as you contribute to much needed infrastructure improvements.
  • Feel among friends as you work with batey communities looking to improve their living conditions and access to resources.
  • Relax on the white sand beaches of the Dominican coast.
  • Experience Santo Domingo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a city that boasts the first colonial city, University, Cathedral, and hospital in the Americas.

Program Details

Ages: 13 to 18 years old

Length: 8 days from the USA

Hours: Up to 35 hours awarded

Cost: $1,495

Eligibility: You must be a Key Club member to attend this program

Students are responsible for arranging their own airfare. After being accepted to the program, Rustic Pathways will contact you with arrival and departure flight windows so that you may book your flight.


Departs Sat Returns Sat Availability
22 Mar 29 Mar Delayed

Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States.

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