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Explore mangroves, reef formations, and marine wildlife at Los Haitises National Park and Samaná peninsula. Get your hands dirty as you work on ecological restoration projects and learn from experts and communities about the efforts to maintain the extensive biodiversity of the region. Swim in hidden caverns to see ancient Taino cave paintings, and soak up the sun on some of the island’s most beautiful beaches.

Program Profile

Country
Dominican Republic
Community Service Component
Introductory
Community Service Focus
Environment, Infrastructure
Get to Know
Nature, Adventure
Travel Component
Moderate Travel Involved

2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 13 June 21 Available
June 20 June 28 Available
June 27 July 5 Available
July 4 July 12 Available
July 11 July 19 Available
July 18 July 26 Available
August 1 August 9 Available
July 25 August 2 Available

Connecting Programs

Schedule two or more programs in a row to create your ideal Rustic Pathways experience.

This program connects especially well with:

  • Day 1

    Travel Day

    Depart the United States for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Your Rustic Pathways staff will greet you upon arrival and take you to the nearby hotel for the night to get some sleep before the real adventure begins.

  • Day 2

    To the Mountains of Jarabacoa

    On the three-hour drive to beautiful Jarabacoa, take in the changing landscape of the Dominican countryside. Watch as the lush Santo Domingo gives way to arid land and the green, winding mountain roads of the Dominican Alps. Arrive at the Rustic Pathways Base House in a sustainable ranch filled with friendly farm animals, organic gardens, fish ponds, and fruit trees that are heavy with sweet starfruit, bananas, and papayas. Enjoy a tour of the ranch and learn about this pioneering ecological paradise and get settled in with your group with a hot Dominican meal and friendly conversation with the knowledgeable staff. Get a good night’s sleep for a big day of service in the morning!

  • Day 3

    Jarabacoa

    Today you will jump into your community service. Spend the first part of the day working alongside local farmers and volunteers on projects geared toward the environment or local village infrastructure. These projects vary based on the needs of our partner communities, and could include reforestation efforts, building a Black Water Treatment system, or other small-scale construction projects that contribute to communities and sustainable development projects in neighboring communities. After you’ve wrapped up service for the day, take a hike to a nearby waterfall to cool off. Spend the evening relaxing at the ranch swimming in the pool, playing basketball or ping pong, or relaxing in a hammock one of the common spaces. Soak up the sweet, cool mountain air!

  • Day 4

    Jarabacoa

    Continue your service work this morning with a different project. Get to know the kids in the community and get your hands dirty with the neighbors who came out to work alongside you on the project. After lunch, put some finishing touches on your work and head back to the ranch for one last night around the bonfire or playing games with your team in evening breeze.

  • Day 5

    Las Galeras Beach

    Today is an early start as you board a bus bound for Las Galeras around 7:30am and take the four-and-a-half hour bus ride to horseback riding and a laid-back beach town on the Samaná Peninsula. Enjoy lunch by the beach and then spend this lazy Saturday afternoon as most Dominicans in the area do: enjoying the Caribbean beaches with some cool, fresh coconut water.

  • Day 6

    Los Haitises, Sabana de la Mar

    After another early breakfast, enjoy the morning on the beach before heading toward the town of Samaná, about 25 minutes away. Explore some of the cays (small islands) and hop on a boat across the bay to Sabana de La Mar where you will stay at an eco-hotel nestled on the borders of Los Haitises National Park. As you cross the bay take in the sights of the park, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, pelicans, and many other aquatic birds that call this vibrant place home.

  • Day 7

    Los Haitises

    Spend today working on mangrove restoration and various projects at the National Park, getting your hands dirty with community members who are working to rebuild the estuary and breeding grounds for hundreds of native species. Take a boat through the canals of the Rio Caño Hondo to explore caves and beaches in the area and relax in the shade of the tropical trees in the evening at the eco lodge.

  • Day 8

    In the morning, explore Los Haitises National Park rainforest before heading back to the capital for a tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the first university, cathedral and hospital in the Americas. Take a tour of the walled city and learn about the deep history of the first European settlement in the Americas. After touring the Colonial Zone, head over to a special dinner and dance show at a typical Dominican restaurant.

  • Day 9

    If you are heading home, you must say your last goodbyes to your new friends and head off to the airport bright and early in the morning. If you are heading off to another Rustic Pathways program in Latin America, get ready for more adventure!

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.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email dominican@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • Students will return to Santo Domingo on Tuesday afternoon. They will spend that night in Santo Domingo at a hotel near the airport. On Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, students transferring to other programs in Latin America can catch a flight to Costa Rica or Peru. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will join their new trip on Wednesday morning.

  • 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.

  • Yes. All flights between the Dominican Republic and the USA will have a flight leader starting in New York. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as New York. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru will not be escorted.

  • Direct flight from New York to Santo Domingo takes approximately 3-4 hours.

  • Yes.

  • During this trip, students will visit the areas of Santo Domingo, Jarabacoa, Las Galeras, and Sabana de la Mar.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, and/or Life Guards.

    Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • None.

  • 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, the temperature will go down into the 60s in the evenings.

  • Students will stay in a few different places throughout their time in the Dominican Republic. In Santo Domingo, we will stay at a hotel near the airport. In Jarabacoa, we will be staying at a summer camp style ranch. In Samaná, students will stay at a small cozy hotel. In Sabana de lar Mar students will stay at an eco-lodge.

  • 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.

  • 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 may or may not be hot.

  • Students will have limited to no access to internet during the program. They will be able to use guide’s local phones to call home. We will facilitate at least one call a week to parents.

  • 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.

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

  • Students should not flush toilet paper down the toilet and cannot drink tap water.

  • This program will be based in Jarabacoa – about 2 hours from Santo Domingo, and in Samaná, about a 4-hour drive from Jarabacoa. On average, students will take a 2.5-hour bus ride about every 3 days.

  • Students travel between sites and locations via small private buses.

  • While there is an inherent risk in travel, we control that risk very well. All of our programs are run in locations that we feel comfortable traveling to with students. Students will be supervised by our staff from the moment of arrival in the Dominican Republic airport. Kids are never left alone in any place, and the communities we are working with are very responsible.

    All staff have at least first aid and CPR certifications and some are also Wilderness First Responders. We also employ local staff that know the areas that we visit well.

    We also have risk management plans in place for all of our programs, and close relations with local communities. We hire local staff that know the lay of the land, and can spot risky situations. We monitor weather, crime, and government notices, and also have a partnership with International SOS. We keep our hand on the pulse of what’s going in the country.

    Parents should consult the CDC website and International SOS for information on Malaria and Dengue, which are both present in the Dominican Republic

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

  • International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to SOS’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.

  • Jarabacoa – Nearest clinic is 15 minutes away, and nearest major hospital about 30 minutes away.
    Las Galeras – Nearest clinic is about 30 minutes away.
    Sabana de la Mar – Nearest clinic/hospital is 20 minutes away

  • 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.

  • Moderate mosquitoes, buggy at times. Students should bring deet repellent and may wish to wear light long sleeved shirts and pants.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. Activities that are included in the cost of the trip are:
    -Rafting (optional)
    -Horseback Riding (optional)
    -Boat tour of Los Haitises National Park
    -Visit to beaches

  • The majority of costs associated with the program are included. Students should also have extra allowance money if they wish to buy souvenirs or purchase additional snacks from the local grocery store. US $100 per week is recommended.

  • Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.

  • Rustic Pathways works with local community organizations, park rangers, and environmental groups to identify projects. Students will be partnering with the Brigada Verde group to plant mangroves in Los Haitises National Park, and will also contribute to projects in Jababacoa that could include construction of an aqueduct, trail maintenance or reforestation work.

  • Rain jacket, water shoes, and work gloves.

  • Program is for 14 and older, but exceptions can be made.

  • 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.

  • The goal of Island Living and Eco-Service is for you to be immersed in Dominican culture while learning about various issues that face the communities in which you will be working. You will learn about water access, mangrove protection, and waste pollution. One of your projects, planting mangroves, is essential to the health of the coastal ecosystem. Mangroves are home to many tropical fish species and protect the beaches from erosion. Please take a look at these pages from the World Wildlife Fund to learn more about the mangrove ecosystem.

    During this program you may help to construct an aqueduct, teach English courses to local students, plant mangroves, and conduct a beach cleanup among other projects. You can also look forward to rafting down the longest river in the Caribbean, and of course relaxing and soaking in the sun on the most beautiful white sand beaches!

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Two photocopies of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothes

  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (8)
  • Pants/hiking pants (2 – 4)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long shorts (3-4)
  • Long skirt T-shirts (6-8)
  • Long sleeved shirt (1)
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Rain jacket
  • Light jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots (optional)
  • Work gloves
  • Sunglasses Hat (for sun)
  • Headlamp
  • Portable games (Bananagrams, cards, etc.)

Toiletries

(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Important Reminders

  • Shorts should be knee length—think Bermuda or basketball shorts—to be respectful to the local culture and traditions.
  • Please bring $10 USD to pay for your tourist card upon arrival.
  1. a
    Santo Domingo

    Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.

  2. b
    Jarabacoa

    This mountain town is the capital of eco-adventure in the Dominican Republic.

  3. c
    Las Galeras

    This is the northern peninsula of the island next to Samana Bay, where the Humpback whales come every year.

  4. d
    Sabana de la Mar

    This is the town nearest to Los Haitises National Park, where we do community service.