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Travel with fellow like-minded Key Clubbers and get to know the rural, mountain region of the Dominican Republic on this service one-week program. Swim in the turquoise water and relax on the white sand beaches of the Dominican coast. Work alongside the welcoming Dominican community on infrastructure and water quality improvements while immersing yourself in island culture. Hike to pristine waterfalls hidden within the country’s mountains. Enjoy the laid-back and welcoming nature of small town life.

This program is for Key Club members only.

With our No Anxiety Escrow Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
August 1 August 9 Available

Program Profile

Country
Dominican Republic
Community Service Component
Introductory
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure, Education, Environment
Get to Know
Adventure, The Sights, The People
Community Service Component
Settle in at the base
Travel Component
Stationary Program

Small Town Life

Make the Dominican countryside your home for a week as you experience daily life in one of the island’s most rural areas. Enjoy the laid-back and friendly nature of Dominicans as they welcome you into their homes and into their hearts. Facilitate educational activities at a local school and watch the students smile as they show you how to throw a baseball or dance merengue. Immerse yourself in the local culture as you make this small mountain town your home for the week.

Make an Impact

Team up with locals on service projects that will increase the standard of living in these rural communities. Learn about the lack of educational opportunities available for children in many of these communities and work with your peers to create fun and instructive activities for local kids. Improve the local infrastructure by building waste treatment systems, helping with reforestation efforts, or constructing an aqueduct that will bring running water to rural towns. Since 2012 Rustic Pathways, with the help of our students and community partners, has constructed over nine aqueducts that bring running water to communities that have never had this resource. Through these projects our students have built physical bonds with these communities that will last for many years. After your week in the mountains, return home knowing you helped improve the quality of life for a community that welcomed you with open arms. Take your new energy and enthusiasm for positively impacting others and apply your newly acquired skills back in your hometown.

Soak up the Sun

After your time working in the countryside, you’ll enjoy a weekend of sun 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. Then watch a breathtaking sunset as you enjoy the comforting flavors of traditional Dominican cuisine with your peers and staff. Spend the night alongside the ocean, with the sound of the waves crashing outside your window.

Challenge Yourself

Take a short hike to one of the mountains’ beautiful, cascading waterfalls. Swim in the natural pool and soak in the beauty of Jarabacoa. Then, challenge yourself during a morning of optional activities that could include rafting the class III & IV rapids of the Yaque Rio del Norte or partaking in a thrilling high ropes course.

Students who want to complement their service in the Dominican Republic with a fascinating tour through Peru should consider combining this program with our Off the Map: Peru program for a summer never to be forgotten.

Mountain Air and Village Service also connects seamlessly with all our other great programs in the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Costa Rica.

  • Day 1

    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

    Get to Know the Community

    After breakfast, head into the heart of the Dominican Republic and settle into your new home in the beautiful province of Jarabacoa. Take a tour of a local ranch and sustainable farm near the Rustic Pathways base. Enjoy a home-cooked traditional Dominican meal made with vegetables from the ranch’s organic gardens and enjoy the cool mountain air as you get to know your group and prepare for the next few days of service. In the afternoon, head out to begin your service initiatives and really bond with your team!

  • Day 3

    Helping Hands

    The rural Dominican Republic is home to some of the lowest standards of living in the country. Houses often lack running water or electricity, and sewage systems are absent in many places. You will work alongside locals to help raise the living standards doing one of many projects initiated by the community, based on the needs at the time. After completing your first full day of service, get to know the community a little better by organizing some games for local kids. Then head back to the ranch for dinner and an evening discussion.

  • Day 4

    Service Day

    Today, have an early breakfast, pack your lunch, and head into the community for a full day of service. Spend the day working alongside your new local friends to advance one of our projects in the area. Over the past several years, students have contributed to seven aqueducts, bringing water to the rural communities in the mountains around Jarabacoa. Students will also contribute to another side of this project by working on a black water treatment system that helps filter wastewater and preserve the Rio Yaque del Norte, the longest river in the Caribbean.

  • Day 5 - 6

    Beach Trip

    Drive the two-hour ride to Sosúa for a full day of relaxing on the beaches of the DR’s North Coast. Swim in the turquoise water and enjoy a lunch of fresh fish straight from the sea. Spend the night in a cozy beach town, relaxing and enjoying island life. Sunday, head back to Jarabacoa after lunch for a good night’s sleep at the ranch.

  • Day 7

    Service Day

    Stay strong for one last day of community service with your team and put the finishing touches on your project. Have fun with the neighborhood children and say goodbye to the community members you have been working with this past week. This day is important, since you are passing the torch on your project – make sure to leave the site clean and the project at a good point to ensure it gets done well and efficiently so the community can receive the benefits. After a long day’s work, take a dip in the ranch’s pool or hang out with the many animals that live there among the banana trees and towering mountaintops around you.

  • Day 8

    Head 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

    Homeward Bound or Off to New Adventures

    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 USD upon entry to pay for the tourist card.

  • Yes. All flights between the Dominican Republic and the United States will have a flight leader starting in New York. Return flights to the United States will also have a flight leader as far as New York. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica 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, and Sosua.

  • 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 uses purified bottled water on all Dominican Republic Programs. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • 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 (for those with US style plugs).

  • 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 in a base house rented out by Rustic Pathways. 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.

  • 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 are rustic, so hot water may not be available.

  • 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.

  • Laundry during the program is not guaranteed, so students should bring enough clothes to last through the program. Students may use laundry machines at the hotel in Santo Domingo on the night of arrival (or last night of program if connecting to another DR program). The machines at hotel in Santo Domingo are coin operated.

  • 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.

  • There is minimal travel in this program. The longest bus ride students will experience is 3 hours when traveling between Santo Domingo and Jarabacoa.

  • 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 HX Global. We keep our hand on the pulse of what’s going in the country.

    Parents should consult the CDC website and HX Global 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 HX Global 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.

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

    As a member you will have access to HX Global’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 HX Global webpage.

  • The nearest clinic is about 15 minutes away. The nearest hospital is about 30 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. All activities that are included in the cost of the trip are:

    • Visits to beaches on the northern coast.
    • Low ropes course
    • High ropes course (optional)
    • Whitewater rafting (optional)
    • Hike to waterfalls

    All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are also included in the program price.

  • 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 has partnered with local communities to help provide one of life’s most important necessities: water. Over the past four years, we have built seven aqueducts that have brought running water to small farming communities in the mountains of Jarabacoa, and will be building two more in 2016.

  • Make sure to bring a rain jacket and work gloves!

  • On this program, students will learn about one of life’s most important necessities. During this program you will live and work in the beautiful, friendly, and often-overlooked mountain communities of the Dominican Republic. You will learn about the various issues that these communities face. Specifically, you will learn about access to one of the most important natural resources that we often take for granted: water. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, there are 32 million people lacking access to water. Take some time to learn more about water access through this informative fact sheet from water.org.

    Prepare to get your hands dirty as you and your group work together to construct an aqueduct in one of the local communities. Remember to pack clothes that are culturally appropriate and that you don’t mind getting dirty!

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
    Sosua

    Enjoy some time on the North Coast.