Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
Create and run a day camp for marginalized young students in the Dominican Republic. First, bond with your group as you hike and camp the mountain town of Jarabacoa. Work together to plan games and learning activities for a six-day camp. Teach English, play sports, and have a blast with the young kids and learn more about their lives in the Dominican Republic. After all the hard work, relax with a catamaran tour and snorkeling around Saona Island.
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.
After breakfast, start your three-hour drive to Jarabacoa, a town nestled in the mountains of the Cordillera Central. Arrive in time for lunch and enjoy a typical Dominican meal made from scratch. Take a tour of the ranch where you will be staying tonight and learn about the organic farming and energy reclamation projects that the ranch is known for. Start your team-building training in the afternoon with a low ropes course and group discussions that will get you thinking about your team, the camp, and how to be a great leader.
Over the next two days, your team will have the opportunity to form tight-knit bonds as you camp in the Dominican Alps. This part of the training aims to establish a foundation that is strong enough to take on the real challenge of the trip, running the camp. This requires a moderate level of physical fitness, including hiking in the mountains and a night of rugged camping. On day 4, you will head back to the eco ranch to being planning for camp.
Once you settle into the base house near the camp, on-site training will familiarize you with the details of your new challenge. You will be living like the locals in very basic conditions, so be prepared to rough it for a few days. Don’t worry; after a hard day’s work in this tropical climate, cold showers will feel so refreshing! During this time, your team will focus on the logistics and curriculum of the upcoming days, and will work hard to ensure the experience is truly a life-changing one for the little ones who attend.
From the moment the first child shows up early Sunday morning, you will be responsible for not just activities, but for all the children’s needs throughout the day. Organize these energetic kids so they can best enjoy the arts and crafts, outdoor sports and games, and indoor and educational activities. Expect to also offer discipline, organize meals, and provide a positive influence. Your days will be full, and by the end of the last day of camp, you and your team will have worked together to create an amazing and profound experience for these kids that need a positive environment and healthy role models in their lives.
On day 4 of camp, you will travel to the community where the students you work with live, meeting community members and getting a glimpse into their daily lives. Here, you will run camp activities in the morning and enjoy a big lunch with the community. After lunch, work with locals to paint houses in the community, brightening this small village.
The last few days of the trip will take you to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Dominican Republic. Enjoy the chance to relax and reflect back on the hard work you have just completed. You’ll enjoy hiking to a nearby cave, dipping into the clear water, and relaxing at the beach. Hop on a catamaran and head to the remote beaches on Isla Saona. Reflect on the leadership skills you have acquired and the bonds you made with the local kids. You will take home a new sense of responsibility, some practical organizational skills, and a treasure trove of memories with new friends.
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.
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!
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.
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On Tuesday afternoon, students will return to Santo Domingo. 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, Cuba, or Peru. Students connecting to other programs in the Dominican Republic will join their new trip on Wednesday morning.
No. You tourist visa is now included in your airline ticket upon arrival.
Yes. All flights between the Dominican Republic and the USA will have a flight leader starting in Miami. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as Miami. Flights from the Dominican Republic to Costa Rica, Cuba, or Peru will not be escorted.
Direct flight from Miami to Santo Domingo takes approximately 2-3 hours.
During this trip, students will visit the provinces of Santo Domingo, Duarte, La Vega, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, and Omit Duarte.
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.
The Dominican Republic uses the same voltage as US outlets.
Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day with occasional rain showers.
During their time in the Dominican Republic, students will stay in a few different places. On the first and last night of the trip, the group will stay in a comfortable three star hotel in the capital. For the rest of the trip there will be times when the group stays in hotels, tents, and cabins, where they will need to help fulfill the basic requirements of Rustic Pathways; clean, hygienic and safe! The program wraps up at a base house in Bayahibe. Students should expect to stay in rooms with 1-5 roommates.
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 facilities will either be right in the rooms 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 except for the overnight camping when bathrooms will be outdoors. When not in hotels, showers will be rustic and may not have hot water at times.
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.
No flushing toilet paper down the toilet, and students cannot drink tap water.
There is minimal travel on this program. The longest bus ride students will experience is between 2 and 3 hours.
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. 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 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 finger 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 International 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.
The nearest clinic in Jarabacoa is 15 minute away, and nearest major hospital about 15 minutes away. (When camping, we will be about 40-45 minutes from nearest medical facility.)
While in Juan Dolio, the nearest clinic about 20-25 minutes away and the nearest clinic while staying in Bayahibe is about 10-15 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 other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.
Students will plan, prepare, and implement a 6-day long camp for children between the ages 8 to 12 years from impoverished communities.
Rain jacket, sturdy shoes or hiking boots.
Students with a background in working with children, and leading camp activities.
This program focuses mainly on leadership skills, however; students will be in close contact with local Spanish speaking children, making the program an excellent opportunity to practice Spanish conversational skills.
Students should come prepared to share their own special skills. Sharing knowledge of a sport, instrument, or any educational or camp activity is highly encouraged. Students will be responsible for the development of the camp, and the execution of all activities.
This program is appropriate for most physical activity levels. Students should be ready for moderate hikes and one night of camping.
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.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Welcome to the Dominican Republic! You will arrive in Santo Domingo and begin your journey.
This mountain town is the capital of eco-adventure in the Dominican Republic.
This coastal town will be home base for the summer camp.
A beautiful beach town great for winding down at the end of a program.