Ecoturism Axis

Ecoturism Axis

Fantino-Sierra Prieta-Hatillo

The Dominican Republic boasts an ecotourism potential unequaled in the Caribbean. Less than two hours from the capital, we have one of the most beautiful locations imaginable. In the province of Sánchez Ramírez, close to Cotuí, its principal city, one find the area named Fantino-Sierra Prieta-Hatillo. This region is known for the beauty of the various natural sites it houses, its cultural resources, such as pre-historic cave art, and the cordiality of its people. This ecotourism center is a paradise for the adventurer. It does not have a hotel infrastructure.

In the area, one can enjoy caverns covered with cave art, streams with crystalline waters, green meadows, saltpeter formations covered by tropical forest, shaded cocoa groves and the Presa de Hatillo. An ecological society, with headquarters in Fantino, works for the conservation of the natural heritage of the entire area. The society has defined the route that allow us to appreciate all of the beauty that this incredible enclave has to offer.

Leaving Fantino, we begin toward Sierra Prieta, where, in addition to beautiful landscapes, on this enormous stone peak, covered in vegetation, rising some 300 meters above the meadows of the plain, we find a wall with more than 100 impressive geometric petroglyphs created in the pre-hispanic period. This place is often visited by tourists and youth from neighboring towns regularly meet here on the weekends.

From there, following the path of the rock art, we move toward Comedero, where we will walk along the borders of the Piedra river, eventually enjoying a bath in its crystalline waters. Upon arriving to the point at which this river joins with the Cuaya river, we can walk through the green meadows that caress the foothills of the small surrounding sierras. There, we can also enter the bowels of the guácaras, where thousand-year-old dreams repose in one of the most interesting collections of cave art left by the Tainos.

Upon leaving the enclave and journeying through the dirt roads that connect the area, we set out toward Hernando Alonso. On the side of the roads, interspersed with vegetation and fields sown with pineapple and bananas, we observe the typical houses of the area, made of wood and painted in lively colors, where the cordial inhabitants of the area live. Many of these houses are adorned with modest gardens full of flowers. Crossing the town, in a short distance we arrive at the Presa, or dam, de Hatillo, where water becomes the focal point of our visit. Sailing, water skiing, swimming or fishing: any water sport is welcome on this immense sheet of blue waters contained by the mountains and by an embankment that definitively closes it off from the valley.

Now we continue on foot, bordering the dam on a slight incline until reaching the surrounding hills, enjoying the impressive view of the lake stretching before us. This path takes us to the Hoyo de Sanabe, a closed lowland where beautiful meadows and lush tropical forests climb along the stone hills, where we arrive to one of the most beautiful caverns one can visit in the Caribbean, the guácara of the Hoyo de Sanabe, were more than 900 Taino paintings feature animals, plants, objects and rites of the aborigines that have disappeared from the island.

We make use of this stop to taste some fruits that we have collected along the way. Oranges, mangoes, custard apples and others with strange names, like the mamon. A bit of fresh water and bitter chocolate prepared in balls ground in the wooden mortars of the country folk with whom we chatted on the stops made on the road to regain strength and continue on our exciting excursion.

Crossing the gentle waters of the dam on a motor boat, we enjoy an unforgettable outing, and we disembark on the other side of the embankment that contains the waters, where we can appreciate the beautiful view of the other side of the valley, crossed by the winding waters of the Yuna river. We return to walking the road to Caballero, where we will rest among the cocoa plants that spill over the banks into the current. These are true gardens, where the wide leaves of decorative plants that shade our houses can be seen here in their natural habitat, growing at the foot of giant amapolas and centuries old ceiba trees.

Adolfo López Belando .

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