Visiting Cachóte's Cloud Forest

About 25km (1½ hours’ drive) west of Paraíso on an impressively bad road – you ford the same river half a dozen times – sit the remote cabins of Ecoturismo Comunitario Cachóte. At 1400m, the cabins are at the heart of a Caribbean cloud forest, where a low mist hangs heavy over the trees. It’s here that seven rivers spring from the ground to supply the coastal towns below.

In order to protect the water supply, coffee growing was ended in the 1990s, and, with the help of Peace Corps volunteers, cabins have been constructed and short trails built in the regenerating forest.

The cabins are rustic but comfortable, and each has a large queen-size bed and a triple-decker dormitory-style bunk. Prices per person get cheaper the larger the group, and all-inclusive packages are also available. Transportation is not included in the price. Hiring a 4WD and driver can run upwards of RD$5000 for up to 10 people, but it's more economical (and less comfortable!) to catch the local transport for folks living in the mountains (RD$500 per person return) in La Ciénaga or Barahona.

Book at least two weeks in advance. Ecotour Barahona also runs a day trip to Cachóte (US$119), stopping at the small communities along the way, and can arrange overnight stays.

Hikes in the area offer great bird-watching (31 species of endemic bird have been identified here, including the Dominican parrot) and visits to a traditional mountain village. Guides can point out plants used in medicine and even in local Haitian Vodou.