It is easy to close your eyes and not even try to understand the country you are traveling to, or the conditions people are living in. Spending a week at a luxurious all-inclusive, sipping on a cocktail, eating at your heart’s desire, relaxing under a swaying palm tree. Paradise, right?
However, there is always someone that calls paradise their home and might not be living the same life of luxury. I would like to hope that all my clients have a certain respect and consideration for the destination they are visiting. Tourism is vital to many Caribbean islands and we can make a huge impact on the quality of life the people have, particularly the children.
On my recent trip to the Dominican Republic I was introduced to the Outback Safari Adventures company. This company is not only interesting because you get to see parts of the Dominican Republic, its culture and what it has to offer, but the company also believes in sustainable tourism and makes a huge difference in the communities they serve.
The tour is conducted in an open-air school bus and offers a great way to leave Punta Cana’s resort area behind and discover the real Dominican Republic. It is a wonderful and safe excursion for both adults and children, however, pregnant women are not allowed on the tour and people with back problems should also stay clear. The road gets very bumpy at times and the old school bus does not offer the best shock-absorbers.
I love soaking up everything a destination has to offer and felt that driving through the different villages was very exciting. After about an hour we stopped to visit a local school to make some donations. Donations are not given to the children, but to the teacher as to avoid that the children will become beggars. Your donation allows the teacher to buy school supplies and sweets for her classroom. When making donations, remember to bring small bills, as it is very hard to exchange even $5 or $10 bills in the rural areas. Instead of money, you can also bring actual school supplies.
Stopping at the village school and meeting the children was definitely one of the highlights of the tour. The school we visited consisted of one classroom in which all grades were being taught.
Next stop was Outback Safari Adventures’ own animal sanctuary as well as a crafting village. There you get to see Iguanas, crocodiles, as well as a cigar maker at his work. There are several local products for sale. There is absolutely no pressure to buy and the goods are really well priced. From the famous Mama Juana to handmade jewelry, carvings, lotions, and creams you are sure to find something to take home. Best of all, your money is not going to a resort but straight back into the local community. Here the company also serves a snack or lunch which was wonderful.
On your tour you will also stop in a local home where you can learn about sugar cane, cocoa and coffee.
The way back will take you through more villages and many opportunities to snap pictures.
At the end of the tour you get to dip your toes in the sand and for those who like to, swim at one of the Dominican Republic’s beautiful beaches.
Outback Safari Adventures truly offers a great tour if you want to leave your resort behind and experience the real Dominican Republic for a day. I would recommend it to anyone traveling to the area. You can book your tour through the resort or online at Outback Safari Adventures.
Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is a Honeymoon & Destination Weddings Specialist. She is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org