Dominican Republic Endemic Bird watching Tour
This is a 10-day Birding Dominican Republic Tour for avid birders. We will learn a little about culture, history, and nature in general too, but the focus is clearly on seeing the country endemics (31 in total) and regional endemics.
When it comes to bird life, Hispaniola benefits from its unique location: It sits on an oceanic archipelago between the Caribbean Sea in the south and the Pacific Ocean in the north, and pretty much in the middle between North and South America. It may not have the high species numbers of other countries in the Americas (though it still counts just over 300 species total), but it has relatively high numbers of endemic and regional endemic species.
In total, Hispaniola boasts 31 strict endemics (that is, species that are not found anywhere else in the world). Besides the strict endemics, Hispaniola is also home to about 20 regional endemics, or species only found in the Caribbean. Then we are not talking yet about the nearly 50 resident sub-species. And on top of that, the island is an important wintering or stopover site for hosts of migratory warblers, ducks, and shorebirds that are a lot easier to see here in winter than in North America in summer, simply because they are concentrated in a much smaller area.
This Birding Dominican Republic Tour is not particularly strenuous. The walks are usually short, and even on the longest hikes restricted to about 3h. We will walk on nature trails, but they generally are relatively flat and not difficult to walk. Of course, we also walk slowly, as we will be birding all the time. Anyone in reasonably good health and with a general level of fitness can take the Dominican Republic birdwatching experience.
On several occasions, birding will be from the car and we will make stops along the way where we walk only short stretches, looking for particular species or following a flock. The car rides can be tiring, especially along Zapotén and Cachote road, where we will be travelling in a 4WD high-clearance vehicle. Roads in those locations are sometimes not even roads but rather dry river beds. However, your endurance will be rewarded with some excellent species.
Other drives, to get us from A to B can take up to 4h on good roads, although we try to limit the long driving days during the tour.
Alternative Tour Name: Dominican Republic Endemic Birds
We will be waiting for you at Las Americas international airport in Santo Domingo. As soon as the group is complete, we drive to Sabana de la Mar, on the northern shore of the island. We will likely arrive late, so after our first dinner together we crawl into bed to be fit for our first birding day tomorrow!
Paraiso Caño Hondo is our entrance gate to Los Haitises National Park. The park is famed among birders because it is the stronghold of the endemic Ridgway’s Hawk. The entire population (about 300 individuals) of this rare and unfortunately, critically endangered, raptor lives in Los Haitises.
Today, we will hike the land-based part of the park in search of Ridgway’s Hawk and other terrestrial bird species such as White-crowned Pigeon, Plain Pigeon, Hispaniolan Parrot, White-necked Crow, Broad-billed Tody, Greater Antillean Pewee, Stolid Flycatcher, Black-crowned Palm-Tanager, and Hispaniolan Oriole. In the evening, we will also look for the beautiful and endemic Ashy-faced Owl.
On the schedule this morning is a boat trip to add some more species to our list of waterbirds and shorebirds. We will get a full host of boobies, egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, terns, plovers: Brown and Red-footed Booby, Black- and Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Laughing and Ring-billed Gull, Least, Caspian and Royal Tern, Snowy Plover, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird and many more.
After lunch, we drive back to Santo Domingo, where we enjoy dinner in the colonial heart of the city.
Early in the morning, we drive to the Botanical Garden. It is the largest one in the Caribbean, with 2000 hectares and over 69,000 plant species (both native and introduced). It was founded in 1943 and named after he first Dominican botanist to write a catalog on the flora of La Española, Dr. Rafael Moscoso.
The garden offers a great introduction to many of the more common bird species of the Dominican Republic, including some of the endemics. Targets here are Vervain Hummingbird, Broad-billed Tody, Hispaniolan Woodpecker, Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo, Palmchat, Black-crowned Palm-Tanager, Hispaniolan Parakeet, and the near-threatened West-Indian Whistling Duck.
Afterwards, we drive to the southwestern side of the Dominican Republic. Our first destination – and base for the next few nights – is Cabo Rojo (“Red Cape”).
Depending on the time, we might briefly stop some wetlands along the way. Some of the species we are likely to see here are American Flamingo, Brown Booby, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Clapper Rail, Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Herring Gull, Least Tern, Roseate Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, and Yellow Warbler.
Today we’ll be dividing our time between Cabo Rojo and Alcoa Road.
Cabo Rojo is well-known for its enchanting white sandy beaches and the nearby cliffs of the Bahia de las Águilas (“Eagle Bay”). There is also a lagoon where we can find White-cheeked Pintail (a regional endemic), White and Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-bellied Plover, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated, Western, Least, Pectoral and Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson’s Snipe, Stolid Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Village Weaver and Nutmeg Mannikin.
The latter is a good dirt road leading up to the Hoyo de Pelempito entrance on the south side of Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. We make several stops along the road to look for Antillean Euphonia, Antillean Piculet, Antillean Siskin, Hispaniolan Pewee, Hispaniolan Parrot, Hispaniolan Parakeet, Hispaniolan Palm Crown, Hispaniolan Crossbill and Golden Swallow.
Prepare for some rough terrain today. Don't worry too much, we won't have to walk it, but the bumpy ride in the car over steep rocky roads and through river beds will shake you up a little.
However, it is worth it, because this is where we will look for some of the harder-to-get endemics. Primarily the Eastern Chat-Tanager, which is pretty much impossible to get anywhere else, and the main reason to even drive up this road. Other target species we can see here include Hispaniolan Parakeet, Hispaniolan Trogon, Hispaniolan Spindalis, Rufous-throated Solitaire and Narrow-billed Tody.
This morning, we have built in some spare time which we can use either to rest or to try and pick up some species we might have missed on this side of Bahoruco NP. Afterwards, we drive around the park (back through Barahona) to the northern slope of the Sierra.
Depending on our morning activity and thus our time of arrival, we may still look for Bay-breasted Cuckoo, Flat-billed Vireo, White-fronted Quail Dove, Broad-billed Tody, Narrow-billed Tody, Hispanolian Piculet, Hispaniolan Oriole and Hispanolian Lizard-Cuckoo. After dark, we can go owling and try again to get the Ashy-faced Owl, in case we didn’t see it at Sabana de la Mar or we just can’t get it enough of it.
Another rough drive today, this time along Zapotén road. Though ‘road’ is actually too much credit for what we will be driving on, because most of it is actually a dry river bed. You will understand why we need the 4WD and high clearance car! But again, this is a must-go location, since it is one of the best spots to look for White-necked Crow, White-winged and Green-tailed Warbler, Antillean Siskin, Hispianolian Spindalis, Greater Antillean Elaenia, Western Chat-Tanager and LaSelle’s Thrush.
This morning we go birding along the nearby Rabo de Gato trail. An easy and pleasant walk through a beautiful forest and along a lovely stream. This area is home to Flat-billed Vireo, White-fronted Quail Dove, Key-West Quail-Dove, Broad- and Narrow-billed Tody, Hispaniolan Piculet and Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo, among several others.
In the afternoon, we drive back to Santo Domingo for our farewell dinner.
The Dominican Republic Endemics trip has come to an end. We hope you enjoyed your stay, saw plenty of beautiful birds, and have added some (endemics and others) to your life list. We will bring you back to Las Americas international airport in time for your flight.
Some of the birds we may see on this trip are:
Hispaniolan Amazon, Antillean Piculet, Bay-breasted Cuckoo, Eastern Chat-Tanager, Western Chat-Tanager, Hispaniolan Crossbill, White-necked Crow, Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo, Hispaniolan Emerald, Ridgway’s Hawk, Hispaniolan Nightjar, Hispaniolan Oriole, Ashy-faced Owl, Palm Crow, Palmchat, Hispaniolan Parakeet, Hispaniolan Pewee, Least Poorwill, Antillean Siskin, Hispaniolan Spindalis, Golden Swallow, Black-crowned Tanager, La Selle Thrush, Broad-billed Tody, Narrow-billed Tody, Hispaniolan Trogon, Flat-billed Vireo, Green-tailed Warbler, White-winged Warbler, White-fronted Quail-Dove, Hispaniolan Woodpecker…
What is included?
- 9 hotel nights (double occupancy);
- 3 meals per day, starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on day 10;
- non-alcoholic beverages;
- all in-country transportation (private van/bus);
- all entrance fees to the parks and reserves mentioned above;
- all activities as described above;
- all guiding fees.
What is not included?
- airfare to/from Dominican Republic;
- exit/departure tax;
- alcoholic beverages;
- additional snacks, souvenirs.
Beaks and Peaks offers high-quality, personalized tours for small group to some of the top birding and wildlife destinations in the world. Everything you would expect from the big names in birdwatching tourism, but on a smaller scale, and therefore closer to the birds, the people, and to you! We are also aware of the importance of transparency, so before you book a tour, we will make sure you have all the information you need or want. Detailed tour itineraries, prices (with clear mention of what is included or excluded), practical information etc. And should you still have questions, then we will be more than happy to help you out. Our goal is to give you the best possible experience. Responsible travel is key at Beaks and Peaks, so we work to reduce our footprint on both the environment and the communities we visit, for example by preferring reusable materials, respecting distances to wildlife, limit use of recordings, flashlights and pointers, and educating both locals and visitors about the importance of conservation and sustainable development.
During the Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic, accommodation will generally be in basic but comfortable hotels. The only exception to that being the two nights on the north side of the Sierra de Bahoruco. To limit driving times on an already very early start (4am), we will be staying at a very rustic site near the entrance to Zapotén road. Read: wooden cabins and a rustic shared shower/toilet block. Think of it more like a camp site, except that you will be sleeping in regular beds in a cabin, not in tents. But that is the level of basic. There is light and electricity to charge your devices. No wifi. It is worth it, though, since we need to be up at Zapotén before dawn to see La Selle Thrush, and this is the only chance! And as said, it saves an extra two hours of driving early morning.
The vehicles we will travel in ultimately depend on the size of the group, be it a private car or a private van with an experienced driver, with ample space for each passenger, his or her birding/photography gear and luggage. For the drives up to Cachote and Zapotén, we will use off-road 4x4 vehicles, as those roads are very steep and rocky. Prepare for a bumpy ride on those two days.
We will travel by private car or van. In Los Haitises, we go out birding in a motorboat. There are no internal flights or ferries on this trip.
Our tours and prices are based on a minimum of 4 participants. To give everyone good opportunities to see all the birds - and at the same time limit our tour's impact on the environment and the communities - we limit the group on this Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic to a maximum of 6 participants.
Yes, we pick you up at Las Américas international airport in Santo Domingo upon arrival of your flight and will drop you off again at the same airport in time for your departure.
All in-country transportation is included in the tour price. There are no internal flights/ferries during the Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic.
We do not usually change the tour leader, but if it is absolutely necessary, for example because of illness, force majeure or the like, we will inform you as soon as possible. The same goes for changes to the itinerary. We intend to always stick to the itinerary we have agreed upon, but if we receive information on issues such as road closures, natural disasters, safety concerns etc. we will opt for an alternative route to ensure a safe, orderly and pleasant continuation of your trip. Again, we will inform you of any changes as soon as such a situation should arise.
Yes, for the Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic, a single supplement of 300USD applies in case you want a single room. We can usually accommodate three-person or family rooms, but please do contact us to check options, availability and prices.
Yes, all meals starting with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 10 are included, along with water, soft drinks and natural juices. Alcoholic beverages are not included.
The best time to travel to the Dominican Republic - for birding - is December to May. This way, we avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean. And we can pick up migrants and wintering birds on top of resident species.
The Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic is not physically demanding and anyone with an average fitness level will be able to do it. You do, however, need to be able to walk independently, mainly on flat terrain, and from time to time on forest trails. It is not a wheelchair or reduced mobility accessible tour. Some of the drives, especially up to Cachote and Zapotén, are long and very bumpy (driving off road, sometimes through dry river beds etc). Though it does not demand any actual physical effort of you, they can still be tiring because of that.
Even though this tour is not physically demanding, you do have to be able to walk independently, mostly on unpaved, wide and flat trails, but sometimes also on narrower and uneven forest trails. This tour is not feasible for people in wheelchairs.
No. Apart from a certain level as fitness (see FAQ n° 12 and 13), we put no restrictions on who can join the Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic. Everyone is absolutely welcome, independent of age, gender, skin color, sexual orientation, political orientation, religion etc. We treat everyone respectfully and expect the same from anyone who travels with us.
During this Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic, there will be basic WiFi in most hotels. In Los Haitises, wifi is only avaiable in the restaurant area, not in the rooms. And in Villa Barrancoli on the north side of the Sierra de Bahoruco, there is no wifi at all. There will be no phone signal in our hotel at Lake Yojoa nor on the north coast. All hotels have electricity 24 hours. Outlets and plugs in Honduras are the same shape as in the United States.
We always make a point of buying locally, staying in locally run hotels, hiring local guides etc. No international hotel or restaurant chains, but Dominican based and Dominican run businesses. That way, everything you pay for this tour stays in the country and in the communities we visit. And it creates an opportunity to learn a little more about the country apart from its birds too.
Yes, of course, just send us an e-mail mentioning what you need and when, and we will make you a suggestion. We can book for you if you want us to.
No, we do not provide any insurance, and strongly recommend you obtain travel and/or medical and/or health insurance in your home country. It is also a good idea to provide us with a phone number and e-mail address of your insurer and your polis number to speed things up in case we need to contact them urgently for you while on the trip.
Apart from a certain level as fitness (see FAQ n° 12 and 13), we put no restrictions on who can join this Birding Honduras HIghlights Tour. Everyone is absolutely welcome, independent of age, gender, skin color, sexual orientation, political orientation, religion etc. We treat everyone respectfully and expect the same from anyone who travels with us. Do bear in mind that you are traveling in a developing country and to sometimes remote natural areas, which comes with both its own charm but also its own challenges: Comfort may not be what you are used to at home, there will be sounds and creatures of the wild, wifi and electricity may not be as readily available as in your home country.
You can book and pay for this Endemic Birds Tour to the Dominican Republic through Bluesky Wildlife. It is also possible to book it directly through Beaks and Peaks, in which case your payment will be processed through the secure platform WeTravel. Please consult our Terms and Conditions (https://www.beaksandpeaks.com/terms-and-conditions) for detailed information about payment methods and terms.
Contact us as soon as possible about the changes you want or need to make so we can figure out if and how we can accommodate you. For detailed information about cancellations and refunds, please consult our Terms and Conditions (https://www.beaksandpeaks.com/terms-and-conditions).
Please consult our Terms and Conditions ((https://www.beaksandpeaks.com/terms-and-conditions) for detailed information about cancellations and refunds.
Please consult our Terms and Conditions ((https://www.beaksandpeaks.com/terms-and-conditions) for detailed information about cancellations and refunds.
In addition to your regular packing list of clothes and toiletries, don’t forget the following items: light shirts with long sleeves; light long trousers; sweater; raincoat; sun hat or cap; waterproof footwear with good grip; insect repellent; sunscreen; plenty of your personal medicine and products for personal hygiene for the entire tip; camera with all the necessary accessories; binoculars; day pack.
We provide potable water throughout the tour (remember that tap water is not for drinking use!) but it is a good idea to bring your own refillable bottle or camel bag (it helps us keep plastic waste down). We provide all meals throughout the tour, whether as box meals or in hotels/restaurants. It is a good idea to bring a small day pack to carry some of your personal items (your water bottle, maybe some snacks, medicine, guide book, rain jacket etc.) during the walks.
Yes, we can, if we know well in advance. Please inform us of any dietary needs upon booking.
Yes, always bring some cash in local currency (Dominican Peso), and a credit card. In theory, the tour includes everything you need, but you might want to buy a souvenir or some extra snacks or a drink. Alcoholic beverages, personal purchases such as souvenirs, laundry, phone calls etc. are not included in the tour. Neither are tips or gratuities for guides and other service providers.
For the Endemic Birds Tour in the Dominican Republic, we can recommend the following books and apps: Books: Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti by S. Latta et al. Apps: Merlin by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (download Caribbean package)