Morpheus up the jungle….

Thursday morning we were up early – I sorted out the marina formalities and eventually we slipped from our dock by about 9.45…. and headed the ten miles over to Los Haitises National Park.   Haitises means ‘highlands’ or ‘mountain range’ in the Taino Indian language which are the Dominican Republic’s original inhabitants and the national park covers 1,600 square kilometres with only a small portion of the park being open to the public.   The national park is home to untouched mangrove forests, Taino cave drawings, secluded beaches, pirate hideouts and a grand diversity of endemic flora and fauna.

We had a very brisk and enjoyable downwind 10 mile sail with up to 30 knots and big waves pushing us along.

Sailing across Samana Bay 2 Sailing across Samana Bay

As we approached the mangroves we were amazed by the scenery beyond. We felt our way inside and got a spot anchored behind a Canadian cruising boat At Last in 15 feet of water.     This is an amazing anchorage – limestone cliffs covered in abundance of lush growth extending below into the sea with small islands and deep hollows all in the shelter of mangrove swamps which kept the sea flat even though it was running really fast outside…..   Check out this panoramic shot.

Panorama of the anchorage

We quickly took the outboard off the rail, got dink back in the water and reassembled, and headed off to explore. We went by At Last on the way and organised sundowners for later back on Morphie. We went up and down little mangrove swamps and rivers; found the entrances to the caves; and just generally got blown away by the beauty of this natural oasis. The sea was green and full of nutrients but still looked majestic somehow….

Los Haitises 1 Los Haitises 2 Los Haitises 3 Los Haitises 4 Los Haitises 5 Los Haitises 6 Los Haitises 7 Los Haitises 8 Los Haitises 9 Los Haitises 10 Los Haitises 11 Los Haitises 12 Los Haitises 13

Back on board we entertained Dave, Corrine and their dog Libby for sundowners – a few dark and stormies were imbibed along with a fair amount of cheese. Including Libby who has a fondness for it….   She is so cute we could certainly have let her stay!

Sundowners Libby the boat dog

Friday morning and up at a reasonable time – today we are going to explore the two caves which were once used by Taino Indians for more than a millennium before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.   We said goodbye to At Last who were heading back to the marina and dinked around to the entrance near the rangers lodge.   The first cave Cueva de la Arena is located on a secluded beach and we enjoyed our visit to them, completely on our own before the first set of tourists arrived for the day.

Los Haitises Caves 2 Los Haitises Caves 3 Los Haitises CAves 4 Los Haitises Caves 5 Los Haitises Caves 6 Los Haitises Caves 7

Having got our fill of these we then dinked around to the second cave Cueva de la Linea which is located deeper in the forest and is filled with Taino pictoglyphs.      This cave was really dark and of course we didn’t have a guide nor a torch with us – but we managed to get some natural light through some of the holes in the caverns and see some pictoglyphs. Unfortunately no flash photography was allowed… only a few photos.   Was an enjoyable experience.

Los Haitises Caves Los Haitises Caves 1 Los Haitises Caves 1.1 Los Haitises Caves 8 Los Haitises Caves 9

On the way back we dinked by a broken down old pier where the pelicans and the gulls hang out – all the time being circled by buzzards and frigate birds…..

Bird stop 1 Bird stop 2 Bird stop 3 Bird stop 4 Bird stop 5 Bird stop 6

We then went exploring further into the mangroves looking for a river which leads to an eco lodge. We found it – took the right hand turn – and carried on inland for about a mile while herons kept flying around ahead of us being startled by our arrival….   We found an area where boats tie up – so locked up dink – and went exploring. Well it was hot – and the track went on for a while – but we said hello to a few horses wandering around – and then came to a junction.

Trek to the eco lodge Horses

We had now spotted a rooftop peeking through so turned right and ended up at the Paraiso Cano Hondo eco resort. An amazing place – buildings created out of stones and natural waterfalls cascading into loads of pools…..     We had a couple of beers, wandered around, enjoyed the views, took some photos vowing to return the following day before departing for Morphie.

Eco 1 Eco 2 Eco 3 Eco 4 Eco 5 Eco 6 Eco 7 Eco 8 Eco 9 Eco 10 View from ecolodge

When we got back to the anchorage we had been joined by a large motoryacht so we had company for the night – which was a good thing. This is a pretty isolated place after the tourist day trip boats have left for the day! We had a quiet night in the cockpit – enjoyed a stormy sunset – and so to bed.

Sunset over Los Haitises

Saturday morning and we waited for the rain to stop before heading off out with a trip to the eco lodge planned. We had to go up and down for a little while before we could find the correct river again – and eventually we found it.   The trip up the river was amazing – this time we saw loads of eagles circling…..   Locked up dink, did the trek and came across this cow playing in the swings LOL.

Richard the explorerCow in the swings

We entered the resort – this time we had to pay $2.50 each to use the facilities – oh well, never mind.   We had a wonderful fresh grilled fish lunch with sticky rice and steamed vegetables and then wandered down to the pool and lazed around. We did go bobbing for a short while but wow the water was way too cold to stay in long.   But, of course, we did have to do the obligatory under the waterfall shots – brrrrrrr……

Richard in the waterfall Jan in the waterfal

We had had a very special day….and had big grins on our faces as we left the resort.   Back to dink – and I managed to catch my bum on a nail on the dock so another swimsuit bites the dust! – then meandered back through the mangroves to Morphie.   She was completely alone this time so looks like we are the only ones here tonight.

Morphie up the jungle

We had dinner and a quiet night – we were sitting in the cockpit in the dark when we heard two pirogues very near to us – and they circled us but Richard quickly put lights on down below and they headed off.   Phew…. And so to bed.

Sunday morning and we were up really early. The earlier rain had really flattened the sea so we made the most of it – motored out accompanied by two large dolphins briefly – and went all the way back out to the entrance of Samana Bay to whale watch…

Flat calm after the rain Goodbye Los Haitises

By this time loads of tourist whale watching boats were out and about and we watched then keenly through binoculars to see if there were any sightings.   Sadly there were none so we turned about and sailed back to the marina in very light airs…..   Never mind.   Back into a slip we sorted out the paperwork and I spoke to Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day and check our flowers had arrived before heading off to do laundry while Richard cleaned all the salt off Morphie’s topsides.   Later on we went over to At Last for sundowners – they are leaving for Puerto Rico tomorrow – and met their buddy boats…. We had a really nice evening.

This morning – Monday – I’m catching up with the blog while Richard is out in dink going around the hull to clean off all the salt and then we’re planning a pool afternoon. Tomorrow we are going to hire a car for a couple of days to continue exploring.

Bye for now