Las Salinas de Baní
Salinas de Baní is located on the peninsula of Las Calderas approximately 60 km (37.3 miles) or about a 1.5-hour drive west of Santo Domingo. A large hyper-saline pond – Salado del Muerto – used for salt extraction, is the main attraction for birds, but the area is also characterized by extensive sand dunes, inter-dunal swales, thickets, mangroves, lagoons, mudflats, and both sandy and rocky beaches.
Point A. Start looking for birds on the mud flats on your right just after passing the usually unmanned first guard post. Proceed several yards further where there is a second post that is frequently occupied. Stop and ask the guard where to park, and ask permission to look for birds. This can be a very good place for shorebirds and waders.
Point B. After passing the naval base, continue another 2 km (1.2 miles). Look on your right where you will see less extensive sand and a sandbar in the bay. Here there are some unmarked trails through the dunes to the water’s edge where shorebirds are sometimes found. Look across the bay where flamingos may be seen at the edge of the mangroves.
Point C. After passing some houses, about 0.5 km (0.3 miles) further on you will once again see mud flats and mangroves on your right. Stop here and follow an unmarked foot trail though the thorn trees where you will reach a small bay surrounded by mangroves. This small pool can be a good place for over-wintering warblers, including Blackpoll Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush. It is also good for the permanent resident subspecies of the Yellow Warbler. You should also closely scan the mangroves at the edge for Clapper Rail.
Point D. Another 0.5 km (0.3 miles) further, the road will cross a culvert with mangroves on the right and a large lagoon on the left. You can find thousand of shorebirds.
Point E. Continue on by driving through the village of Salinas. Where the road forks, stay to the right, and then take the second left. Immediately after the turn there is a small area of wet mud flats on the right where you might find dozens of egrets and shorebirds. The dirt road then continues along the area of salt production to a small parking area. Leave your car here and walk across the dike between the salt works. A sand bar on the far left-hand side is a well-used resting spot for terns. Also look for gulls; an occasional vagrant will show up here. Among the shore birds be sure to look for Snowy Plovers.
Point F. After crossing the dike you can walk straight thru an area of dry thorn scrub and sand to arrive at the beach. This attracts a lot of terns and Magnificent Frigatebirds. In addition, there are usually a few Brown Boobies and other seabirds.
Point G. Return to the main street and turn left to drive between the bay and the saltworks. Before arriving at a large gate marking the entrance to the public beach, stop and park in an undeveloped lot on your left. Here a small muddy trail leads along the edge of the area of salt ponds to a place where one can often see many terns perched on posts.
Point H. You may also want to visit Los Corbanitos, a 45 minute drive. To reach Los Corbanitos return through Salinas towards Baní. Several kilometers beyond Salinas, look for a sign for Los Corbanitos and Palmar de Ocoa. Turn left here and continue 6 km (3.7 miles) to the village of Sabana Buey. At a fork in the road there is a very large statue of Mother Earth; take the left road. Approximately 0.5 km (0.3 miles) after a playing field take a left at the sign for Los Corbanitos. Follow this dirt road for 2 km (1.2 miles) to an area which appears to be an abandoned housing development. At the bottom of a long and steep hill, turn sharply to the left and drive along the flats to the shoreline. American Flamingo frequently congregate here, as well as other herons and egrets.
All egret and heron species present on the island may be seen here, as well as Clapper Rails and Whimbrels. Shorebirds are plentiful in the mudflats, coastal areas, and especially the salt pans. Nesting species at Salinas de Baní include Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Piping Plover, Least Tern, and Willet. Many warblers frequent the mangroves and thickets along the lagoons. The bay hosts boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. Many Hispaniolan rarities have first appeared here, including Black-legged Kittiwake, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed gulls, American Golden-Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Red-necked Phalarope.
American Flamingo, Brown Booby, Brown Pelican, Tricolored Heron, 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 Yellowlegs, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, 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, White- winged Dove, Northern Rough- winged Swallow, Yellow Warbler
To reach Salinas de Baní, take Ave. 27 de Febrero to the main highway leaving Santo Domingo to the west. After passing the large round-about of the flags, look for the entrance to the Autopista 6 de Noviembre. There is a $RD 30 peso toll on this road. After bypassing the exits for San Cristóbal, the first city you reach will be Baní. Just after crossing the Río Baní on a large bridge, you will pass a Burger King on the right and almost immediately the road divides. Take the left fork and pass through a small curve. Turn left again, and then the second right on Beller. There are blue and white signs for “Los Corbanitos” at each of these turns, as well as some signs for Salinas. Continue for about 1 km (0.6 miles) on Beller until the road forks where you will stay to the left, again following another Corbanitos sign. This road will continue for another 6 km (3.7 miles), passing through several villages, including Matanzas and Las Calderas, before arriving at the first guard post for the Dominican naval base at Las Calderas.