The Humedales del Ozama or Ozama Wetlands is located north of Santo Domingo. Now formally protected as Ozama National Park, the 4,700 ha wetlands have been designated as a protected area to preserve the upper watershed of the Ozama River – the principal river that runs through the capital city. The Ozama Wetlands are the second largest natural wetlands in the country, and is considered one of the greatest natural spectacles in the greater Santo Domingo region. Three lakes provide habitat for resident and migratory birds, including ducks, herons and egrets, and Limpkin. These include the Laguna Flamenca, the largest, as well as Laguna Manatí and Laguna Enea.
The Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources has recently spearheaded efforts to rescue the Ozama Wetlands and return them to better ecological functioning as a reserve for wildlife. Thousands of fish have been stocked in the lakes, and the zoo has released numbers of the threatened West Indian Whistling-Duck in this area. The goal of the government is to rescue these wetlands from previous years of abuse and convert them into a zone for ecotourism.
This protected area was only recently established; a guard house was added in late-2009 and two boats may be available with prior arrangements made, but there is as yet no organized system for visitors. However, the adventuresome may still visit the area. Trails exist but they are mainly cattle trails or those used by local farmers. As such they are unmarked and often muddy. Feel free to inquire at the guard house on the best areas to walk and bird, or feel free to wander. Be sure to check the lagoons for waterfowl and waders, but other specialties, like the Grasshopper Sparrow, will be found in the adjoining grasslands.
Target Species: West Indian Whistling- Duck, White- cheeked Pintail, Limpkin, Hispaniolan Lizard- Cuckoo, Northern Mockingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow- faced Grassquit, Grasshopper Sparrow
From Santo Domingo take Av. Maximo Gomez north to Villa Mella. Turn right just before the road ends at a T-intersection and continue on through Guanuma and La Victoria. The road here is very congested and narrow. After about 4 km (2.5 miles) look for a CHUCHU Gas (propane) station on the right. Here you will turn right and continue towards a big blue gas tank where you will turn left. After about 300 m there is a large colmado (food and variety store) on a corner and the road bends towards the right. Continue past a large farm on the right. At the end of the road turn left to enter a large field. Take care as the field is very muddy. Signs are as yet forthcoming, but at the moment there is one that identifies the site as “Humedal Manatí.”
The wetlands may also be entered from various public roads that run from Santo Domingo and through the area. One way to enter is by Avenida Charles deGaulle where it nears the Rio Ozama. You can also enter by the neighborhood known as Los Tres Brazos.