La Loma de la Joya de San Francisco is located about 20 km northwest of San Francisco de Macorís. The area is in the foothills of the Cordillera Septentrional and so is characterized by low mountains and ridge-lines separated by steep valleys and streams. La Joya is not our typical birdwatching venue, it is neither a park nor a private reserve. This is a working community of cacao growers, their families and friends, with a group of young ecologists dedicated to preserving their natural resources and their way of life. Trained in avian research programs, these young field biologists are eager to show the adventuresome traveler another side of life in the Dominican Republic, and to help you find some of the birds typical of the region’s cacao plantations. Visiting La Joya offers a great opportunity to gain a taste of typical rural life, food and culture.
Your guides to the La Joya area will be Eudes and Angelis Paulino. From the church where you meet your guides there is a nice flat walking trail with open fields. Look here for Vervain Hummingbird, Palmchat, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Hispaniolan Oriole, and other open field and generalist species. After exploring these open areas, the tour will move about 10 km to the Paulino family lands along the Río Bijao. Here you can take one of several different walks along small streams that run through organic cacao plantations. Louisiana Waterthrush over-winter along these streams, as well as the occasional Northern Waterthrush. The cacao supports a variety of other Neotropical migrants, as well as Broad-billed Tody and Hispaniolan Lizard-Cuckoo. In addition to birds, make sure to save time to learn about the art and practice of cacao production and be sure to try a cup of locally grown hot chocolate!
Target species for this site include Ruddy Quail- Dove, Hispaniolan Lizard- Cuckoo, Antillean Mango, Hispaniolan Emerald, Vervain Hummingbird, Broad- billed Tody, Narrow- billed Tody, Antillean Piculet, Hispaniolan Woodpecker, Bicknell’s Thrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Bananaquit, Black- crowned Palm- Tanager, Hispaniolan Oriole.
To reach San Francisco de Macorís from Santo Domingo you must drive north of Santo Domingo on the Autopista Duarte. After a drive of about an hour and a half, watch for the right-hand exit for San Francisco de Macorís. From the Cruce de San Francisco de Macorís the road then continues for 20 km thru rice fields and farming villages.
Entering San Francisco, continue straight until you come to a well marked fork by the park. Take the left hand fork, marked to Tenares and Salcedo. This road bends right and then goes straight. Follow this until you reach the four-lane boulevard, Av. Libertad. Go left and continue along this main road for about 8 km (5.0 miles). Look for a sign on the right indicating the entrance to La Joya, El Cigual, La Malena and El Guineal. Turn right here and continue for about 1 km (0.6 miles) where you will encounter a prominent colmado (convenience store), and a similar road sign; follow this road for another 2 km (1.2 miles). Be on the look out for the Loma de La Joya School where you will meet your guides.