El Choco National Park, Cabarete
El Choco National Park (also known as the Cabarete and Golte Protected Area) is located near the burgeoning adventure-tour destination of Cabarete on the north coast of the island. Squeezed between the Cordillera Septentrional to the south and the Cabarete Lagoon to the north, this 7,700 ha park consists mainly of limestone hills or mogotes, small farms and conucos, pastures, and patches of extensive forest. There are also two large lagoons in El Choco, many caves, and freshwater springs. The park hosts a wide variety of birds that are typical of the coastal lowlands and agricultural areas on the island. Tourists visiting the world famous windsurfing and kiteboarding center of Cabarete that may be looking for other diversions would find in El Choco a good introduction to the Hispaniolan avifauna. Because this relatively new park still lacks marked hiking trails, and contains a dizzying maze of unmarked footpaths and dense vegetation, a guide is highly required for this site.
El Choco National Park is at present a maze of unmarked paths and it is extremely easy to lose oneself among the mogotes, paths and thick vegetation. No map is available. We highly recommend that your first visit be with a reputable guide company. Most guides will likely focus on the caves in the park, but the eco-adventure travel agency Iguana Mama, is very well respected, and has some guides that are knowledgeable of birds (see Logistics, below). The walking terrain is mainly level with a few steeper sections and some muddy spots.
Target Species: Hispaniolan Lizard- Cuckoo, Smooth- billed Ani, Antillean Palm- Swift, Vervain Hummingbird, Broad- billed Tody, Antillean Piculet, Palmchat, Bananaquit, Greater Antillean Bullfinch
Cabarete is located about 32.2 km (20 miles) east of Puerto Plata on the C-5 highway, or about 48.3 km (30 miles) west of Río San Juan. The main entrance to El Choco National Park is on the east side of Cabarete at the end of the “Callejon de la Loma” road; visitors may enter the park at the Cabarete Caves office.
An alternative route for the adventuresome is to travel on a local road of about 19 km (11.8 miles) that begins about 3 km (1.9 miles) east of Sosua and is marked only by a small “El Choco / Brugal” sign. This road runs to the south of the park and could provide a good introduction to the natural history of the area. From the turnoff from the C-5 you will go south for 8-10 km (5.0 – 6.2 miles), passing through the village of El Choco, and reaching the mogotes. Continue on for about 14 km (8.7 miles) before arriving at Cuesta Arriba on Highway 21. Here you will turn left and in 5 km (3.1 miles) you will arrive again on the C-5 at the Cruce de Sabaneta de Yásica, only 11.3 km (7 miles) east of Cabarete.