The Cabral Lagoon is a 5,615 hec protected wildlife refuge located in the southwestern region and is the largest freshwater wetland in the Dominican Republic. The Cabral Lagoon attracts large numbers of waders, terns, and gulls. More than 115 species of birds have been recorded here, including 46 species of migrants, 6 endemics, and 7 species considered threatened or endangered. But this site is particularly well-known for its huge numbers of migratory ducks in the northern fall and winter. Permanent resident species, like White-cheeked Pintail and Caribbean Coot are also well-represented even in the non-breeding season. Beyond waterfowl, the lagoon and surrounding area supports 12 Hispaniolan restricted-range species, including the threatened Hispaniolan Parakeet.
There are two ways to access the Cabral Lagoon. The first is a series of walking trails that leave from the town of Peñon. A local guide from the Ecological Society of El Peñon is required. The longest trail is the 6 km (3.7 mile) Guanaconel Trail which follows along the north shore of the lagoon and then rises to the top of the hill known as the Cerro de Cristobal. Another trail, the Barrancolí, is 3.6 km (2.2 miles) long and follows through thorn scrub vegetation to the northeast to arrive at the Cerro del Peñon Viejo overlook.
The shortest trail is the 1.4 km (0.9 mile), Iguana Viewpoint which contains both thorn scrub and lakeshore views, and also rises to the top of the Cerro del Peñon Viejo. The birds found here are typical species of the dry thorn scrub, including Broad-billed Tody, Northern Mockingbird, Stolid Flycatcher, and Greater Antillean Bullfinch, as well as some of the migratory warblers. Your second option for birdwatching is to hire a boat and guide from the town of Cabral. These tours are offered every day between 7:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Boats cost $RD 1500 for a 2-3 hr trip around lagoon.
Target species include West Indian Whistling-Duck, American Wigeon, Blue- winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, White- cheeked Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Caribbean Coot, Ring- billed Gull, Least Tern, Gull- billed Tern, Plain Pigeon, Hispaniolan Parakeet, Belted Kingfisher, Common Yellowthroat
From Santo Domingo, take the main highway towards Barahona, passing Baní and Azua. After about 2.5 hrs, and prior to reaching Barahona, you will arrive at the main, well-marked crossroads with a junction for Cabral, Duvergé and Jimaní. Turn right and in approximately 20 min you will reach the village of Cabral. Just two blocks past the town’s central park, a sign towards the left directs you to Polo, but turn right here and continue 0.5 km (0.3 miles) to the main park guardhouse which is on your left.
- Reserve hours: Tours 7 AM – 2 PM