Sunday, December 17, 2017

More than meets the eye: Callejón de la Loma

Callejón de la Loma Cabarete dominican republicCome, put your sneakers on we’re going for a walk.

Sightseeing fun spots is one of our favorite things to do. Each one of them seems to proudly carry it’s own unique style, more like a personality impressed in walls and structure. Our eyes quickly shift from side to side taking it all in: a small truck cruises slowly selling colorfull watermelons, further on a terrace is painted with a political party colors, the fish shop is packed with fresh catches of the day, a funky graffitti displays a black and white woman, a young man with dreadlocks drinks coffee as the dogs sunbathe on the side of the street.


Cabarete can be famous for many things, a surf town with its multi sports features, vibrant night life and great food joints, amongst others. However, there are certain areas that you probably can’t find on the main road, areas that can really give you the ultimate Dominican experience, right in the heart of Cabarete.

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If you’re planning your next trip to the North Coast, do consider taking a day or two (preferably more!) out of your schedule and dedicate it to the Callejón De La Loma.

Enter the wonder with a broad mix of funky shops, colmados (small supermarkets), art stands, live-music bars, motorbike mechanics and a handful of hair salons. It’s the main commercial road and the only street in town with a traffic light. 

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It’s name can be translated to “alleyway of the hill” and although allyways are considered narrow or small street spaces, this is anything but! Wether you want Jiu Jitsu lesson at Papo’s, paddleboarding in the lagoon, horseback riding in La Loma or just play basketball or baseball in the shared court, it would appear there’s always something to be seen and done in the Callejón. 

On the right side of the street just before Jensy’s Colmado, a mature man sits amongst all sorts of tropical fruits. His wise smile curls under a white moustache. He’s originally from Salcedo but he knows the Callejón better than anyone else: Bozo, the classic fruit seller, is sitting at his shack. His “negocio” (business) has been here for the last fifteen years. When asked about the Callejón and what it has to offer for the tourists, he was clear and simple in his words:

We want the tourists to come and live the experiencie outside of the beach and the hotels, into the streets. Callejón is one of the most important town attractions... Old local businesses were born here, and some new ones, too. The Callejón is the real town of Cabarete.”  

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Sophia Marie is one of the common cases of tourists that never left, she’s been living in the DR for 4 years and is now a local in El Callejón. “You wouldn't be able to tell at first sight, but after passing the speeding motorcycles and busy sidewalk restaurants of the callejón, you arrive at the tranquil natural reserve, where you can go hiking in the hills or bathing in the cool fresh water of the caves.” 


Parks and Caves


By natural reserve she refers to El Choco National Park and The Natural Monument of Cabarete and Goleta’s underwater caves.

This is a cool thing to explore if you’re into long walks while exploring the dense green forrest. You just can’t miss this magnificent scenery. The park itself measures about 77.5 km2, once there, you can enjoy the breathtaking sights of mountains, a jungle, the lagoons and it’s various caves along with original vegetation that’s been there for thousands of years.  

There are more than 30 caves around the area. The guided tour lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes, starting with the Voodoo Cave. This one which is known as the official entrance, where a huge column greets you. This natural column comes from the root of a rubber tree and it measures more than 60 meters, uniting the ceiling to the floor. 

A small amphitheater gives place to one of the caves known as the Pool Cave, this space was considered to be used for religious taíno indian rituals.  

Covered in stalagmites, the Pool Cave has a small sweet water lagoon as well. Visitors are allowed to hop in and cool off, but just keep in mind the water can be chilly. Did we mention that chilly for the locals is more or less 20 degrees celcius? We know… For some, that is just the refreshment needed.  

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If you enjoy wildlife, inside the Museum Cave are of plenty fruit bats and tiny “coquí” frogs gathered in the dark. Sometimes if it’s really quiet you can hear them singing. These caves can be dated back about 2 million years. 

The Cristal Cave displays a gallery of stalagmites in all its variations, shapes and colors. When touched (only by the tour guides) these make the sound of glass. The stalagmites and stalactites in the caves are close to 7 million years old. In here a small lagoon emerges as the entrance of a subterranean river that can only be explored with diving equipment. It’s depth is of 800 meters under the caves and has been visited by expert divers from all around the world. 


A cave diving video from the Dominican Republic Speleological Society  displays awesome footage and details from some of the underwater caves. Ps: The water here seems to have sprinkles in it! 

El Choco National Park is currently protected by dominican laws and it is considered an important ecological and cultural reserve, as well as a secret paradise. 

The Callejón offers all of this and more, a true mélange of dominican modern culture and million year old treasures. 

Enjoy your stroll!

Would you like to take a tour of La Loma? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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