Dominican Republic

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Nearly 800,000 Canadians can’t be wrong. That’s how many visit the Dominican Republic each year, with numbers growing.

It’s a special place for Canada’s vacationers and business travellers, with an eclectic collection of irresistible attractions. Wherever you go, you know you’ll find the country’s famous rum and cigars, resorts and beaches, adventure tourism, and beautiful year-round weather.

Here are seven true adventure things you must try in the Dominican Republic:

1. At Monkey Jungle, enjoy the feeling of puppy-sized capuchin monkeys hopping on your back, reaching over to nibble a plate of munchies from your hands. See these adorable creatures scamper up trees and bounce from branch to branch. While there, enjoy the 4,500- foot, seven-station zip lines as you whip across from treetop to treetop. (Without the monkeys, though.)

2. Ride the 75-foot Tip Top Catamaran. While out in the waters, enjoy the chance to view the vibrant underwater coral reefs and tropical schools of fish, with provided snorkelling equipment included. Maybe you’ll get facetime with a puffer fish or have the opportunity to cup a starfish in your palm. Lunch and open bar are included.

3. Twenty-Seven Waterfalls of Rio Damajagua is a natural wonder, tucked away in the Northern Corridor mountain range. This isn’t merely an hours-long hiking through the woodlands. It’s about smelling the fresh air, the fun of sliding on smooth rock waterfalls, and cliff-jumping into natural rushing waters. In late summer, fruit will bear on trees on the trail, including coconut, avocado, and mangoes.

4. Think of yourself in the ocean, on a surfboard, propelled by a giant inflatable kite, and you have kiteboarding. Dare2Fly provides kiteboarding packages, lessons, and rentals. Established in 1999, it touts itself as one of the first kiteboarding schools in Cabarete, and is located at the perfectly named Kite Beach, where it’s said that the reef also creates nice waves for surfers and kiteboarders.

Newbies, take note: it could take an entire day of training, as well as ample muscle stamina, to successfully navigate the wind and kite. But as is evidenced by the scores of wave-riders, this is a high- adrenaline sport worth trying.

5. What’s the Dominican without rum, specifically its household brand, Brugal. Take the factory tour, where you’ll be shown how late 19th-century oxen- powered “machines” used to grind sugar cane stalk-by-stalk, and go inside the modern facility, where some 350,000 bottles are filled daily. It’s interesting to note that there are several varieties of aged rum, about only 30% of it is imported. (Of course, you can enjoy the free samples too.)

6. Outback Adventures’ ATV tours will take you and your buggy through back roads, dirt roads and the jungle at speeds up to 45 km/h. Take an in-between break with a wade through the river or relax by the beachfront before getting back in the vehicle to kick up some more sand. beachfront before getting back in the vehicle to kick up some more sand.

7. Try a morning horseback ride at Rancho Luisa y Tommy. It’s run by 30-year-old Quebec expat Tommy Bernard, an affable fellow who’ll treat you to engaging conversation on topics such as animals, his adopted country, and just about anything in life.

Swirl through the winding trails of the countryside, view the stunning mountainside scenery, and cross through fresh running streams. Pass by several fruit trees including breadfruit, mango, almond, pineapple, plum, coconut, and avocado. (En route, we nibbled on fresh- picked cherries and passionfruit.) The country adventure also took us through not one, but two cheesemaker stops, where we sampled just-made white and orange cheeses.

Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer

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