Our trip started in Santo Domingo, the capital, from where we departed at approximately 8:00 AM. Had we gone on this trip a week earlier we would have had to drive for close to three hours just to get to Punta Cana but thanks to the new highway (touristic boulevard) we arrived in just under two hours.
Since we got there a little early we had to wait a while for our guide to become available so we took that time to put on our swimsuits because we realized we wouldn’t be able to do so once we began our tour of the park. We recommend you go with your swimsuit already on.
Our guide Christiaan came to get us and our approximately two and half hour tour of the Indigenous Eyes Reserve finally began. Christiaan was very knowledgeable on everything form to the flora and fauna which made our hike through the park all the more enjoyable.
Inside the Park
The forest on the reserve is subtropical and secondary, meaning the trees are not older than 150-200 years old; home to more than 500 species of plants, 36% of which are endemic to the Dominican Republic.
The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve is the only private forest in Punta Cana and is managed by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation. Their purpose is to educate visitors and to protect/repopulate endangered species not only from the DR but from the entire world. Universities from the United States and Europe use this reserve for scientific research which is why touristic visits to the park are somewhat limited.
Our favorite feature of the reserve are its 12 crystal clear lagoons in 3 of which you can actually swim! They all have Taíno names (the Taínos were indigenous people who inhabited the island at the time of Colombus’ arrival) some of the names are Yucabu, Bayguá, Yauya, Guácara, Turey and Guamá which is the largest and deepest of all the lagoons and was reserved only for the Taíno chief.
The water is cold but refreshing after all the walking around in the humid forest. The Guamá lagoon is over 8 meters deep so we recommend bringing arm inflatables for small children to stay afloat since there are no shallow areas in this lagoon. We felt in tune with nature in this secluded natural swimming pool, it’s a feeling hard to describe with words, can’t wait to go there again.
This reserve is not very advertised due to the fact that the ecological foundation is not very thrilled to let visitors inside and this makes it a hidden gem at the heart of Punta Cana.
How to visit?
You can visit the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park by going on the SEGWAY ECO-TOUR or by contacting the reserve directly: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Phone: 809-959-9221 to arrange a visit. (entrance fee is 25 USD per person and 50 USD p/p for a guided visit). Self guided visits are free of charge for hotel guests at Tortuga Bay and The Puntacana Hotel as well as Puntacana Resort & Club homeowners and residents.