The Barahona Region
in the Dominican Republic

This is a vast, sprawling area that's endlessly fascinating.

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This isolated, remote region is not well know even by Dominicans in other parts of the DR. The Barahona region and all of the southwest are treated like they don't exist.

Barahona city, the area's only major town, doesn't always appear on the national TV weather forecasts, although locations in Haiti and Puerto Rico do. Yet it takes only about 3 hours to drive to Barahona from Santo Domingo.

Most guidebook information about the southwest is incorrect or too spotty to be helpful. Traveling times are often absurdly underestimated. For instance, one guidebook says it takes an hour to drive around Lago Enriquillo. From Barahona, which has the only decent hotels, it's a 4-hour trip around the lake, and that's pushing it.

Driving after dark is not advisable. The roads may be undergoing improvement if there's been a storm sections of pavement or bridges washed out.

And then there are the cows, horses and donkeys that roam freely and graze along the roadside. Many of the cows, just as they are depicted on the cow warning signs posted all over the southwest, are black and difficult to see at night.

At the least, plan on 3-5 days for exploring the Barahona region. You have 2 distinct routes, one along the coast and the other inland; both are incredibly scenic. Be sure you have a full gas tank before starting the coastal trip.

Gas stations are sparse after the first 50 miles. One nice thing: no matter how remote the gas station, the price is always the same, thanks to government price controls. Credit cards are not generally accepted.

You'll pass many military checkpoints along the way. I was simply waved through all of them. Off-duty soldiers at these checkpoints often signal they're looking for a lift by raising an arm, which is not the same thing as flagging you down. Most people ignore these hitchhikers, so you can, too.

Exploring the Barahona Region:

The Coastal Road to Pedernales
Spectacular beaches few tourists visit

The Inland Route & Lago Enriquillo
See where cars roll uphill

Of Witches & Brujos
A meeting with healer Dulce Maria who claims to have cured several million people.

Crocodiles Rock
A visit to Lago Enriquillo, Goat Island and the landlocked salt water crocodiles

Echoes of the Past
Visiting two Taino sites southwest of Santo Domingo

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