Parque Nacional Los Haïtises
<img src="../parks/parks-haities.gif" width="120" height="85" align="right">Parque Nacional Los Haïtises has two distinct regions: the 208 sq. km of mangrove forest and swamp along the coast on the southern side of Samaná Bay; and the rest of the area known as Los Haïtises, which stretches from the town of Sabana de la Mar in the east to Sánchez in the north, accounting for a sizeable chunk (over 1,000 sq. km) of the northeast of the country. The inland portion of the park is characterized by thousands of mogotes or limestone hillocks, 2-300 meters in height and covered with tropical humid forest. Opportunities to see the park on foot are limited; and most organized tours use boats to explore the coastline west of Sabana de la Mar. This coastline is littered with numerous reefs, cays, lagoons and mangrove swamps, as well as several caves with with Taino drawings and rock carvings. Indeed, it is widely believed that the last of the Taino Indians died in Los Haïtises in the second half of the 16th century. The cave most geared to visitors is <b>Cueva de Willy</b> in the Bay of San Lorenzo. <b>Cueva de la Arena</b>, <b>Cueva de la Linea</b> and <b>Cueva del Ferrocarril</b> are all nearby, while <b>Cueva de San Gabriel</b> is further west along the coast.<br> <br> <span class="bigsubtitle">Fact File</span><br> <br> <b>Flora and fauna:</b> Although the quality of the soil in the park is generally poor because of the coral rock absorbing most of the surface fresh water, there is still a variety of vegetation thanks to the abnormally high rainfall (about 2,000mm a year). The most common trees are West Indian cedar, Hispaniolan mahogany, copey, American muskwood, and silk-cotton trees. In the mangrove swamps, red and white mangroves are common. <br> <br> The swampy areas along the coast are ideal breeding grounds for a wide range of birdlife. The most common species are the American frigate bird, brown pelican, little blue heron, and barn owl. The Hispaniolan parakeet is a rarer sight. <br> <br> The park's mammal life, meanwhile, includes the indigenous and rare solenodon and hutia. <br> <br> <b>Access:</b> You can access Los Haïtises by sea from the towns of Sanchez and Santa Bárbara de Samaná on the Samaná Peninsular. Getting to the caves in the Bay of San Lorenzo involves taking a boat from Sabana de la Mar to the Bambú Pier in Caño Hondo. From here, it is another 10 minutes by boat to the caves. Most of the larger travel agencies run tours to Los Haïtises. Doing it independently is tricky because of the lack of inland trails and your dependence on a boat. The main office of the Parque Nacional Los Haïtises is in Sabana de la Mar (54 Avenida Los Héroes; tel: 556 7333).
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