Hispaniolan Endemics

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Beaks and Peaks
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6 reviews
Duration: 10 days
Group size: 3 - 999
Hispaniolan Endemics
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Beaks and Peaks
  • Facebook verified
  • Twitter verified
6 reviews

Duration: 10 days
Group size: 3 - 999

About this trip

This Dominican Republic Endemics Tour was elaborated for the more avid birders. We will have some time to learn about culture, history, and nature in general, but the focus is clearly on seeing all or most of the country endemics (31 in total) and regional endemics.

The trip is not particularly strenuous. The walks are usually short, and even on the longest hikes restricted to about 3h. We will walk on nature trails, but they generally are relatively flat and not difficult to walk. Of course, we also walk slowly, as we will be birding all the time. Anyone in reasonably good health and with a general level of fitness can take the tour. On several occasions, birding will be from the car and we will make stops along the way where we walk only short stretches, looking for particular species or following a flock.

The car rides can be tiring, especially along Zapotén and Cachote road. We will be traveling in a 4WD high-clearance vehicle (the main reason for the limited number of participants on the tour), and you will notice that is absolutely necessary. Roads are sometimes not even roads but rather dry river beds. However, your endurance will be rewarded with some excellent species. Other drives, to get us from A to B can take up to 4h on good roads, although we try to limit the long driving days during the tour.

Trip overview

D1 Arrival Santo Domingo airport & Transfer to Sabana de la Mar

D2 Birding in Los Haitises NP

D3 Birding in Los Haitises NP & Transfer to Santo Domingo

D4 Birding in Botanical Garden & Transfer to Cabo Rojo

D5 Birding in Cabo Rojo & along Alcoa Road

D6 Birding along Cachote Road

D7 Free morning & Transfer to Villa Barrancoli

D8 Birding along Zapotén road

D9 Birding along Rabo de Gato trail & Transfer to Santo Domingo

D10 Departure Santo Domingo airport

About the Dominican Republic

The island of Hispaniola is shared by the Dominican Republic in the east and Haiti in the west. With a surface of about 76,000km², it is the second largest island in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic occupies roughly two thirds of its land mass, and Haiti the remaining third. It is also the most populous island of the Caribbean archipelago, counting over 11mio Haitians and a good 10mio Dominicans. 

When it comes to bird life, Hispaniola benefits from its unique location: It sits on an oceanic archipelago between the Caribbean Sea in the south and the Pacific Ocean in the north, and pretty much in the middle between North and South America. It may not have the high species numbers of other countries in the Americas (though it still counts just over 300 species total), but it has relatively high numbers of endemic and regional endemic species.  In total, Hispaniola boasts 31 strict endemics (that is, species that are not found anywhere else in the world). Only one of those – Grey-crowned Palm-Tanager – has not been seen in the Dominican Republic, since it is restricted to southwestern Haiti. Besides the strict endemics, Hispaniola is also home to about 20 regional endemics, or species only found in the Caribbean. Then we are not talking yet about the nearly 50 resident sub-species. And on top of that, the island is an important wintering or stopover site for hosts of migratory warblers, ducks, and shorebirds that are a lot easier to see here in winter than in North America in summer, simply because they are concentrated in a much smaller area.

Hispaniola also enjoys a wonderfully varied geography and habitats: from lowland swamps and rainforest, to broad savannahs, to arid deserts, to montane rainforest, to highland pine forests. It has several unique geographical features, like Lago Enriquillo, a salt lake 40m below sea level, and Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the whole Caribbean 3,145m.

Culturally, Quisqueya, as Dominicans affectionately call their home (meaning “mother of all lands”) is also a country of superlatives. This was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Americas or the “New World,” with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492. Aside from choosing the Dominican Republic as his sole residence in the region­–a land blessed with fertile soil and gold deposits–Columbus and the Spanish Crown used the country as a launching pad for conquests across the Caribbean and United States. Today, the first city of the Americas, Santo Domingo, is the capital of the Dominican Republic, and continues to thrive while preserving its history and original Spanish architecture.

Thanks to its good connections to both the rest of the Americas and to Europe, its good infrastructure, variety and diversity in landscapes, flora, fauna and things to do, its pleasant climate, its laid-back vibe and its delicious gastronomy, the Dominican Republic is bound to conquer a space in any visitor’s heart.

Practical information


The climate in the Dominican Republic is best described as a tropical, with sunny days year-round and average annual temperatures hovering just below 80°F (26° C). Variations from that average are determined more by altitude than anything else. Temperatures at higher elevations in the central mountain range, the Cordillera Central, can drop into the 60s F (17°C), and it’s not uncommon to see temperatures above 90°F (32°C) on the coastal plains. Northeast trade winds blow off the Atlantic year-round and are especially welcome on the northern side of the island. The average temperature in the capital, Santo Domingo, is 75°F (24°C) in January and 80°F (27°C) in July.

Changes in seasons in the Dominican Republic means changes in rainfall patterns as opposed to changes in temperature. The rainy season for the north coast runs from November to January; for the rest of the country, rain falls more regularly between May and November. During the rainy season, rains tend to fall in the afternoons in short bursts after which sunshine returns. The mountainous northeast see the heaviest rains, with average annual rainfall of more than 100inches (2,540mm). The western valleys along the Haitian border, as well as the northwestern and southeastern extremes of the country, are relatively arid and usually see only about 20 inches (500mm) of annual rainfall. The humidity can be oppressive during the heat of summer months, but winter brings relief in the form of cooler, dry nights.

Generally, hurricane season in the Dominican Republic is from June to November. Historically the most active month is September, but some of the most severe and destructive storms have come significantly earlier in the year; it’s impossible to predict when the storms will come. While a major storm hits once every quarter-century, the island is affected by at least outer bands of storms more frequently—close to every five years.


The Dominican Republic is mostly Spanish-speaking. English and French are mandatory foreign languages in school,although the quality of foreign languages teaching is poor. Haitian Creole is the largest minority language in the Dominican Republic and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. There is a community of a few thousand people whose ancestors spoke Samaná English in the Samaná Peninsula. They are the descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans who arrived in the nineteenth century, but only a few elders speak the language today. Tourism, American pop culture, the influence of Dominican Americans, and the country’s economic ties with the United States motivate other Dominicans to learn English. The Dominican Republic is ranked 2nd in Latin America and 23rd in the World on English proficiency. 


The local currency is the Dominican Peso. The exchange rate varies, but is currently around 50.6 DOP for 1 USD or 57 DOP for 1 EUR. Most There are ATMs in Santo Domingo, which work with Visa and Mastercard. Be careful with money and other valuables. Many areas in the Dominican Republic are poor, and temptation can get the better of some. Try not to display your money, jewelry and other valuables more than necessary.

Health & Hygiene

Consult your doctor timely about vaccinations and medication and inform us of any health issues or dietary requirements, so we can take the best possible care of you.

Tap water in the Dominican Republic is not for drinking. Hotels will provide purified water for drinking, brushing teeth etc. 

Hotels we visit are comfortable to basic. They are clean, have hot water, usually have a fan or A/C (though not always), provide purified water for drinking, and good overall service. Restaurants we select to take our clients have been trained to cater for tourists. They maintain the highest possible hygiene standards and use purified water in all drinks (and ice) and food preparations.

Even when taking all possible precautionary measures, the change of climate, food, activity level etc. sometimes weighs on people, causing nausea or diarrhea, which can ruin a day. Bring the necessary medicine to alleviate symptoms of the most common traveler’s conditions. We also always carry a first aid kit in case you need it.

Recommended bird guide

Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Steven Latta et al. (2006)

Birds of the West Indies. Princeton Fieldguide. Herbert Raffaele et al. (2003)

What to bring (in addition to your usual packing list)

- Light shirts with long sleeves;

- Light long trousers;

- Raincoat;

- Sun hat or cap;

- Footwear with good grip;

- Repellent;

- Sunscreen;

- Personal medicine and products for personal hygiene);

- Camera;

- Binoculars.

What’s included

  • accommodation
    9 hotel nights in double room
  • transportation
    in-country transportation throughout the trip in private vehicle
  • food & drinks
    3 meals per day, starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on day 10, including non-alcoholic beverages
  • entrances & activities
    all entrances fees to the parks and reserves and all activities as described in the detailed itinerary
  • guiding
    all guiding fees (specialized, bilingual birding lead guide & local guides)
  • taxes
    vat & tourism tax
  • airfare
    international airfare to/from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • insurance
    we highly recommend all travelers to get travel and health insurance in their country of origin
  • taxes
    exit/departure/airport tax if not included in your airfare
  • extras
    alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, laundry, any personal purchases
  • tips
    any voluntary tips or gratuities for staff, service providers, guides

Available Packages

Group size: 4 to 6

Price per person for the tour with 4 to 6 participants.

Deposit: $1920
Group size: 3

Price per person for the tour with 3 participants.

Deposit: $2175
Group size: 2

Price per person for the tour with 2 participants.

Deposit: $2890
Group size: 1

Price for the tour with 1 participant (fully private).

Deposit: $0

Available options

Single Supplement


Day 1
Arrival Santo Domingo airport & Transfer to Sabana de la Mar

We will be waiting for you at Las Americas international airport in Santo Domingo. As soon as the group is complete, we drive to Sabana de la Mar, on the northern shore of the island. We will likely arrive late, so after our first dinner together we crawl into bed to be fit for our first birding day tomorrow! Or if you still have some energy we could give the Ashy-faced Owl a first go.

Your Organizer

Beaks and Peaks
6 reviews
Beaks and Peaks is an ethically and ecologically responsible birding and adventure tour company based in Gracias Lempira, Honduras. Sustainability, authenticity and diversity are the core values our company is built on. In combining the extensive knowledge and experience of Latin America’s very best guides and naturalists with the hospitality and authenticity of the local communities we strive to create a successful, productive partnership that benefits all.


This was my first trip to Honduras and William, GM and Tour Leader at Beaks and Peaks was awesome! He is an incredibly knowledgeable birder. The finest birding guide I have ever had the pleasure of working with. For the first few days, almost every bird was a lifer for me, which was to be expected. I'm sure we didn't miss a single species! William knew just where to expect certain species and we also saw a few very rare birds. Our trip began normally enough, but midway through, the country was locked down because of the virus, COVID-19. William kept informed and we continued to bird as planned. William took very good care of us and went above and beyond the duties of guide to help us feel worry free in this crazy time. He made sure we weren't left stranded and looked after us like family. I'm not sure what we would have done without his help. We were lucky to have Katinka, Operations Manager and Tour Leader join us at the end of the tour. Their combined expertise is amazing! I would recommend this tour, it was wonderful. The country was beautiful, the lodges were first rate, and the food was phenomenal. I can't say enough good things about William and Katinka of Beaks and Peaks.
By Joan V for Lake Yojoa & North Coast on 03 Apr, 2020
We have recently returned from a wonderful 18 day holiday with Beaks and Peaks. The focus of the first five days was Mayan culture and we had a spectacular time at Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras. Our Mayan guides at both sites were superb with a wonderful ability to bring the ancient ruins to life. William of B&P included some super birding in and around the ruins and the whole experience was truly memorable. This was helped greatly by stays at the Tikal Jungle Lodge and Hacienda San Lucas in Copan. The remainder of the holiday focussed on birding in Honduras. The country is a largely undiscovered gem: great birds especially at migration time, good to very good, clean lodges set in jungle reserves or on the edge of National Parks with excellent food – both local and western. Guanaja was a fitting finale – a beautiful island that hasn’t even made it into the Lonely Planet – white sandy beaches, warm sea, a day trip around the island by boat (there are essentially no roads), some Yucatan bird specials and wonderfully hospitable people and clean well-appointed guesthouses. William was both a good and thoughtful host as well as being an excellent bird guide. Through his contacts we met many interesting people and had a chance to learn something of the culture and history of the region – from the founding of the State of Honduras to the details of growing coffee and making chocolate. We drove from Copan in the west, via Gracias, La Esperanza, Lake Yojoa and the Panacam Lodge, to Pico Bonito Lodge between Tela and La Ceiba. Quite a lot of driving, but the roads were generally good. We flew from La Ceiba to Guanaja and back – about 30 min flight. The only downside to the trip was an unexpected 3-day cold front from the north which brought lots of rain and unseasonably cold weather – which meant we missed a few birding possibilities. It was nevertheless a first class trip.
By John G for Mayas and Birds 2020 on 08 Feb, 2020
My recent bird photography excursion to beautiful Central American country of Honduras has proven to be quite fruitful. Yielding a great number of exotic bird species to my lifer list thanks to the amazing team of William Orellana and Katinka Domen of Beaks and Peaks. This adventure tour company is by far the most hands on, professional, knowledgeable, friendly, attentive and accommodating outfit I have had the pleasure to employ. I always felt safe and in good hands with William throughout my 5 day private excusion. Catering to off the beaten path adventures (both private and small groups), Beaks and Peaks takes you to places no one else goes. This exotic central American country still has unspoiled natural places where you can spend hours, days trekking through mountains and forests without ever encountering another person. You can truly feel one with nature. A true nature lovers paradise. William (aka, to me as the "bird whisper"), along with Katinka have an amazing nack of locating birds, coupled with their extensive knowledge of birds will make your experience truly one you will never forget. William's enthusiasm and unrelenting commitment and love of birding, enables you to get the birds you came to see, along with others you didn't expect. Our home base was at a wonderful National Park lodge called Panacam. Within 20 minutes of arriving at the lodge I was able to photograph 12 different exotic species of birds. You can just stay at the lodge and within several feet of you room you can start bird watching or photographing. This place is that amazing. Rooms extremely clean, food very good, and service excellent. Although Beaks and Peaks is located in Honduras, they also organize tours to Equador, Colombia and Peru, and more locations to be added in the future. Staying at top notch lodgings whatever country you choose. With Beaks and Peaks Adventure Tours you are always looked after with top notch professional personal attention and care. With Beaks and Peaks all you need is your camera, binoculars and sense of adventure. Really a great experience!!!!! Carlo @tikimon1021
By Carlo B for Private Photography Tour Honduras on 15 Apr, 2019
Our guide Katinka was the best, very knowledgeable, helpful, pleasant and she wanted to do the best that she could for us. The lodges we stayed at were top rate with great food, very helpful staff and comfortable accommodations. The tour was quite strenuous but Katinka on the whole made sure we did not over stress ourselves. She made changes on the fly to take in sites that we were not expecting since we had already seen some target birds elsewhere. Over all it was a wonderful experience. Have to admit the people of Honduras are wonderfully friendly and cheerful. We saw over 320 species of birds including many hummingbirds.
By Otto P for 12-day Honduras Birding Highlights on 23 Mar, 2019
This has been a wonderful experience. Having met William and Katinka here in the USA, we were prepared for a rich and thoroughly enjoyable tour, but we could not have imagined how marvelous and personally rewarding it would be. The tour sounded perfect on paper, but still we kept being amazed by all the friendly, interesting local people we met and interacted with, by the many beautiful national parks, world heritage sites, and other cultural sites we visited, by all the incredible birds William (our guide) found for us and his obvious desire that we each see them in the scope and in our binoculars and get to know their habitats and behavior, and by all our deeply thoughtful discussions with William along the way, while driving, and during all the delicious meals. This is a person who deeply loves and cares about his country, is committed to building a more sustainable future from the ground up, and has a passion to transmit his understanding and appreciation of Honduras to others. He engages easily and meaningfully with people from all walks of life, both locals and visitors from afar, and wants to help us to do so too. We also had an opportunity to spend some time with Katinka, who was out with a small group of her own on a different itinerary that intersected with us at one lodging, and it was clear that members of her group felt the same way about her as we did about William. The experience has been truly extraordinary.
By Susan F for People, parks and cultures of Honduras (11 Feb 2019 departure) on 24 Feb, 2019
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