We woke up Monday morning for another excursion. This is what I had been waiting for all week. I was so excited for this Magic Mushroom canyoning tour. This tour takes place on the mountain Cordillera Septentrional. The mountain reaches all the way from the northwestern coastal town of Monti Cristi, near the Haitian border, to the Samaná Peninsula in the east
We met our guides early morning in Cabarette. It’s right down the street from Fresh Fresh Cafe. Iguana Mama has other activities like biking, hiking, Zip Lining, Kayaking, Snorkeling, and more just incase jumping off cliffs doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in doing.
After meeting our guide, signing paperwork, and hanging around the Iguana Mama place, we headed out to meet our taxi so we could head up the mountain.
The drive was about 45 minutes up to our base camp. The base camp is where we get our wet suits on, our helmets, and put all of our belongings.
The provided breakfast sandwiches for all of us but we were all pretty full from our other breakfasts. I thought it was really nice of them to provide that for us.
The base camp was kind of in the middle of nowhere on a mountain. It was a beautiful drive up there. You get the chance to see the mountain side, the farms, and the life off the resort in the Dominican. The people there bust their butts to make a living, and to provide for their families. It is definitely a different world there and it makes you appreciate the way you’re brought up and it kind of gives you a reality check when it comes to how we take things for granted.
Even though there is a lot of poverty, it doesn’t take away from how beautiful the country is. It’s tropical, green, and absolutely gorgeous.
After leaving the camp, we got in another van, and headed twenty minutes towards the canyon entrance.
After the van dropped us off, it was another 20 minute walk to the canyon entrance.
The walk was beautiful. The sun was peaking in and out of the clouds and the rain would come and go.
We passed people on the motor cycles, and people sitting outside of their homes. You can tell they are used to the travelers who visit the canyon because they were so friendly and welcoming.
All the homes on the mountain were different. Some were run down, some where well kept and bright colored. There were even abandoned homes.
This was our main guide, Alejandro! And yes, we sang Alejandro! Alejandro! Ale Ale Jandro! The guides were awesome!
I know I take a lot of photos, but I just wanted to capture every moment, and everything that took my breath away. The pictures don’t even do this place justice. You have to experience it for yourself.
Dogs roamed free on the island. This dog had bright blue eyes and seemed way too chill. My dog would be jumping on every human being that walked by.
The cows also roamed free.
This is an example of how I take things for granted. I have a backyard with tons of space to air dry my clothes with the wind and air the earth provides, but instead, I throw it in the dryer and use up energy. My grandma still hangs her clothes up outside and I may invest in a clothes line this summer. It’s actually much better on the clothes and they last longer.
This was a cute house with tons of chickens and dogs near the canyon.
The chickens acted like dogs.
As you’re waking, they greet you, but they don’t jump or expect to be petted. Some of them acted as guard dogs, sniffing things out, and giving a little growl. Harmless, though!
I wanted to take one home. I’m a sucker for dogs!
We finally reached the canyon entrance. We all tightened our life vest and buckled our helmets.
We all knew our shoes were going to be demolished by the end of this hike and so we wore our old ones. I made the mistake of bringing old shoes with no grips on the bottom. I walked over 600 miles in my shoes I brought and so they had no grips left.
The rocks are very slippery and slimy, so bringing shoes with no grips was a bad idea. I have many bruises from the falls, so don’t make the same mistake I did and bring some shoes with grips!
After walking through some river water, we made it to our first cliff jump.
I liked that the water was crystal clear and you could see the bottom of where you’re jumping. You know for sure there are no rocks and you know for sure there are no weird animals swimming around there.
This was the first easy jump, even though it was kind of terrifying.
Taking this photo was so hard because the current is flowing you backwards and pushing your life jacket into the chin, but we made it!
I brought my Olympus tough waterproof camera in a plastic baggy with me. This was the first time testing it’s water ability and it passed. There is a little water blur on my head, but that’s ok 🙂
I had to wipe off the lens a couple of times because of the water spots, but other than that it took awesome photos by the water. I’m still too afraid to put the camera underwater but maybe I’ll test it out this summer or next time I’m in the Dominican.
Up next? Repelling down the Magic Mushroom! This was my first time repelling and I was so excited! Repelling is a lot less terrifying than jumping off the cliff.
Mascara was a bad idea. Don’t do that either.
You could see the excitement/fear on our faces half of the time!
Aj was always the first one to jump off or repel. She was pretty bad ass.
This is why they call it the magic mushroom. It looks like a mushroom. As soon as you repel to the bottom of the mushroom, you’ll hear the other guide whistle. When he whistles, you grab the harness and hipline to the middle of the water and then swim to the rocks.
Mascara getting worse…
It started to pour after we got off the magic mushroom. Watching the guide go last and make his way down was terrifying. He repelled without a harness for half the fall and then dove into the water off of the cliff. Very impressive!
Our next repel was 50 feet. You could either repel or jump. After watching one of the guides jump, we repelled.
This repel was a lot trickier than the first one.
See the top of the fall? There is a little cavelike tunnel and the water catches you during your repel. I literally thought I was going to die. My rope slipped under the cave and the water was gushing onto my face and body. I had to use all my strength to pull myself left onto the fall. I was just hanging for a while but made it over there. Repelling puts a lot of pressure on your back if you don’t use your leg muscles to pull yourself down.
Instead of dying, I just got a bruised and sliced buckle.
Our shoes wouldn’t be that clean for long…
We had one more 25 foot jump and then it was time to hike back up to the main road.
It started pouring during our hike up the cliff. Believe me, when the guides say its only a 10 minutes hike up, they actually mean 20 minutes. The hike was very steap, the rocks were slippery and one wrong move could leave you…well you know…
A twig flung and poked me directly in the eye. I ends dup climbing up the cliff with one eye shut. Not only did I have one eye shot, I lost my other contact, so I was basically blind.
Luckily, we all made it out alive.
It was a fifteen minute walk back to our van. We were covered in mud, soaked wearing wet suits, and it started pouring again. My wet suit wasn’t tight enough so every time I was in the water, about 20 lbs of water filled up the suit so it was so heavy and jiggly. It felt hilarious.
It felt so good to get that wet suit off. As soon as I took it off, several lbs of water poured out.
When we got back to the camp, they made us a traditional Domincan meal.
White rice, stewed chicken, warm vegetable salad, and beans! My mouth is watering again because this was so good! We were so lucky to have experienced a day like that! It’d definitely a day I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to go back!