Salto El Limón
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Nestled in a thickly forested area in the middle of the Samaná Peninsula, northwest of the town of Samaná, is Salto El Limón (Lemon Waterfall). This 52-meter-high cascade falls into a swimming hole, giving a most refreshing end to the somewhat difficult, and at times hair-raising, trek it takes to get there.
Most people go to the waterfall by horseback. Paradas (literally “stops,” but in this instance it means a horseback-riding tour operator) line the highway that cuts across the peninsula from El Limón to Samaná. These outfitters’ routes vary, but most will provide your party with a horse, a guide who will walk beside you up the mountain, and the option of a lunch prepared for you upon your return. It is an awesome experience that shouldn’t be missed when you visit the peninsula.
Although the horses take you most of the way, you will need to make a descent to the Salto’s pool from a lookout point—about a 15-minute jaunt by foot and it is rather steep in spots. Only those who are in good physical condition should do this hike. Since you will be riding horses, wearing long pants is a great idea. But don’t forget your bathing suit; the dip in the pool is a refreshing reward after this hike.
One operator is Parada Ramona y Basilio (El Café, Carretera Samaná–El Limón, Km 23, tel. 809/282-6309, US$22). While the trail that this parada follows is one of the longer ones, it is a very enjoyable and scenic ride. Ramona and Basilio are the two very hospitable hosts of this well-organized operation, and you’ll find them along the road from El Limón to Samaná, marked with a big sign in front of the thatch-roofed pink house. While Ramona is the head chef for your savory meal, Basilio will give you an education on cacao and coffee production.
The horse ride portion of your trek takes you through the small village of El Café, over the Río Limón in two different spots, and up mountainous passes where you’ll see clear over to Cayo Limón on the northern shore of the Bahía de Samaná. You take a break at a small hilltop rest stop. It is a wonderful place to take photos of the waterfall from a distance, and you can also purchase refreshments before you continue on to the falls on foot.
The hike down can be rather steep in spots (don’t forget—you have to climb back up!) and it’s not easy after a rain has come through. Your guide will wait at the top of the hill to return you to the parada on horseback again. The guides walking your party up and down the mountain depend heavily on your tips.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition