Although the idea of the Southwest  being undiscovered by mass tourism is a tantalizing idea, it can also make it a bit challenging when trying to plan excursions. Never fear; contact EcoTour Barahona (Paraíso, Carretera Enriquillo 7, second floor, tel. 809/243-1190, www.ecotour-repdom.com ). This experienced company offers many options for discovering the splendor of the Southwest. Ecotour choices (one-day, US$65–140, including lunch) are popular and range from choices like a day at Bahía de Las Águilas , Lago Enriquillo , Laguna Oviedo , Cachote, Isla Beata  (expensive but worth it!), and the Larimar Mines . Other options include eco-holidays (4–7 days), eco-adventures (multiday, spendy activities by land or sea or both), and eco-treks (cacao, coffee, or horseback). The guides speak three languages.
Thank goodness for Tody Tours (Santo Domingo, tel. 809/686-0882, www.todytours.com ), because if it wasn’t for Kate Wallace—owner, bird specialist, and local guide—people would continue to say that the Dominican Republic  is no place for a bird watcher! Birders everywhere are flocking to her (okay, that was a bad joke) to help them find and appreciate the endemic species of the island of Hispaniola. The company is run out of the capital, but tours are given in the Southwest  with a week’s notice. The tours are US$200 per day for four people plus expenses. Tody Tours makes all arrangements for accommodations, food, and transportation.