El Hoyo de Pelempito is actually the greatest geologic depression in the whole country, over 1,000 meters in depth, which was brought about by the collapse of a huge coral shelf millions of years ago. Bird watchers will find a variety of a little over 100 species, five of which are in danger of extinction. Also on the endangered list living here are the solenodon and the hutia, both endemic to the island.
Even if hunting for a sighting of rare mammals is not top on your list of must-dos, the scenery alone will be satisfying enough. Take a walk through the pine forest. At 1,165 meters, there is a panoramic view on the edge of “the hole” from a lookout.
Visitors can spend the night in El Hoyo by requesting special permission from the Sub-Ministry of Protected Areas at the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (tel. 809/472-7170, www.medioambiente.gov.do ).
El Hoyo de Pelempito is on the southern edge of the Sierra de Bahoruco . You need to turn off 12 kilometers east of Pedernales (opposite the road to Bahía de las Águilas ). Halfway up the mountain, you will find the ranger station (no phone, US$1.50). Wear warm layers (since temperatures can dip down to 0 degrees Celsius), comfortable walking shoes, sunblock, and bug repellent. Take plenty of drinking water and remember to pack out what you take in.
You’ll want to drive a four-wheel-drive. Even though the road to get to the turnoff is well paved, the 30-kilometer stretch up the mountain is bumpier. Don’t forget your camera!