Monday, May 13, 2013

El Choco Loco - Dominican Republic: Iguana Mama Review

The thought of biking in another country has always intrigued me, the idea of getting my bike there and back has always stopped me.  Luckily, Iguana Mama offers guided tours with good quality bikes.  The front suspension Fujis were well maintained and they had and XL size for me.  We did the El Choco Loco Tour.

The first part of the 44km was on the road.  After the look of terror wore off my wife's face she looked like this when we stopped for the (included) drinks for our ride.  Notice her teeth are still a little clenched.  The roads in the Dominican Republic are a little scary to say the least but riding a bike on them was less frightening than driving in a car.

When we left this bodega we turned into the road that lead to the park.  The first part of the ride was the most difficult but far from technical.  At one point we had to ride past a big black bull in the middle of the trail.  Not knowing the temperament of this particular bull, I didn't stop to take any pictures which I now regret.

The ride continued on the jeep trail for a few miles, turned onto a paved road for a little bit and then back on a red dirt road which continued to the top of the El Choco national park. 

The height of land was about in the middle of the trip and then we started descending through some sparsely populated and poor areas.  Our guide Alejandro was quite willing to give us information on anything we were interested in and answered all our questions.  

 A little further on we stopped to take some pictures of a baby donkey, very cute.  Until we were "chased" away by a Dominican woman for reasons I'm not entirely sure of.  Alejandro said she was asking for money which isn't uncommon for these poor areas.

The ride continued through rolling hills and beautiful scenery  for about 10km.  At some point along here we stopped to buy some more drinks for the rest of the ride.  Although the temperature was around 85F and fairly humid it didn't seem too hot.  Probably because we were coming from a climate where 35F was the normal high and anything else seemed great.

The road surface changed form dirt to a packed stone (actually coral) which went on until we got to the paved road which we rode for approximately the last 10km.  

Overall:  the trip was a great way to get our into the heart of the Dominican Republic at a level that could never be achieved by car.  The difficulty was technically easy but required some endurance to get through the ride.  I ride 25 miles daily and was tired but not exhausted by the end.  We completed the trip in about 4 hours.  Out of the 44km I'd say about 1/3 of it was on paved roads getting too and from the park.  Our guide was excellent in all respects and we were glad to give him a tip at the end.  If you are looking for a real mountain bike experience I'd recommend looking into one of their more technical rides but for a ride that I could share with my wife, this one fit the bill perfectly. 

We also took the 27 waterfalls tour through the Iguana Mama tour company and had a great time on that too.  Everybody we spoke to from their company was helpful and accommodating.  I would use them again.

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