Cascading in the Dominican Republic
Outfitter: Iguana Mama
Price: $70 per person
When you drive into Cabarete and have a look at what's around—cars with mountain bikes and surfboards strapped on to the roofs, tanned ex-pats carrying sails and boards down to the beach, kite boarders soaring above the waves—it's clear, this place is all about adventure. Set on the north coast of the Dominican Republic near Puerto Plata, this lively little town is also known for its innovation in adventure sports, and one of the unique activities you can try when visiting is cascading.
Cascading, a sort of wet version of canyoning, involves climbing up to the top of waterfalls, often a series of falls, and then jumping or sliding down to the bottom. Anyone who's reasonably fit and doesn't have a fear of heights can cascade—no technical equipment or skill is needed—but using safety-conscious guides who know the area is a must.
The Cabarete-based outfitter Iguana Mama, the first licensed adventure tour operator in the country, runs the best cascading tours, including trips to the Damajagua falls, a series of 27 waterfalls in the Northern Corridor Mountains. The falls get progressively more difficult the higher you climb, and Iguana Mama is the only company with the experience to regularly bring groups as high the 12th falls (most others stop at the seventh.)
On the trip, your guide will lead you on a hike up the Damajagua River, following a serpentine network of narrow canyons and rippled rock formations. Along the way, you'll haul yourself up, over, and through waterfalls ranging in height from one-and-a-half to 49 feet, with the assistance of guides (who seem to possess the strength and agility of acrobats) and the occasional rope or vine. Getting all the way to the 12th fall is a challenge, but the thrill of being able to leap and slide back down, plunging into amber-colored pools, is worth the effort.
This six-hour tour is offered year-round. The trip cost covers breakfast, ground transportation, safety equipment, guide services, and lunch. You must wear a life jacket and helmet and know how to swim to go on this trip.
Round-trip January flights to Puerto Plata from Miami start at $388, including taxes, on Delta.