The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua

The 27 waterfalls of damajagua, otherwise known as the 27 charcols, is one of the absolute best tourist attractions in the entire country and maybe in the entire Caribbean. As its name suggest, there are 27 waterfalls that you can hike to, climb, slide through, and jump from. It’s a great time and a beautiful landscape. I’m going to share my experience visiting the 27 waterfalls and I will provide tips and suggestions for first-time visitors.

I should mention now that this excursion is not for everyone. You want to be in decent physical shape and be able to swim. The group can move quickly, there’s a lot of hiking, and you will have to do some sliding- jumping is optional. You don’t have to be a perfect swimmer but you want to be able to at least move yourself through the water.

27 Waterfalls of Damajagua

Taking a Tour or Coming Alone

You have a few different options- you can either do it through a tour company, or you can do it independently. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. A tour will be more convenient but it will cost a lot more- probably around $80 where as if you do it independently it might only cost you around $20, depending on how big a tip you want to give to your guide. Lunch is included with the tour, but you can buy lunch yourself for about $6. Tours are available from most major hotels and there are also independent tour companies that you can contact. Another note is that because of time constraints, some tours only do 7 waterfalls. If you come independently you can do more.

Arriving

The 27 waterfalls are located in the Puerta Plata region, and not too far from Santiago. From the center of Puerta Plata it’s about a 30 minute ride and from Santiago it’s about an hour and 15 minute ride. If you are coming alone or with friends/family, then the easiest way to get here is to take a small bus (guagua) from either of those two cities. This bus only costs a couple dollars. If you are driving then just head on the main highway and you will see signs for the waterfalls. The entrance from the road is not well marked and there is actually a dirt road about 1km long that leads to the actual entrance. I remember getting off from the bus, walking a little down the dirt road and wondering if this was the right place. But just keep walking and you will find the entrance.

If you are coming with a tour group, then you don’t really have to worry about arriving. The tour operator will take you there without any issues.

Preparation

Now that you’ve arrived, it’s time to prepare to conquer those waterfalls. You need to grab a ticket from an employee at the entrance, then go pay the small entrance fee at the front desk in order to proceed. You have the option of doing either 13 waterfalls or the entire 27. But depending on the season, you may only be able to do the first 13. This is because in the dry season the last 14 are not really suitable for exploring. The last 14 are also where the highest jumps are if you enjoy cliff jumping. The season to do all 27 starts in December. This is also peak season so it will be a lot busier.

If you have a GoPro camera, then it’s best that you take it. It’s by far the best way to take photos and videos, and trust me- you will want to take photos and videos. At the front desk you have the option of renting a camera but it’s expensive and the quality of cameras are not that good. Another option is to have your guide take pictures of you and then leave him a larger tip. This is what I did and it’s the option I recommend if you don’t have a GoPro.

You will then head over to get your equipment. This includes a helmet and life jacket. Renting shoes are optional, but it’s highly recommended. The rubber shoes available for rent are perfect for hiking and wading through the water. Next it’s time to meet your guide and be on your way.

The Beginning

Your are not going to be seeing the waterfalls right away, be prepared for a hike- a half hour hike. But don’t worry, the hike is enjoyable. You will be able to enjoy the scenery while getting your muscles warmed up for the swimming and jumping. Depending on your physical shape, you may be a little out of breath by the time you reach the first waterfall.

The Waterfalls

After the hike you will arrive at the first waterfall. Now it’s time let loose and enjoy yourself. Right away you will realize how stunning and pristine these waterfalls are. You can take your time moving through them since there is no rush. Remember to follow your guides at all times and listen to what they have to say. They all speak English, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions.

For the first 13 waterfalls, there are a couple waterfalls that you have the option to jump from. It’s fun and safe, but don’t feel like you are forced to jump- it’s optional. The first large jump is 20 feet and it can be quite intimidating. I remember being up there and hesitating as I was a little nervous to jump. But I just went for it and plunged safely into the water. The experience was good. If you can’t make the 20 foot jump then you can climb down the rope ladder- it’s as simple as that. Later on you will encounter a second jump of 10 feet. You also have the option of sliding down this waterfall.

Dominican Republic River

27 Charcols

Ending

After you have conquered the waterfalls then it’s time to hike back down. This will take about another half hour. The entire trip takes over 2 hours to do the 13 waterfalls. You will find yourself back at the entrance and here you will return your gear, give a tip to your guide, and then say goodbye. A recommended tip is around $10 a person.

If you are taking the bus back, then you can walk back out on the dirt road, cross the street, and wait for the bus to come. Once you get home you can reflect on the amazing time you had, and look at the pictures and videos.

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