Monkey Jungle and Domican Flavors
Our first port in our seven day cruise was Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. This was the port we were looking forward to the most on this go around. We were originally planning to take a different cruise that stopped in the DR, but due to an unexpected pregnancy in the family, that trip was cancelled. So, when we found this cruise that stopped in the DR, we were very excited.
We were met in this port by a Norwegian Cruise ship. This port was bright and sunny when we arrived. We had a short walk down the pier then we were into the shopping center of the port. It was a very nice port, with a lot of vegetation and gardens. This port was very similar to the port in Grand Turk. It had a pool, many shops and restaurants to eat at. There were little villas up above the port as well as beach side. You would have plenty of fun just getting off the ship and hanging out in the port if you weren’t looking to spend more money on an excursion.
Our excursion for Amber Cove was “Monkey Jungle and Domincan Flavors for Families”. This is not the same thing as Monkey Land, as that is down by Punta Cana, they are different places. We met in the port and gathered around our paddle-holding guide. There aren’t many benches and not a whole lot of shade while waiting for the excursion. It was a little warm while waiting, but the port was nice and there was plenty to look at. Once our whole group had gathered, we headed to our buses where we were split into two groups and boarded separate open air buses, then we began our journey.
We were unlucky enough to have the most obnoxious lady, ever to walk to earth, on our tour bus. She was from New Jersey, so she had a thick accent, and you would think she had never left her backyard! So, for the approximate one hour drive to our destination, I sat there trying not to lose it on this lady. I mean, come on, when passing a donkey, she got very excited proclaiming to her husband that it was her! She was calling herself a jackass. She was very condescending about the locals and it honestly just ruined the whole drive to our location.
Aside from the very obnoxious lady, we did see some very beautiful scenery on our way. The DR reminds me very much of Jamaica, it was so pretty. I love getting to drive through the towns when we visit new places. I really enjoy getting to see the day to day life of the locals and really see the country as it is. We drove through towns and along the beach with the air blowing all around us. It was thick with green vegetation and the terrain was mountainous and added such beautiful depth to the view as we drove. The Domican Republic was so lovely and I can see why it is a popular travel place.
After about an hour, we made it to our destination. We were taken up to the Monkey Jungle location and we all got out. We were given a little bit of time to take in the amazing view, to look at the various animals they had outside the monkey area, and get a cold drink. There is also a zip line at this location, but it was not part of our excursion. It was so pretty and peaceful, and so beautiful. After about twenty minutes of hanging out, it was time to go into the enclosure. We were asked to leave our bags at the snack bar before we entered. They went over some safety guidelines, then it was time! We were gonna get to go see the monkeys! This monkey enclosure houses Squirrel monkeys. They are the smallest and cutest little things! We all entered the enclosure as a group, and we started descending the staircase that led further into the enclosure. They were stone steps on a wooden railing lined path. Once we all got in a little ways, our guide started handing out plates of food. We were each given a small plate of grapes and other veggies for the monkey to eat. Once the food came out, we were swarmed by adorable fluffy little monkeys. All the female monkeys had babies clinging to their backs. The monkeys climbed all over us picking food from our plates. Our arms, heads, shoulders, they were all fair game. It was so cool and so exciting getting such an up close and personal experience with the monkeys. While they were obviously allowed to climb all over you, we were asked to please not pet the monkeys. This was to prevent any further domestication of the monkeys. Once they food was gone, the monkeys kind of hung back and observed us from a distance, in case we brought out more food.
Once we were finished feeding the monkeys, we descended further into the enclosure. They were in the process of building a bigger enclose as they were quickly outgrowing the one we were presently in. At the bottom of the enclosure was a smaller enclosure that housed three rescued Capuchin monkeys. These monkeys are commonly kept as pets as well as used for tourist pictures. They can become very aggressive, however, which usually leads to them being given up. It was fun to see them from afar. Because these monkeys were so domesticated, Monkey Jungle has created an enriching environment for them to try to learn how to be a proper monkey. They encourage them to forage for food and to use their hands and feet to do things. They will never be able to survive in the wild, but they are doing their best to acclimate them with their nature. The tour was over, and it was time to head back up.
We had a few more minutes to hang out and look around, then it was time to head back to our buses. On our trip back, I made sure I got a back seat, so that I was FAR away from our obnoxious lady. We were lucky enough to meet some lovely people at the back of the bus, and it made for a much more relaxing trip.
On our way back, we stopped at a local’s house were they welcomed us into their home to get a better idea of how they lived in the DR. Their house was simple, but so lovely. This family was very proud of what they had. They had plumbing but there didn’t seem to be any electricity, despite them having a TV. They brewed us some home-made coffee and shared some Mamajuana with us. They were so welcoming and kind and it was so interesting to get an inside look at their lives.
We headed back on our way, making the gorgeous trek back to the port. We had good conversation and enjoyed the scenery once again. After another hour drive, we made it back to the port. We had a little bit of time to wonder around before it was time to leave. We had lunch at one of the port restaurants, which is something we enjoy doing while off the ship. The weather started turning rainy, so we headed back to the ship. A storm rolled in and we said goodbye to the DR as the wind and the rain picked up.