Jaragua National Park protects a rare, dry deciduous forest at the extreme southwest corner of the nation. Endangered hutia and solenodon cling to life amid the cacti and scrub, and jade-colored Laguna Oviedo is a precious habitat for flamingos and other wading birds that can easily be seen from a viewing platform at the visitor center and on boat trips guided by rangers. Contact the Naturalist Guide Association of Pedernales (phone 809-771-9120).
Offshore, Isla Beata (off-limits to visitors except by permit) is home to the world's smallest lizard. Camping is permitted at Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of Eagles), lined by a gorgeous white-sand beach where three species of marine turtles—including the Caribbean's largest concentration of hawksbill turtles—lay their eggs. The bay is normally visited by a boat trip from the tiny fishing community of Las Cuevas. It can also be reached by an arduous dirt road for anyone up to the challenge; a high-ground-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle is required. Many people take a tent and camping gear and settle in for a lonesome escape from the crowds that line other beaches.
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