Statue of behique, Los Hermanos Guillén

Come along with our team of experts to explore the land that the Taínos called Quisqueya (“Land for Which There Is None Greater”).  Since 1492, it has been called Hispaniola, an island shared by the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti.  The Native Taínos of the Greater Antilles, whose political-cultural center was the island of Quisqueya, were the very first Amerindian people to meet, to trade with, to fight with, and to intermarry with Europeans.  Although there are no reservations of Taínos, there are huge concentrations of Taíno descendants in the Dominican countryside.  Their presence is clearly visible in the smiling faces of millions of Dominican criollos--most Dominicans are a biological mixture, with ancestors of Amerindian, African, and European descent—and in their everyday language, which, although Spanish-based, includes hundreds of Taíno words such as un chin, barbacoa, tiburón, iguana, bohío, caracol, tabaco, maiz, manatí, maraca, yuca, casabe, canoa, huracán, hamaca, batata, auyama, guanábana…. and place and river names such as Higuey, Maguana, Sabana, Yuma, Ozama…. The Taíno inheritance is also clearly visible in myriad aspects of Dominican culture, especially campesino culture, the traditional culture of the countryside.  This includes what Dominicans eat, how they grow and prepare what they eat, home building and boat construction, fishing practices, home-based medicinal and curing practices, home-based religious practices, methods of child raising, their concept of who is “family,” their enjoyment and use of song and dance, not to mention their general friendliness and good spirits.  Solid evidence of the Taínos’ artistic abilities abounds in today’s Dominican arti-crafts.  Dominicans who appreciate their Taíno heritage, like the internationally renowned Hermanos Guillén of Yamasá, have dedicated their lives to creating fine replicas of Taíno art and artifacts, and “Neo-Taíno” art, as have hundreds of Dominican wood, bone, and shell sculptors, jewelry makers, carvers of higüeros (“gourds”), basket makers, weavers, and musical instrument makers.  There are fabulous museum exhibits of Classic Taíno artifacts.  Especially noteworthy are those at the Museum of Dominican Man, Archaeological Museum of Altos de Chavón, and the private museum of Manuel García-Arévalo.  Furthermore, the island abounds with caves and other sacred sites where the ancient Taínos sculpted guardian “zemies” and drew incredible pictographs that still look as if they were painted just yesterday.  Our Taíno Tours offer glimpses of it all and the chance to get to know Taíno descendants!


Our Taíno Tour Team consists of:  Dr. Lynne Guitar, a Fulbright Fellow, who earned a Ph.D. in History and Anthropology from Vanderbilt University and whose fields of study are the Tainos, inter-relationships among Amerindians, Africans, and Europeans on Hispaniola in the 16th Century, and Dominican Popular Culture; Alyssa Johnson, who earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Environmental Tourism from Western Washington University and has worked for more than six years in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Northwest in the areas of Sustainable Tourism, Wildlife Conservation, Project Management, Documentary Video Production, and Website Development; and Severino Polanco, a native Dominican who speaks fluent Spanish, English, French, and Italian, has a Licenciatura (B.A. equivalent) in Languages and another in Tourism and Hotel Administration, as well as five years of special training and experience through Politur, the branch of the Dominican military police that specializes in keeping the country safe for tourism.  In addition, we work with a variety of local experts, including professional artists, architects, ornithologists, botanists, geographers, archaeologists, etc., as needed, and, most importantly, a group of dynamic young university students and professionals from the Centro Cultural y Turístico Guanín..



All tours start out in Santo Domingo and its environs and include visits to:

--Zona Colonial (designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO)

--Museum of Dominican Man and private museum of Manuel García-Arévalo

--Shops and galleries specializing in Neo-Taíno art and artisanry

--Hermanos Guillén ceramics workshop in Yamasá & visit to plateau/river at Peravilla which appears to have been a Taíno cimarrón community (a cimarrón community is one to which Taínos fled after the arrival of the Spaniards; optional visit available to model cocoa plantation and co-op where it is processed)

--La Caleta, a preserved Taíno cemetery located on an isolated beach

--Rio Soco/Cueva de las Maravillas, with its hundreds of fine examples of pictographs (cave drawings) dedicated to childbirth and the training of caciques’ sons

--San Cristóbal/Cueva Pomiers-Bourbon, with its fine examples of pictographs dedicated to courtship, as well as several petroglyphs (carvings “pecked” out of rock with stone chisels)

Santo Cerro and La Vega Vieja in the mountains of the Cibao

--Santo Cerro, today a national shrine, is the site of the very first major battle (as well as a major cultural misunderstanding) between Amerindians and Europeans

--La Vega Vieja, today a national park, was the central yucayeque (“town”) of Cacique Guarionex, one of the five supreme caciques on the island in 1492; after the Battle of Santo Cerro in March of 1494, Spaniards built a city, Concepción de la Vega, upon the site so that they could control the gold mining in the region

Cacique/Monción, Rio Chacuey, Dajabón

--Casabe factory in Cacique that uses very similar processes to those developed by the Taínos

--Río Chacuey has the most famous petroglyphs on the island (rock carvings), and you only have to wade up a knee-deep crystal-clear river for ten minutes to get to them; later we can all swim in natural pools (charcos) like the Taínos did; all of this is in an incredible mountain environment abounding with native trees and plants

--Optional visit to Haitian craft market at nearby Dajabón (only open twice weekly)


TEN-DAY TAINO TOUR includes all of the above plus two extra sites:

1) Altos de Chavón and Isla Saona

--Archaeological Museum of Altos de Chavón has an incredible Taíno exhibit

--Isla Saona, a national park with fabulous beach and a small cave where, supposedly, the Cacique Higueymoto and his family hid out from the Spaniards until he was captured in 1504.  Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Isla Saona was a popular stopover for European ships to stock up on cassabe bread, which they bought from Taínos and used aboard ship because it does not go stale and does not get wormy like the “hardtack” sailors once had to eat.

 2) Group chooses either Samaná or Lago Enriquillo to complete the ten-day tour.

Visit the beautiful coconut-palm covered Samaná Peninsula, including trips to:

--Los Haitises National Park by boat, visiting the caves with rare white Taíno pictographs and several impressive petroglyphs; whale watching in January through March, when the impressive mammals are in the bay to breed

--Site at Bay of Samaná where Christopher Columbus recorded that a group of fierce and aggressive Taínos attacked him and his men

--Horseback ride to Salto de Limón, the largest waterfall on the island


Visit Lago Enriquillo, a vast salt lake and nature preserve in an incredible mountain and desert setting:

--Awe-inspiring Statue of Cacique Enriquillo along the main highway

--Las Caritas, carved guardian “faces” high up on a cliff wall that the Taínos sculpted to protect this cimarrón (“runaway”) area

--Nature tour with local specialists of the crocodile, iguana, and flamingo breeding/feeding grounds

--Swim in refreshing artesian-stream-fed ponds—in the desert!



Cotui and the El Hatillo Dam and Reservoir

--Visit the incredibly beautiful El Hatillo Dam and Reservoir and the cave called Guácara Taína (by boat).  Optional hike to Guácara Hoyo de Sanabe.  Both caves have fabulous pictographs; the latter also has two petroglyphs, but the visit to Guácara Hoya de Sanabe requires a moderately strenuous hike of approximately one hour each way through incredibly beautiful hill country


Customized trips can be arranged to include a visit to the Parque Nacional del Este and its unbelievable Cueva José María, which has the most pictographs of any cave yet discovered on the island and definitely the most controversial, for some anthropologists believe that one particular series of drawings within Cueva José María depicts the trade that the Taínos conducted with the Spaniards in casabe in a manner that suggests they were about to invent writing.  It’s a rough hike of one hour each way over rugged terrain to the cave, and ropes are needed in two places inside—a trip only for the hardy.

ONE-WEEK TAINO TOUR (7 days and 7 nights)—US$1,295 per person

TEN-DAY TAINO TOUR (10 days and 10 nights)—US$1,695 per person

TWO-WEEK TAINO TOUR (14 days and 14 nights)—US$2,295 per person

Cost is all-inclusive, based on groups of 10 or more.  Includes:  Deluxe hotel room (double occupancy; single supplement US$35 per night extra), three meals per day and all beverages (excluding alcoholic beverages, except at a few resort hotels), transportation, historical/cultural interpretations, professional guides. 

vAgents--Contact us for your discountsv


Tours can be custom designed for groups of 10+ persons and variable time periods.  Choose the length of time your group has available and the sites that most interest you.  We will tell you if they can be seen in the time period selected.  If so, we will prepare a confirmed itinerary; if not, we will let you know what can be done within the selected time period and prepare an itinerary.