Charco de los militares is an iconic eco tour of Puerto Plata, located close to Tubagua. It is hidden away in the heart of the green farmland of Puerto Plata and completely off the beaten path; It is a river born from the rocks, and flows with various natural pools that cascade gracefully along the landscape.
To reach its location we booked a tour at the Tubagua Eco Lodge, where we were told we could walk the trail from Tubagua (45 mins ) or drive (20 mins ) so we preferred to drive. We drove about 15 minutes through a dirt road to Arroyo de Leche, then 5 more minutes through farmland, to finally reach the entrance to a private farm where we were allowed to walk through another 7 minutes or so by cows, guineafowl, and goats.
Several stairs going up and down are found along the trail, where soon we started to see the river and its beautiful scenery. Those who did the tour walking the 45 minutes from the Eco lodge had a more adventurous experience, walking through sugar cane fields, mountain trails, and forest land.
Once we reached the destination, we find the main charco (pool) and a wooden staircase that leads to several others; The location is lush with vegetation, and the sounds of birds and flowing water feel fantastic.
According to local history, the name of Charco de los militares had its origins back in the 1940`s when a group of military men deserted from the army (during Dictator Rafael Trujillo`s regime) and they abandoned their fatigues in this place.
The Charcos Depths:
Several pools are available for swimming, the deepest one has about 17 feet deep, and the rest between 4-5 feet; always consider how much rain has been falling the previous days of your visit. The top 3 charcos are in close proximity, and there is one right where the river is born, straight from the rock.
Some online reviews refer to hordes of locals visiting and leaving trash, which did happen in the past. Nowadays there is more control and only guided tours are allowed into the premises, to better care for the environment and the safety of travelers. The video posted here is the most recent, showing the new wooden deck and stairs with rails.
El Charco de los Militares is a great eco tour experience, just be sure to wear comfortable shoes (non slip does better), and walk carefully when walking the trail, even on the railings as some are rough with no stepping board. This is not a place for small kids, better leave them at home. Bring a bottle of water, some snacks (do not litter) and a swimsuit.
The guide from Tubagua (Juanin) walks the trail, or needs to be driven if the tour is done by car. The road requires an SUV, a 4×4 can do much better. Also consider the other ecotours La Rejolla and Damajagua 27 Falls, for the most unique ecotourism experiences in the Dominican Republic.nGuided hikes to these waterfalls depart from Tubagua Eco Lodge.