PROGRAMS
©2012 Fundacion Mahatma Gandhi.   Las Terrenas, Samaná Province, Dominican Republic.
Legalmente incorporada bajo las leyes de la República Dominicana (2012).  RNC 430-125-997.
correo@fundacionmahatmagandhi.com, 829.330.0986.
"Be the change
you wish to see
in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteer Central, Transport
Transportation Into Las Terrenas

Your needs may vary depending on your point of origin and your routing, but feel free to write us at
correo@fundacionmahatmagandhi.com if you have any questions or if you need assistance.  You may also
call 829.330.0986.

Looking for maps?  Go here.

International Flights
[Information about airlines servicing the D.R. appears here]
The country has a number of international airports (go here for more):  Santo Domingo (SDQ is 2.5 hrs away
on the new highway linking the capital to Samaná.  
Santiago (STI) is 3.5 hrs. away; Puerto Plata (POP) is 3.5
hrs. away, and the newly inaugurated
Samaná El Catey international airport (AZS) is 45 minutes away and
recently Jet Blue flies there from NY on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  

Lost luggage
If you lost your luggage please tell the airline the address in Las Terrenas:
Calle Salomé Ureña #7-B, Las
Terrenas, Provincia Samaná.  Doblar en la esquina del Banco León, tercera casa después de la antena de
Tricom, del lado izquierdo, malla ciclónica, antes de la pared de piedra.  There's a sign on the fence that
says "Casa Paz."  Contact telephone, 829.330-0986 (Jose) or 809.496.0245 (Annette).
Ask them to make sure to call before leaving for Las Terrenas in case that alternate plans are needed.

Taxi direct into Las Terrenas
This is your most expensive option.  There's SICHOLA, the taxi union at the airport and they have a monopoly
of service.  Depending on the time of day it may cost you upwards of US$225 for the one-way trip to Las
Terrenas.  Our local tourist transport service in Las Terrenas allows us to book a taxi pick-up for you at the
airport for slightly less than that, as a service to our volunteers.  These are air-conditioned vans and they are
dependable, safe and reliable.  You pay them directly (FMG does not collect fees from what you pay).  If you
want to go this route then you have to send us a deposit of US$100 which is half the cost in order to secure a
driver for you.  You must alert your airline of the consequences of a delay or cancellation as the driver may
have already gone to the airport to pick you up.  We are glad to help you make taxi arrangements if that's
what you choose, but please be aware that we cannot assume financial responsibilities in the event of any
changes or cancellations.  At any rate, it helps to know the other options below so that you can use "plan B"
in case of a flight delay or an emergency.  You can try to reach us by phone at either 829-330-0986 (Jose),
809-496-0245 (Annette) or at home at 809-240-6596.

Buses from Santo Domingo
You have two options, Caribe Tours going to Sánchez, about half an hour away from Las Terrenas; or direct
bus service to Las Terrenas.  

Caribe Tours
Go to
http://www.caribetours.com.do/ for general information and itinerary.  They offer 50-passenger,
air-conditioned buses with toilet facilities. To catch Caribe Tours you have to take a taxi from the airport to
their terminal (about US$35), then pay approx. $10 for the bus service to Sanchez.  Once in Sánchez you may
catch a pick up truck or a mototaxi (motorcycle) but don't pay more than US$3, to the bus stop for Las
Terrenas a short mile away.  Once you arrive to the bus stop for Las Terrenas (vans or pick up trucks
available) you pay 70 pesos (a little less than US$2) for the 25-minute ride into Las Terrenas.  If you're going
to Casa Paz you ask the driver to drop you off in front of Banco León (which is no longer there, but everybody
calls that intersection that way) and then walk a block away towards the big telephone antenna which is
close to Casa Paz.

Please notice that the last Caribe Tours bus towards Sanchez departs at 4 pm, so your flight needs to arrive
not later than 1:30 pm for you to be able to make it safely.  It may take anywhere from 30 min. to an hour to go
through customs, then half an hour into the city (higher if during rush hour) and then you need to get your
ticket and be there 10 mins. before departure time.  If your arrival time does not allow enough room then you
might stay in the capital your first night then catch the bus the following day.  

Direct Bus Service Santo Domingo-Las Terrenas
A very convenient service is offered on 25-passenger buses that travel directly from Santo Domingo to Las
Terrenas and viceversa.  The fare is 300 pesos or US$8.  The last bus departs Santo Domingo at 3 pm, but
there's a stop 5 minutes away from the airport.  So you may catch a taxi at the airport and ask to be taken to
"el cruce para Samaná" where the bus stops are (Caribe Tour has a stop there as well, but they don't go
directly into Las Terrenas).  The taxi shouldn't be more than US$20.  The other option is to catch the taxi from
the airport to their terminal (Samana buses) on Calle Barahona behind Plaza Lama.  Their buses depart for
Las Terrenas at 8:30 am, 9:30 am, 11 am, 1:40 pm and 3:00 pm. Taking the bus directly into Las Terrenas
is the best way to avoid the transfer of buses in Sanchez.  
Please notice the following:
a) buses may depart early if they're already full.  Try to be at the bus stop at least 45 minutes before
departure if you don't want to miss it.  Be there at least 1 hr prior to the last departure of the day (3 pm from
Santo Domingo);
b) if you carry much luggage you may need to pay for an extra seat, but don't secure an extra one until the last
moment in case that your bus is not totally full.  You can assertively state that you will pay for the extra seat
only if the bus is full, which would be fair to all involved.
c) the ride to Las Terrenas takes about 3 hrs depending on the time of day and rush hour traffic.  There are
no toilets on the road and no suitable facilities along the way.
d) if you need to reserve a seat you may call the Bus office at 809.687.1470 and ask to speak with the driver
of the bus going to Las Terrenas if available.  Most likely he would want you to arrive early enough to
guarantee occupancy.  
e) Every half hour buses depart from the Samana bus stop on Calle Barahona in Santo Domingo to Samana
City.  Samana city is 45 minutes away from Las Terrenas.  That's also an option for you, though it takes
longer because they make many stopsp along the way.  Make sure to tell the driver that you want to get off in
Sanchez at the crossroads to Las Terrenas, and from three you would then catch the local transport into Las
Terrenas (for 70 pesos or less than US$2).  

Lodging in Santo Domingo
If your flight into Santo Domingo arrives too late for any of the buses available we then recommend that you
stay in Santo Domingo for the night.  Guest House Las Mercedes, a bed and breakfast  in the Colonial City is
a medium price, nice and accessible location, on Calle Luperón, see more at
http://guestlasmercedes.com/Home.html.  The cost is US$45-50 including breakfast.  Volunteers have also
stayed at Bettye's Guest House, a hostel at the heart of the colonial city.  You can book directly at
bettyemarshall@hotmail.com, or calling 809.688.7649.  Bettye's is located on Calle Isabel La Catolica #162,
at the corner with Luperon Street.  It's one block from Colombus' house and to the Cathedral.  Bettye's also
have an airport taxi service that's cheaper than the regular SICHALA airport taxi service.  When you book you
room book also your taxi pick up with her.  You need a 24 hrs prior notice.  A night at Bettye's costs US$22-25
and it includes breakfast.  

On Driving in the Dominican Republic
Not for the faint-hearted.  Most roads have many pot-holes, often people and animals are too close for your
comfort and when night falls is best to stay put and not do long-distance travel.  That's what I hear most
foreigners say.  I've driven at night, have had my close calls, including a very real encounter with 15 cows at
4:30 am, two of them destroyed the front of my pick-up!  But you'll find locals and tourists driving in all kinds
of possible ways and it must be fun because they keep on doing it.  You must choose your comfort level.  
And, yes, there are many accidents on moto-conchos but often enough it is the only mode of transportation
available.  Just tell the driver to go "al paso," or slow.  If you feel unsafe, touch his shoulder and tell him
again "al paso, por favor."  That might help.

Related information about this and other topics can be found
here.

Things to keep in mind  

About luggage:  At the airport the luggage cart in the customs area is FREE and you can use it to take your
bags all the way outside the terminal, though someone may approach you to help you with bags, meaning
that they will find them from you inside customs, push them through customs and deliver them to you
outside the arrival area.  If catching Caribe Tours their luggage compartment is huge, but if travelling on one
of the 25-passenger vans the room is limited to your lap, unless you decide to pay for an extra seat to place
your luggage.  Taxis do not charge extra for luggage, particularly if you're carrying the standard two pieces
and carry on.

Taxi costs:  if arriving at the main international airport in Santo Domingo the authorized taxi transport into the
city is called SICHOLA.  There will be drivers at the exit with a small sign carrying said letters.  They charge
higher when going to a hotel than going to a home (approx. US$40 to hotels while the standard home fare is
usually US$35.  The trip to the Caribe Tours bus stop (they are all familiar with the stop) may cost between
US$35-40).  Traffic is terrible in Santo Domingo, if arriving during rush hour (12-1 pm, 4:30-7 pm) the ride
into the city/bus stop may take 30-40 minutes.  Caribe Tours departs on time and you have to buy the ticket
before hand.  One way to save on the taxi is to share the taxi with someone going into the city or going to the
bus stop, which means making friends with people on the plane and finding out.  Interestingly enough the
cost of a local taxi ride to the airport using one of the companies in the city is no more than $600 or half the
rate at the airport.  Tough luck!

Flashing money:  a big no no.  There are ATM machines in the arrival area at the Las Americas airport.  As
you exit the first security door and start going down the ramp you'll see them on your extreme right.  There are
5-6 of them.  Use your ATM card to withdraw money in pesos or plan to cash dollars or travellers cheques
from inside the immigration area at one of the bank booths.  ATM machines are also available at all other
airports.

At the Caribe Tours bus stop:  there are usually places that sell sandwiches, fruit juices, soda pop and
bottled water, among many other things.  Their bus makes no stops when travelling on the new highway
(shorter route) to Sanchez, except for a brief stop near the airport.

Managing these things is part of the fun but a little bit of knowledge can't hurt.  Please feel free to ask if you
have any questions or are confused about transport.  We'd gladly assist you.
The Foundation