On my journeys around the world with Nikon’s BATV I have stayed at some very hospitable birding lodges. The vast majority of guests that visit these “birder-friendly” lodges are birders and the primary target market of these places is the birding segment. The one exception is Punta Cana Resort and Club in the Dominican Republic. This is not a birding lodge. Far from it. In fact, many birders might be put off by the sheer size and scale of this operation. Golf courses, swimming pools, restaurants and a diverse collection of accommodation options. Punta Cana even manages the airport!
But Punta Cana Resort and Club is the perfect base for those birders who would like to explore the island’s birdlife without enduring the rigors of budget accommodations. And a handful of the island’s 31 endemics can be found within the resort. Add to this the fact that you can be birding within 2 hours of leaving the USA and you have a pretty unbeatable birding vacation!
If you think that this town-sized resort is simply a large-scale commercial operation think again. In fact Punta Cana is a shining example of how large hotels can conduct their operations in a sustainable manner whilst contributing significantly to the preservation of birds, wildlife and habitats.
The Punta Cana Ecological Foundation has been specifically set up to ensure that the business is run on ecological and sustainable principles. Additionally the foundation provides a facility for important biological field work. Universities like Harvard, Columbia and Cornell regularly use the research facility. Guests are even able to participate with Cornell on their annual census of the islands’s birdlife. The Punta Cana Ecological Foundation ensures that pioneering waste management and water-conservation technology is practiced on a daily basis by resort operations. But perhaps most importantly for us as birders, Punta Cana is the leading partner in the Ridgway’s Hawk Reintroduction Project. This project has ensured that this critically endangered bird is being brought back from the brink of extinction.
On the grounds, Punta Cana has preserved a 1,500 acre Ecological Park that is an excellent place to view the local endemic bird species and enjoy nature.
Next time you plan a birding trip be sure to check out the conservation and sustainability policies of the places you are staying at. We can all play our part by choosing operations that give back.