Ecotourism and Activism
Iguana Mama Links Clients and Local People
Ecotourism is really about sustaining local culture," says Patricia Thorndike de Suriel, owner of Iguana Mama Mountain Bike, Hiking, and Cultural Vacations, in Cabarete, the Dominican Republic. "We are a link between our clients and the local people," says de
Suriel. We try to be involved in their lives and to helpand we get results."
Patricia came to Cabarete in 1993 on her way to a vacation in Bolivia. She had already hiked and biked her way across 44 countries on six continents and saw the potential for a mountain bike tour operation in the Dominican Republic. In six years she has built Iguana Mama into
one of the most responsible and respected tour operators not only in the Caribbean but in the worldwide biking community.
On her tours people learn about the natural history of the island and also meet Dominican people in their homes. Iguana Mama's guides are all local. They are well paid, trained in CPR, first aid, and bike mechanics, and participate in a 4-day "outback" clinic dealing
At least 20 percent of tour fees go to the education of local children, and the Iguana Mama bikeshop is a collection center for clothing and other donated goods. Iguana Mama connects clients interested in scuba diving, horseback riding, rafting, canyoning, whale watching,
and jungle river tours in touch with ecoresponsible operators.