Rainforest Chocolate Trip

Dominican Republic, June 23 - 30, 2019

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Join Moka Origins this June for an adventure to the Dominican Republic as we dive into the heart and soul of its thriving cacao culture. This trip represents our commitment to complete transparency as we expose the entire bean-to-bar chocolate making process, starting right from the farm. This trip offers a unique blend of hands-on experience, coupled with cacao producing, chocolate tasting, cultural engagement, and fun in the sun. We’ll get a first hand look at the cacao supply chain, the environmental impact of sustainable farming partnerships, and an immersive experience into the natural grandeur of the rainforests that our cacao farming partner, Reserva Zorzal, calls home. All this will conclude with some rest and relaxation on the pristine beaches that make the caribbean islands famous.

Dominican Republic

This trip is perfect for families, chocolate fanatics, and those who are interested in a cultural and environmental immersive experience. The Dominican Republic is known for its natural beauty, while some of the best cacao producers in the world call this terrain their home. During this trip, we will personally introduce you to the farmers who supply our cacao beans while touching on the science of cacao farming, fermentation, and environmental sustainability. We will also learn how Reserva Zorzal simultaneously grows cacao, supports the environment, and undergoes their wildlife conservation efforts through their 1,019 acre rainforest reserve. And yes, we will also be tasting as much high-quality chocolate as you can handle.

On This Trip:

  • We'll explore the Dominican Republic by hiking the forests and swimming the coasts
  • Learn how cacao is grown and processed
  • Understand the cacao supply chain and who supplies our cacao
  • Taste (a lot) of chocolate from the Dominican Republic
  • Make fresh chocolate right on the farm
  • Meet our suppliers at Zorzal Cacao, a 1,019 acre protected forest and sustainable cacao farm
  • Get our hands dirty by participating on the farm
  • See how sustainable farming can lend itself to a thriving ecosystem and healthy economy

Trip Highlights

Discover

Experience the breathtaking sights and remarkable culture of the Dominican Republic. During the trip we’ll spend time at several locations ranging from coastal towns to the forested countryside.

Participate

Dig in and get your hands dirty. Literally. We’ll spend three days with our cacao partner, Zorzal Cacao and help them plant, harvest and join in wherever we can. There’s no better way to understand where your chocolate really comes from.

Explore and Protect

We’ll hike through the protected rainforest of Reserva Zorzal. This 1,019 forest focuses specifically on habitat restoration and climate change mitigation, a community-based bird monitoring program for the Bicknell’s Thrush.

Relax

The Dominican Republic is known for it’s Caribbean beaches. Up north, in the province of Puerto Plata, we'll enjoy the laid-back beach town of Cabarete. The calm waters, combined with breezy conditions make it ideal to try windsurfing or just relax and read a book.

Photos

Tentative Itinerary (June 23 - 30)

  • Day 1, Sunday June 23: Arrival
    • Fly into the city of Santiago, (Santiago de los Caballeros. Cibao Int Airport STI) settle into your room in San Francisco de Macoris, meet the rest of the group, and get an overview of the agenda for the week.
    • Evening Accommodations: San Francisco de Macoris.
  • Day 2, Monday June 24: Visit Centralized Fermentaries
    • We will visit up to two cacao fermenting and drying centers. First we’ll go to the Zorzal fermentorium in Los Arroyos, Dominican Republic and visit a local cacao farm that produces for our Zorzal Comunitario line. Then, we’ll head to OKO Caribe, a medium scale fermenting and drying facility and one of the main suppliers of Dominican specialty cacao to craft chocolate makers.
    • Evening Accommodations: San Francisco de Macoris.
  • Day 3, Tuesday June 25: Reserva Zorzal
    • We’ll head to Reserva Zorzal, a 1,019 acre protected rainforest, a bird sanctuary and a specialty cacao producer that supplies Moka with cacao beans. We’ll tour the farm and meet local producers. We’ll get hands on with some projects on the reserve.
    • Evening Accommodations: Reserva Zorzal
  • Day 4, Wednesday June 26: Reserva Zorzal
    • We’ll spend the first part of our day going for a long rainforest hike on the cacao trail through the reserve and head back to camp for lunch. After lunch we’ll participate in some more projects on the reserve.
    • Evening Accommodations: Camping at Reserva Zorzal
  • Day 5, Thursday June 27: Tour A Cacao Cooperative
    • After two nights at Reserva Zorzal in the mountains, we’ll say goodbye to our friends and head to one of the largest cacao cooperatives in the Dominican Republic called Conocado Cacao. There we’ll tour the facility and learn about fair trade and other environmental certifications.
    • We’ll end the day at the beach town of Cabarete and settle into our cozy beds.
    • Evening Accommodations: Cabarete
  • Day 6, Friday June 28: Enjoy The Beach Town Of Cabarete
    • Free day in Cabarete. The calm waters, combined with breezy conditions make it ideal to try windsurfing or just relax and read a book.
    • Evening Accommodations: Cabarete
  • Day 7, Sat jun 29: Enjoy Cabarete and San Francisco de Macoris
    • Free morning in Cabarete. Plenty of time to explore, swim, cliff jump off waterfalls, or just relax in the sun. We’ll drive back to San Francisco de Macoris for dinner and rest.
    • Evening Accommodations: San Francisco de Macoris
  • Day 8, Sun June 30
    • We’ll depart from the Dominican Republic having made new friends, we’ll have gained knowledge of cacao production and have tremendous appreciation for the chocolate that we eat. Lastly, you’ll understand the true motivation behind Moka’s mission and why we do what we do.
    NOTE: This is the tentative agenda, it can change due to time, weather, group energy capacity, or other constraints. All of the activities are optional and there are plenty of opportunities to explore the Dominican Republic.

Click Here to Download a Printable Itinerary



Registration

  • Registration ends March 15
  • Price: $1,800 per person *

Registration Instructions: Complete our Tour Participant Agreement form (TPA) by clicking the blue "Register Here" button below. Once approved, we will send you a payment link to make your payment (in full) as well as additional information. Please email Jeff at Jeff@mokaorigins.com with any questions.

Register Here

*The above rates include ground transportation in the Dominican Republic, accommodations, all meals starting with dinner on arrival night and ending with breakfast on departure day, all cacao and chocolate activities, taxes, and service charges (gratuity is included).

Pricing excludes:

  1. All travel to/from the Dominican Republic. Guests are responsible for getting themselves to Santiago (Aeropuerto Internacional del Cibao) in the Dominican Republic where they will be greeted and transferred to our lodging.
  2. Alcoholic Beverages.
  3. Additional Excursions. The north coast of the Dominican Republic offers excursions, such as kite surfing, surfing, caving, kayaking, zip lines, deep sea fishing, among others, for an additional cost. There is a free day and you may choose to do excursions in lieu of the planned group activities.
  4. Other exclusions may apply and are covered in the Tour Participant Agreement.

About Jeff Abella

This trip will be lead by Moka Origins Co-Founder Jeff Abella, who comes with more than 10 years of international humanitarian experience, both directing projects, as well as leading tour groups abroad. Specialty coffee, craft chocolate, family and empowered communities are key motivations for Jeff. Jeff has been working on international development since 2007. His passion for social entrepreneurship has led him to participate in the establishment of humanitarian projects in West Africa, and Central Mexico and to founding Moka Origins in Pennsylvania. Jeff currently serves as the Director of Global Humanitarian Projects for the Himalayan Institute, and the Managing Director of Himalayan Institute Cameroon. Jeff serves as Chairman of the Sacred Link Foundation, and founded JobLink Cameroon. As CEO of Moka Origins, Jeff manages marketing and brand strategy, while also overseeing relationship and impact at origin.

About Reserva Zorzal

Tucked in the mountain of the Duarte Province in the Dominican Republic, Reserva Zorzal is the first ever cacao producing private reserve in the country. Co-founder Dr. Charles Kerchner and his team at Zorzal work towards greater community development through innovation in agronomy, fermentation, drying and ecological sustainability. Particular to Zorzal Cacao is their mission to continuing conservation of the bird Bicknell Thrush whose native home lies within Reserva Zorzal’s 1,019-acre reserve. About 70% of the reserve is warranted as a “forever wild” sanctuary while the remaining 30% produces cacao, macadamias, and bananas. In partnering with Zorzal Cacao, we seek to participate in the burgeoning cycle of giving back to our earth and its many species.