There is very little of interest to tourists right in Santo Domingo, although you can use this busy city as a base for a reasonable range of activities, including rainforest hikes, bird-watching excursions, visits to a Tsachila community, and white-water rafting trips. For any organized tours or activities around Santo Domingo, contact Delgado Travel (tel. 02/2760-036), at Avenida Quito and Calle Cocaniguas, or Turismo Zaracay (tel. 02/2750-546), Avenida 29 de Mayo and Cocaniguas.

The best attraction close to Santo Domingo is the Jardín Botánico La Carolina (tel. 02/3702-868), located just a few kilometers outside the city center at the Km 2 marker on the road to Chone. These botanical gardens have a broad series of well-marked, self-guided trails, and they will even provide a bilingual guide if you reserve in advance. Exhibits include ornamental and medicinal plants, orchids, and native and introduced hardwoods. The bird-watching here is often excellent. The Jardín is open daily from 9am to 4pm, and admission is $1.50 (£1); children get in at half-price.

Even if you're not staying there, bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts can tour the trails and forests at Tinalandia. All the tour agencies in town offer day trips here for around $30 (£20) per person. Alternatively, you can head directly to Tinalandia, which offers lunch and free run of its trails and facilities for $20 (£13) per person.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.