The entrance to El Sendero De Cacao is simply beautiful. It opens up to a long driving where cacao trees are a dime a dozen. The main house is covered in beautiful vibrant colours and there is a cacao bar where they await you with delicious warm chocolate milk or chocolate water that is bursting with flavour.
The tour begins at the start of the plantation, where a lovely guide explains to you the plantation of the cacao trees. There are two methods that are used and both with pros and cons. Then you continue on into the plantation where they explain to you the different cacao pods and how they are harvested. During the process one can never ask to many questions, or try to many cacao fruit. I was on a high from the delicious floral flavour of the cacao fruit and simply could not get enough. As this time of year is low season and they only harvest about 20 % of their crops, January to June is their high season where they harvest the remaining 80%.
Throughout the tour of the plantation they also explain the different problems that can arise with the crops, such as certain animals and insects having a little too much fun eating the fruit. For this reason, they have scarecrows in place for the birds and boa Hispaniola snake for the mice.
Upon harvesting the cacao fruit, the seeds are placed into wooden boxes to begin the fermentation process. After several days, they get transferred from box to another box. As El Sendero De Cacao is an organic plantation, no chemicals are used for this process. Then comes the dehydration in the sun, where 97% of the seeds are dried out. At this point, the seeds can be eaten, which remains in a raw state to enjoy all the wonderful benefits cacao has to offer. The shells of the seeds are mainly used for tea and the cacao pods are used for organic fermentation.