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Hiking and trekking in the Dominican Republic
Major walking and climbing
The really serious trekking and hiking takes place in Parque Nacional Armando Bermudez and Jose del Carmen Ramirez, where Pico Duarte is located. These two parks cover almost the entire expanse of the Cordillera Central. The climb up Pico Duarte is a three-day trek, best taken with guides and porters along clearly signposted trails with well-equipped rest stops. The trek starts in lush, humid rainforest, and ascends to the clear air of alpine landscape, where even during the daytime temperatures remain low. At night, especially in the winter, it can reach freezing point. The Pico Duarte peak visit times are for the New Year long weekend and the Virgen de la Altagracia Day holiday (21 January) and the nation founding father Duarte holiday (26 January). Unless you like crowds, you may want to avoid those times that are chosen because of the chilly weather and the less likelihood of rain.

The Jaragua National Park and surrounding areas in the southwest is of particular interest for bird watchers. You can visit cloud forests, dry forests, arid lowlands and the fascinating Lake Enriquillo, 44m below sea level and home to iguanas and crocodiles.The wetlands near Cabo Rojo are a birdwatcher’s heaven. Guided tours, combining road and foot trails, are available from the capital from Tody Tours and other specialist operators.

As well as the three-day adventure that climbing to Pico Duarte entails, there are shorter and medium length trips to choose from. Rancho Wendy, near the central city of Bonao, offers a wide choice of treks and hikes in the mountains of the Central Cordillera, including Pico Duarte. These adventures take you to rivers, waterfalls, lakes and caves in the scenic central sierras.

The north coast, where many tourists are based, is the ideal starting point for hikes and treks in the area. Specialist travel company Iguana Mama has a series of options for the area and beyond. Iguana Mama organizes tours to El Choco National Park, a 77km2 expanse of forest lagoons, caves, rich in tropical flora. Another option is the Damajagua Falls excursion which combines trekking, canyoning and cascading. Iguana Mama also offer a Pico Duarte trip.

If you are in the Samana peninsula, there are some short hikes like the one to Salto El Limon with the reward of a refreshing swim in the freshwater pool created by the waterfall when you reach the end. There are also several treks along the wilder parts of the coastline ending at isolated beaches, like Playa Fronton, which is reached from the town of Las Galeras on the NE corner of the peninsula.

Whether you want a burst of activity in the middle of your beach vacation, or an intensive trekking vacation in itself, the Dominican Republic has a good range of options to choose from.
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