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Jarabacoa & Constanza
Why choose Jarabacoa & Constanza?
The two inland cities of Constanza and Jarabacoa are the jewels in the crown of the Central Mountain Range, the tallest range in the Caribbean, sometimes referred to as the Dominican Alps. For a complete change of pace, the crisp air and alpine vegetation is every bit as enthralling as the beaches. Framed against intensely blue skies, they offer cooling respite from the coastal heat and an awesome visual panorama that unfolds in every direction.

What else is nearby?
The provincial capital, La Vega, is a bustling city famous for its carnival processions in February. The ruins of the colonial Spanish settlement at La Vega Vieja are within a few minutes drive, near the historic battleground of Santo Cerro, site of a Spanish victory against the indigenous Tainos.

Port of entry/How to get there?
Santiago's Cibao International Airport is closest, about one hour from Jarabacoa and 1.5 hour to Constanza, both are in the central province of La Vega.
Caribe Tours buses travel to Jarabacoa four times a day from Santo Domingo. Jarabacoa is equidistant from Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo at about 130 kilometers from each. From the city, taxis or minibuses will take you to your final destination. Consider renting an SUV when touring this sprawling area. Jarabacoa is reached via a well-paved road lined with pine trees that winds its way up to 1,640 feet (500 meters).
Access to Constanza can be difficult, as some sections of the road are due for repair. Visitors who venture up to its heights are rewarded with the feeling of having discovered a Caribbean slice of Switzerland that lies three-quarters of a mile (1,200 meters) above sea level.

Attractions
Staff at the small hotels in the area can assist you with extreme sports such as river-rafting, cascading, canyoning, paragliding, mountain biking, quad-riding, horseback riding, mountain trekking, in addition to less taxing hikes and bird-watching excursions.

River-rafting expeditions provide an adrenaline rush as the boat plows through the cool waters (wet suits are provided) of the Yaque del Norte River. A reservation should be made the previous day with the tour operator or through the area hotels, as most of the excursions start early in the morning.

Mountain biking. The Rancho Baiguate was the site for the mountain biking competitions of the 2003 Pan American Games. The company can arrange cycling excursions in the area and maintains the routes available, which are of varying degrees of difficulty and of which some pass by the waterfalls.

Swimming spots
Waterfalls abound in this region, but a couple of them outshine the rest. The Salto de Jimenoa lies over the Jimenoa River's hydroelectric dam, across which spans a hanging bridge. A visit here makes an exciting morning or afternoon outing.
Another outstanding example is Aguas Blancas, which, at a height of 1,800 meters and a vertical drop of 87 meters, is the Caribbean's tallest cascade. This attraction lies 10 kilometers south of Constanza.

Nearest city
Jarabacoa and Constanza each have a population of approximately 52,000. The country's second city, Santiago and the provincial capitals of La Vega and Bonao are the nearest urban centers.

Excursions:

Mountain trekking - Reachable by car/4 wheel SUV:
Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve. Located in Arroyazo, which is shortly before Constanza, this scientific reserve reaches 1,565 meters at its highest point. It features the Fernando Domínguez Visitors Center from where walks into the tree-named green ebony forest can be taken. The trails through the 37 square kilometers of the reserve to observe more than 687 plant species are well-kept and the trees are labeled. A chilly river swim completes the adventure.

Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve. This is considered the exact geographical center of the Dominican Republic. Some 17 kilometers from Constanza via San José de Ocoa, this is the highest plain in the Caribbean at more than 8,000 feet in height (2,450 meters) and is believed to have once been covered by a glacier during the Pleistocene Era (11,000 to 1.8 million years ago). There you will find rustic cabañas where visitors can stay and get a feel for the Caribbean mountains, without the hardship of the hike. Note that temperatures may drop below 32°F (0°C) at any time of the year and you will need to dress accordingly.

Reachable on foot or by mule:
Located in the Armando Bermúdez National Park, Duarte Peak, at 10,125 feet (3,087 meters), is the tallest mountain in the Caribbean and several routes will lead you to this summit. The Hispaniola Trail takes visitors through mind-boggling scenery of tropical forests, endemic coniferous pine, montane broadleaf and cloud forests. The shortest and most popular route is that of Jarabacoa-Manabao-La Ciénaga by car. At the Ministry of Environment campsite, the trip is arranged for the following day, with mules hired to carry the supplies or exhausted hikers. From there, it is a two-hour hike to the Los Tablones resting station, with its small crystalline river where you may stock up on water. From there on, only those in good physical shape are advised to continue. This route usually goes through La Laguna on to the height known as “Repentance Hill” and then to Compartición. Travelers have the option of camping at Compartición or continuing on to the brand new parador built near Valle de Lilís, less than an hour's walk from coveted Duarte Peak. On average the temperatures can range from 54ºF (12ºC) to 70ºF (21ºC), dropping in the high areas to below 32ºF (0ºC) in the early morning hours during any time of the year.

At the designated resting spots, usually near watering areas, the Ministry of Environment has posted signs to indicate the distance covered and how much is left to go.

Culture
La Vega Carnival. Every Sunday throughout the month of February, the best of the Dominican carnivals take place in the city of La Vega, the provincial capital that lies half an hour from Jarabacoa and Constanza. The Bonao carnival parades, about half an hour from La Vega, are also growing in popularity. Santiago's carnival is one of the oldest and most traditional in the country.

Shopping
Jarabacoa prides itself on offering works of art not to be found anywhere else. Several nationally acclaimed artists have taken up residence in the mountain town.

Constanza is one of the country's primary farming districts and is the site of flower cultivation and boasts delicious strawberries, among other fruits and vegetables, that can be purchased at road stands that also sell arepas and cepa de apio (celery root), a local specialty made into a puree.

Nightlife
Most visitors to Jarabacoa and Constanza do so for intense days of outdoor activity. By the time the evening rolls around, these people just want to relax. Thus, each town offers a handful of very good restaurants that serve some of the best Dominican food anywhere. One or two beer bars and discotheques stay open until late, mainly catering to crowds of domestic tourists that venture to these mountain areas at peak travel times during the year.

Sports:

Golf
Jarabacoa Golf Club. Quintas de Primavera, La Vega province • Tel: (809) 573-2474, (809) 854-2631 Fax: (809) 573-6663 • Year opened: 1984 • Number of holes: 9 • Course description: Built amid pine trees, this course's setting is a mountain resort.

Bonao Golf Club. Bella Vista, Monseñor Nouel province • Tel: (809) 525-3788 after 2 pm • Number of holes: 9 holes, par 3 • Course description: Flat, short course, built for the employees of the Falconbridge mining company.

Las Aromas, Santiago Golf Club. Santiago de los Caballeros • Tel: (809) 264-0054, Fax: (809) 582-3160 • Year opened: 1980 • Number of holes: 18 holes, par 70 • Course description: Located in a hilly area with lovely panoramic views of Santiago city and the Yaque del Norte River.
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