The geographical center, up
in the Caribbean Alps, pine
trees, river-rafting, canyoning,
parapenting, mountain biking,
quad-riding, horseback riding,
mountain trekking, hiking, birdwatching,
bridges, cascades, freezing lows,
The two inland cities of Constanza and Jarabacoa are
the jewels in the crown of the Central Mountain Range,
which comprises the tallest range in the Caribbean
and is sometimes referred to as the Caribbean 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
Santiago’s Cibao International Airport is closest, about one hour
from Jarabacoa and 1.5 hour to Constanza, both 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 a
SUV when touring this sprawling area. Jarabacoa is arrived at via a wellpaved
road lined with pine trees that makes its way up 1,640 feet (500
Access to Constanza can be difficult, as the road is due for repair.
Those who venture up to its heights are rewarded with the feeling
of having discovered a Caribbean slice of Switzerland that lies threequarters
of a mile (1,200 meters) above sea level.
Consider landing at Constanza’s new airfield (COZ). Chartered planes
will take you there.
Staff at the small hotels in the area can assist you with booking
extreme sports such as river-rafting, cascading, canyoning, parapenting, mountain biking, quad-riding, horseback riding, mountain trekking, in
addition to less taxing hikes and bird-watching excursions.
lead to 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. Jarabacoa is the place to be for rafting.
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.
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.
Horse ranching is popular in Jarabacoa, and some of the finest horses
in the country are bred and kept there. The proud owners gather
frequently for trail rides, and the annual Rancho Baiguate horse rally,
that takes place during Easter Week, is a national institution.
Ébano Verde Scientific Reserve
Located in Arroyazo, which is
arrived at shortly before Constanza, this scientific reserve at its highest
point reaches 1,565 meters. 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 bath comprises part of the adventure.
Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve
Considered the geographical
center of the Dominican Republic. Some 17 kilometers from Constanza
by way of 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 Epoch (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) in winter and spring and you will want to dress accordingly.