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 Jarabacoa & Constanza

   The geographical center, up in the Caribbean Alps, pine trees, river-rafting, canyoning, parapenting, mountain biking, quad-riding, horseback riding, mountain trekking, hiking, birdwatching, waterfalls, hanging bridges, cascades, freezing lows, carnival...

   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 direction.

Getting there

   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 meters).
   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.

River-rafting expeditions
   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.

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.

   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.

Mountain trekking

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.
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