Return to Villa Paj?n

tjmurray

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Aug 11, 2006
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I recently mentioned in a thread my favorite hotel in the country, Villa Paj?n in Valle Nuevo. Trying to find their contact details I realized the website was down and could not find a working number. I feared the worst...

So, I stopped by their office on Ave. Churchill in Santo Domingo this past Monday. I was assured by the secretary that everything was functional, but that the website was being updated and was taking forever. She gave me a brochure and asked when I would be visiting again. As I stared at the hotel brochure with photos of pine trees, a cozy log cabin den with a crackling fire in the chimney and wide open mountain ranges with people on horseback, I looked up and said: What about tomorrow?

Arrival to Villa Paj?n is simple. From Santo Domingo, you take the Autopista Duarte north, getting off at the Constanza exit. About 50km from the turn off, you will arrive in Constanza. As you enter the town, make an extreme left at the first traffic light (Calle Luper?n). This road more commonly known as the Carretera Contanza - San Jose de Ocoa. You will also see a sign just before the intersection that reads "Valle Nuevo" pointing you in the right direction. If you need any supplies before heading to Villa Paj?n, this is your last chance. Just past the traffic light on the right hand side is the Supermercado El Econ?mico. There is also a Banco Popular and Isla gas station at the intersection. Make sure to have cash of small denominations if you wish to purchase firewood or rent horses at Villa Paj?n. Besides food, be sure to bring a sponge to wash dishes, toilet paper and charcoal. These are the items most people forget.

After making the left towards Valle Nuevo the pavement ends after about 2km and the road splits - stay to the right. After about another 3km you'll see a sign pointing to the right for Villa Paj?n. This is a shortcut. If you stay on the Carretera Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa and do not make a right at this point, you will ultimately arrive at Villa Paj?n, but it will add an hour to the trip. Some people opt for the longer ride to visit the tallest waterfall in the Caribbean: Salto Aguas Blancas. The short cut to Villa Paj?n does not pass by Aguas Blancas.

I took the short cut. From the carretera, you drive down to, and cross, the Rio Grande; any car can make this crossing. After crossing the river the road deteriorates a bit but I was pleasantly surprised to see the road had been recently improved, something I confirmed later with one of the owners of Villa Paj?n. The road is not paved but the ruts have been leveled and the large rocks removed. I was driving in a 2x2 small SUV and arrived absolutely fine; a major difference from my last trip. I cannot give an update on the Carretera Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa past the short cut turn off for Villa Paj?n but I’m confident that any vehicle can now arrive at Villa Paj?n. About 15km from Constanza you’ll come to the entrance for El Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo: RD$50 pp and RD$100 per vehicle. 5km after the park entrance, you arrive at Villa Paj?n.

Villa Paj?n is one of the great escapes in the Dominican Republic. Propped up on one of the country’s highest stages in the Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo at 7,500 ft above sea level, you couldn’t be further from the quintessential image of a Caribbean island: pine forests, alpine grass savannas and even wild blackberries when in season. The cabins have full kitchens, hot water (very hot), fireplace and outdoor terrace with barbecue. There is no electricity but the cabins do have kerosene lamps in each room. You’ll need a large cooler with ice to store any meats or perishables during your stay.

I arrived with my dog Blondie at four in the afternoon on Tuesday. The thermometer on the front door of the cabin read 66 degrees, a nice change from Santo Domingo. Firewood is available for purchase at RD$300 for a large bundle that will easily last one night. After walking the grounds a bit which are immaculately kept with beds of daisies, high pine trees and distant views of the surrounding Cordillera Central Mountain Range, I started a fire in the chimney and in the barbecue with a mix of coal and wood. The temperature had now creeped down to 57 degrees. After dinner I fell asleep on the couch in front of the fireplace. When I woke up at 2am, I stepped outside to enjoy the planetarium-like night sky of Valle Nuevo. No light pollution to speak of. My breath was showing now. Thermometer: 48 degrees.

On Wednesday, Blondie and I hiked the surrounding area. We walked to a very small community about a 40 minute hike from the cabin where we found some beautiful views at a local potato farm. There is really only one formal hiking trail from Villa Paj?n which takes you past a small mountain stream and into the Parque de las Rocas. This is a light hike of about 40 minutes as well. This can also be done on horseback. Villa Paj?n will rent you a horse for only RD$100 per hour. They just give you a horse and you get lost. The horses know the way so there is really no need for a guide.

This time around I felt like walking and exploring something new. Along this formal trail, about a 30 minute walk from Villa Paj?n, you either make a right into the Parque Las Rocas, an area of open mountain grass with large rock outcroppings, or go straight past a sign that says: Do not enter. The gate was open so I thought I would try. Fortunately, we found a helpful gentleman working on the property of a log cabin owned by a family member of the owners of Villa Paj?n. He told us that following the trail to the end would take us to a small gazebo with some of the best mountain views around. He was right. The view was so incredible, we hung out for a couple hours to watch the sunset, hiking back in the dark.

Returning to Santo Domingo, we kept along the Carretera Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa. The conditions of this road are terrible, much worse than I remember it two years ago. I would recommend a vehicle with high clearance because of deep ruts and jutting rocks. My car made it but it wasn’t fun at all. During the 45km drive to San Jose de Ocoa, we made stops at the Francisco Caama?o memorial and the Pir?mide, a small stone pyramid sliced in four pieces and the supposed center of the Dominican Republic. The Fundaci?n Propagas has constructed a visitor center at the Pir?mide with bathrooms, barbecue and camping area, as well as two rooms for rent. The gentleman in charge had no idea how much the room was a night and directed me to contact the Ministry of Environment in Santo Domingo for pricing. They also had one map with some info for office use only and it was apparent the gentleman and his female assistant were not trained in offering tourist information as all of my question were answered with blank stares. Just after the Pir?mide, you begin a long descent to San Jose de Ocoa with all out views making the arduous road, you may have regretted up until this point, worthwhile.

On a side note, I made several contacts while at Villa Paj?n and I may be interested in organizing a tour. I’m mentioning this to try and gauge if anyone might be interested in visiting Villa Paj?n for a weekend. I do not have pricing yet but this tour would be organized through dr1.com so you can expect quality. Please PM me if interested.

You can check out photos at this public link for facebook: Tj Murray's Photos - Return to Villa Paj?n-Valle Nuevo | Facebook

To contact Villa Paj?n call 809.412.5210. Their website is not functional right now. All payments must be made before visiting. This can be done at their office in the capital or by making a deposit in their bank account.
 
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dulce

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Jan 1, 2002
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Thanks for the great report and beautiful photos. This looks like a good place to keep secret and unspoiled. Absolutely stunning!
 

El Tigre

El Tigre de DR1 - Moderator
Jan 23, 2003
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TJ thanks so much for sharing all of this with us. Since you have gone there a couple of times when do you recommend it's the best time of the year to visit?

I'd like to share with you that in Sep of 2008 I took the same shortcut/route you took towards villa pajon...but I continued to San Jose De Ocoa. We were in two montero sports and we all thought we were going to die in a couple of spots through the journey. The roads were badly deteriorated and in some of the passages the tires of the vehicles seemed to be only a few inches from really long drops in the cliffs. Really scary. We were conforted when we started following the trucks who deliver potatos to frito lay in Santo Domingo...these people had no fear of these cliffs and they crossed them in a breeze. All in all...really adventerous journey...but I would not do it again if I know the roads are in such bad shape.
 

tjmurray

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Aug 11, 2006
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TJ thanks so much for sharing all of this with us. Since you have gone there a couple of times when do you recommend it's the best time of the year to visit?

I'd like to share with you that in Sep of 2008 I took the same shortcut/route you took towards villa pajon...but I continued to San Jose De Ocoa. We were in two montero sports and we all thought we were going to die in a couple of spots through the journey. The roads were badly deteriorated and in some of the passages the tires of the vehicles seemed to be only a few inches from really long drops in the cliffs. Really scary. We were conforted when we started following the trucks who deliver potatos to frito lay in Santo Domingo...these people had no fear of these cliffs and they crossed them in a breeze. All in all...really adventerous journey...but I would not do it again if I know the roads are in such bad shape.

I don't know if there is a best time to visit. I guess it depends how cold you want the temperature to be. The owner of Villa Paj?n said that during the winter months, he gets between 15-20 frosts on his crops. Temperatures will drop to freezing or below in the Winter and maybe to the low 50's in Summer.

It rains a lot in Valle Nuevo; it has to. This is why they call it "Mother of the Waters" because over 400 rivers are born here. Unfortunately, the country is going through a drought and it has not been raining in Valle Nuevo. Strong rivers I swam in last year were still puddles this past week.

I don't remember any part of the road where I feared for my life. I remember one very small section that was a bit slim but from a life/death standpoint there is nothing to worry about along the Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa Road. Actually, a 4x4 isn't even necessary, just make sure you have clearance.
 

El Tigre

El Tigre de DR1 - Moderator
Jan 23, 2003
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I don't remember any part of the road where I feared for my life. I remember one very small section that was a bit slim but from a life/death standpoint there is nothing to worry about along the Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa Road. Actually, a 4x4 isn't even necessary, just make sure you have clearance.

I should have been clear on where in the journey we feared for our life...it wasn't on any part of the journey that led us to Villa Pajon. It was on the roads after the pyramid towards Ocoa. More specifically after this spot:



I believe this is the Valle Nuevo national park. After this spot we encountered a motorcross expedition and they told us "road is pretty bad but you will make it" I wish we would have turned back lol
 

tjmurray

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Aug 11, 2006
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Nice photo. Yes, this is the park ranger station not far from Villa Paj?n. I have it written down in my pad at home but I would guess about 7km after Villa Paj?n.

I was talking about the entire road from Constanza to San Jose de Ocoa. There was never a point where I felt in danger. There was only one very small 20 meter stretch that had a short, but steep incline on a very slim road. Other than that, all was fine.

I would encourage you to go again :)
 

El Tigre

El Tigre de DR1 - Moderator
Jan 23, 2003
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I got lucky with that picture. The elements were in my favor :)

I definitely want to try it again TJ. If you are on the island when I visit I will surelly be contacting you for tips.
 

tjmurray

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Aug 11, 2006
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I got lucky with that picture. The elements were in my favor :)

I definitely want to try it again TJ. If you are on the island when I visit I will surelly be contacting you for tips.

I live here so no worries. Would be happy to give any tips you may need.
 

sammytheman

Member
Sep 18, 2007
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Thank you again for a lovely report. I really enjoy reading your reports while sipping a nice cup of green tea. Now I really want to go to DR ASAP!!!!
 

hahm74

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May 7, 2007
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Best route to Aguas Blancas

Just wondering if you don't take the short cut to Villa Pajon, but stay on the Constanza - San Jose de Ocoa road, how far after the turnoff for the short cut do you have to drive before you get to Aguas Blancas? We're going to be staying at Villa Pajon and I like the idea of taking the short cut road, but would also like to see Aguas Blancas. Wondering if it would make sense to drive to Aguas Blancas and then backtrack to the short cut? Or is Aguas Blancas closer to Villa Pajon than it is to the turn off for the short cut? Would it make sense to drive to Villa Pajon via the short cut and then on a different day (we'll be there for at least 5 days) drive to Aguas Blancas? Or should we just visit Aguas Blancas on the way to Villa Pajon? Just trying to find a way to spend the least amount of time driving on rough roads.
 

tjmurray

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Aug 11, 2006
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In your case, I would not take the shortcut. Keep traveling along the Constanza-San Jose de Ocoa Road. You'll reach Aguas Blancas about 45 minutes to 1 hour after the turnoff for the shortcut to Villa Pajon.

To get to Aguas Blancas, you will take a detour route off the main road. This is a small mountian road that takes you up to the falls. When you return from Aguas Blancas and arrive at the main road, make a left and keep going. This road will take you to the entrance of the Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo and ultimately Villa Pajon.

This section of road is not in good condition. Expect deep ruts and rocks.
 

hahm74

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May 7, 2007
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Time from Aguas Blancas to Villa Pajon

How long would you say it takes to get from Aguas Blancas to Villa Pajon? I like to have some time estimates when driving so when the kids ask "Are we there yet?" for the tenth time, I have at least some idea of how much longer we've got to go.:squareeye
 

KoKi9290

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Dec 8, 2007
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Has anyone been on this road from San Jose de Ocoa to Constanza in the last couple of months. I was considering taking the route next week until I read this thread from over a year ago. I'm wondering if it has improved at all?
 

Caribbeandreamto

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Mar 26, 2011
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Has anyone been on this road from San Jose de Ocoa to Constanza in the last couple of months. I was considering taking the route next week until I read this thread from over a year ago. I'm wondering if it has improved at all?

The road has not improved at all. If you have a vehicle with clearance, then I say go for it. This road affords beautiful scenery and demonstrates the Dominican Republic's diversity when you begin your journey in pine forests and end up in a semi-arid climate. With the right vehicle, this is a nice ride.