- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
La Ciénaga to Pico Duarte
This route starts in the small town of La Ciénaga just west of Jarabacoa. It is the most popular route to Pico Duarte because it is the shortest and easiest, at 23.1 kilometers one way. Hiring an independent guide is easier in La Ciénaga than in other launching points. The park guides recommend to reserve three days and two nights for this hike. Beginning a final ascent to the peak well before dawn will reward you with the astonishing sunrise while on top. This route’s vertical ascent is about 2,280 meters.
Getting to La Ciénaga from Jarabacoa is as easy as flagging down a público, a regular car (usually rather worn down) used as an inexpensive taxi. Or catch a guagua for about US$3.
Mata Grande to Pico Duarte
Mata Grande is the second most difficult route and a popular alternative to the La Ciénaga route. It comes recommended as the most beautiful route of the five. It is a hike of 90 kilometers round-trip that takes three days and has a 3,800-meter ascent, leaving from Mata Grande near San José de las Matas. You’ll go over the second-highest peak, La Pelona, too, finally summiting Pico Duarte on the third day.
Hiring mules and guides in Mata Grande is similar to in La Ciénaga; secure them two days ahead, and strongly consider hiring a pack mule (the guide may insist) and even a cook (US$10 per day). Your guide and/or cook can help you decide how much food to bring and what to buy.
If you are looking for a more challenging climb than the La Ciénaga one, this is a good choice. Making the trip with organized tours is possible and often easier on you, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. The trailhead at Mata Grande is located about 13 miles south east of San José de las Matas; take the marked turnoff at Pedregal toward Mata Grande, 15 kilometers down the road to the ranger station.
Sabaneta to Pico Duarte
Sabaneta to Pico Duarte (the Sabaneta just north of San Juan de la Maguana—not the one near Dajabón) is the most arduous of the direct routes and takes three days. The vertical ascent is 3,800, just like the Mata Grande trek, but 96 kilometers round-trip. There are two campsites along the way: Alto de la Rosa and Macutico, where you’ll stop on the first and second nights.
Again, a guide is obligatory and pack mules are highly recommended. The positive aspect about this trek is that since it is the longest, there will be less overcrowding. Take the highway to Sabaneta north for 20 kilometers from San Juan de la Maguana.
Constanza to Pico Duarte
The Constanza route is 86 kilometers round-trip and has a 1,600-meter vertical ascent that takes 3–5 days to navigate depending on your ability level. Constanza is the easternmost departure point. On the first day of your hike via this route, you’ll see the impact that humans have had on the area as you will traverse farmland and small towns and onward into more densely vegetated areas on the second day that are recovering from previous human encroachment.
The turnoff for Constanza is between La Vega and Bonao on the Carretera Duarte. The only tour company offering this route is Mountain Expedition out of Constanza; otherwise this is a very difficult route to navigate on your own.
Las Lagunas to Pico Duarte
The Las Lagunas route is 72 kilometers round-trip and has a vertical ascent of 2,000 meters. It’s a six-day trip leaving from Las Lagunas outside of Padre Las Casas in the Azua Province. After about 20 kilometers, it unites with the Constanza route.
To get to the Las Lagunas liftoff spot, you’ll leave San Juan de la Maguana, traveling east along the Carretera Sánchez; turn left (north) at the sign for the Cruce de las Yayas and go nine kilometers to Padre Las Casas. Take a left at the town’s main intersection and travel about 100 meters farther to the ranger station.
No tour companies offer this trek, so you will need to hire a guide and mules here.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition