- 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
While Cabarete is the extreme sport capital of the north, Jarabacoa is that of the Cordillera Central. Travelers who are not content with a vacation of being sand-potatoes with a drink in their hand and doing nothing but gathering UV rays come here, to the central highlands, for excitement and adventure in sports such as mountain biking, river rafting, cascading, canyoning, and quad riding.
These are conquer-your-fears sports. They get your adrenaline pumping maniacally through your bloodstream and push you in ways you weren’t expecting. The exhilaration of rushing rapids while rafting on the Río Yaque del Norte, the concentration and agility needed for a top-speed bicycle spin down a mountain trail, the “don’t look down” butterflies of stepping over that first edge during canyoning—these are only a few of the emotions spawned while taking advantage of all the sports that Jarabacoa has to offer.
Jarabacoa Golf Club (tel. 809/782-9883, 7:30 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) is a 9-hole uneventful golf course nestled in the pine woods just outside of Jarabacoa. Greens fees are US$30 to go twice around and play a full 18 holes. Caddies and carts are optional. This course is well marked by a sign on the road to Jarabacoa about one kilometer before reaching the town.
Day hikes are fun for an afternoon of rigorous activity but without the commitment you need to do the hike to Pico Duarte.
El Mogote is the best choice for a same day trek. Take the Carretera Jarabacoa–Manobao (a road that also leads you to the La Ciénega setting-off point for the trek to Pico Duarte) to get there. Two kilometers outside of town, you will turn up a steep hill on the left (there is no sign). Allow yourself 5–6 hours round-trip for this hike. Take food, wear some hiking boots if you have them, and remember your water. Pace yourself; it is incredibly steep in some points. At the base of this hike, you’ll find the Selesian monastery Centro Selesiano, whose monks have taken the vow of silence and support themselves with their pasta factory.
Although there are other day hikes (very poorly marked) that can be done independently, you can also go with Rancho Baiguate. Give a day or two warning that you’re coming so you can reserve your spot and find out the appropriate time of departure.
The Río Yaque del Norte is a fast-flowing river that rises up from the northern slopes of the Cordillera Central and runs northwest until it spills into the Bahía de Monte Cristi. Its waters are used as irrigation for farms growing rice, sugarcane, and tobacco, and in most recent years for carrying the rafts of white-water-rafting adventure seekers like you. Conquering this bad boy can be an exhilarating activity for a day trip.
Rafting outfitters will provide helmets as well as a wetsuit, lifejacket, and a lesson in rafting technique and safety. This trip takes a fair amount of strength as there is a lot of paddling to be done, and it is not a suitable trip for kids under the age of 12. Outfitters will most likely provide meals and a snack as well. These are Class III rapids on a scale of I–VI. Getting wet is the idea as you carve your way through the canyons of the Dominican Alps, so dress accordingly: shorts, T-shirt, and rubber-soled shoes. Bring a change of clothes with you or you will have a soggy, itchy trip home.
Adventure Sport Tours
Rancho Baiguate (Jarabacoa, Carretera a Constanza, tel. 809/574-6890, www.ranchobaiguate.com) offers an extensive list of excursions, such as local activities like canyoning (US$50), mountain biking, trekking (US$17.50 for two hours or US$25 for four hours), river rafting (US$50), and horseback and jeep tours to the waterfalls (US$9–21). Or conquer your fear of heights on the Maroma’s Parcour ropes course (US$16). Treks to Pico Duarte come in 3- to 5-day packages and vary in price (starting at US$255) depending on how many people are in the group. Price quotes and reservations can be made via phone or email.
Iguana Mama (Cabarete, tel. 809/571-0908, www.iguanamama.com, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) is one of the most reputable and highly recommended adventure tour companies in the country. Although it based in Cabarete, they do many tour excursions in Jarabacoa. Programs include guided mountain-biking tours, white-water rafting (US$80), and multiday treks to Pico Duarte (US$450), among many other excursions and trip packages throughout the country.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition