There it is: the Cordillera Central, the highest mountain range in the Dominican Republic and in all of the West Indies. Beginning as the Massif du Nord (“Northern Massif”) in Haiti, it crosses the border and winds its way down to the southeastern corner of Hispaniola and the town of San Cristóbal on the Caribbean coastal plains.
Some islanders prone to hyperbole even call it the “Dominican Alps!”
While it may not have jagged, snow capped peaks like those found in Europe, it does have a decidedly atypically Caribbean climate. At these heights, temperatures remain cool year-round and even dip several degrees below freezing on cold winter nights. Imagine waking up, knowing you’re in the Caribbean, but still finding a layer of frost coating the ground. Talk about an Uncommon Caribbean sight!
At the heart of the Cordillera Central is Pico Duarte, soaring to the dizzying height of 10,130 feet, making it the tallest mountain in the Caribbean… a distinction it only barely holds. In fact, it only stands three or four meters taller than its twin sister, La Pelona. Still, to put Pico Duarte’s height into perspective, keep in mind that it’s taller than any mountain east of the Mississippi on the North American continent!
Along its towering shoulders live rare birds like the Hispañiolan Parrot, Hispañiolan Woodpecker, White-necked Crow, Hispañiolan Trogon, the Red-tailed Hawk and 47 reported amphibians and reptiles. There are even wild boar roaming this West Indian mountain!
Recently, I had arguably our most unique adventure to date when I set out to make the trek to the top of this challenging peak. If you haven’t read of those (mis)adventures, check out part 1 to see what I went through to get to the one-of-a-kind Caribbean view at the top.
If you’re inspired to complete this trek for yourself, I’d highly recommend getting five fit friends to join your party (you don’t want to do this alone like I did), then giving the great folks at Iguana Mama Eco-Tours in Cabarete a call to try their Pico Duarte multi-day hiking excursion.
Of course, if hiking for hours on end, in frigid weather, up steep inclines slathered in deep mud surrounded by dangerous wild boar isn’t your idea of island fun, just download this week’s Caribbean wallpaper and enjoy the view of the Cordillera Central from the comfort of your computer screen!
Which will you choose?