Caribbean Tourism

Jarabacoa

Continuing along the highway, on the left, is the turn for Jarabacoa. The road winds through some beautiful pine forests to the town itself, which is a popular summer hill resort in a valley in the mountains. The climate is fresh, with warm days and cool nights.


On the road between La Vega and Jarabacoa are several Centros Vacacionales. It is an important agricultural area, growing coffee, flowers, strawberries, watercress and other crops, much of which is exported. The town itself is quite modern, with plenty of plots of land for sale. Everything is in walking distance and most things can be found along the main street, Calle Mario Nelson Galán.

Several notable artists and sculptors live in the area and are willing to receive visitors to their studios or give classes. The best known is Roberto Flores, a professor at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo, whose work can be seen in the local church, where he has painted a mural, and hanging on the walls at Rancho Baiguate and Rancho Restaurant. Much of his inspiration comes from mythology, with elongated people and angels. An up and coming artist is Eduardo Rodríguez, who paints landscapes, local mountains and rivers in bright detail. Jarabacoa is a centre for adventure sports.

Rivers & waterfalls are spectacular features in this area. Many people come here for the rivers, to see the waterfalls or to go white water rafting or canyoning. Nearby is the balneario (swimming hole) of La Confluencia, at the confluence of the Río Jimenoa and Río Yaque del Norte where barbecues and dancing are held at holiday times (crowded, lots of litter). The Jimenoa waterfalls are worth seeing, 10 km from town, although they are often crowded with tour parties, best to go early or late and avoid Sundays. Turn off the road to La Vega past ranches breeding paso fino horses, and a 9-hole golf course. Hurricane Georges wreaked havoc in 1998, washing away the power plant and bridge by the falls. Electricity for Jarabacoa now comes from Constanza. A new walkway has been made, with wobbly suspension bridges (avoid too many people on them at any one time). The falls are very large, with a tremendous volume of water and consequent noise. There used to be a nice pool at the foot of the falls, but there is too much water now and if you want to swim you have to do it further down the river. The last wall is used for canyoning, then you swim down and come out on rocks below. Mini-rafting is on offer at weekends, US$2. Entry RD$10, which goes towards the upkeep of walkways.

There is another waterfall on the Río Jimenoa, off the road to Constanza, which is more difficult to get to and unsigned, so you will have to ask for directions locally or go with a group. The falls are very steep, dropping 75 m over a cliff, and their dramatic location attracted the makers of the movie, Jurassic Park.Closer to town, off the Constanza road, are the Baiguate falls 3½-4 km, an easy walk, there is a signpost to the falls, fourth turn on the right after Pinar Dorado. A path leads around the hillside, hugging the side of the gorge, until you get to some steps down to a sandy river beach and the rocks beneath the falls. Hurricanes and storms have occasionally changed the geography here, but not as much as at Jimenoa.There are usually lots of tours to the falls by jeep or horse (sometimes you can ride a horse back if the previous rider has opted for the jeep return), but in 2000 Japanese engineers were working on the road and an irrigation project, so it was not open every day.

The Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve is a cloud forest reserve created in 1989 to protect the tree of the same name. It is managed by the Fundación Progressio, T5651422, F5493900, a private, non-profit organization, under an agreement with the DNP. The park is very accessible, information is provided on almost every tree and paths are easy to follow. 621 species of plants have been listed so far, and 59 species of birds, of which 17 are native and 13 endangered, including el zumbadorcito (Mellisuga minima), the second smallest bird in the world, found only here and in Jamaica.

A very interesting an informative excursion is to visit the local coffee factory, Café La Joya, where you can see the whole process from the growing of seedlings to packing the roasted beans for export (mostly to Europe for blending). The tour usually starts with a 45-min video about the growing coffee plants, as you are not taken out onto the mountainside to visit them. Some 1 million seedlings are grown at the factory, each of which are expected to yield 3 lbs of café molido. When the picked beans come back to the factory to dry, you see the whole business of drying, sorting, hulling, sorting again by size and colour with machines and then yet again by hand. There is a huge room full of women going through each bean to grade them. You see the laboratory and tasting room and there is a small shop with artesanías and coffee products which benefit the local community. Tours must be organized in advance, best done through Rancho Baiguate.


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