Haiti Land of Mountains


Haiti Land of Mountains

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Tell people that you’re going to Haiti and they’ll either never have heard of it, or think that you’re mad. But for those who know a little about this fascinating Caribbean gem, Haiti offers culture and history unparalleled elsewhere in the region, and it is blissfully devoid of the mass package tourism that affects its neighbours, offering a slice of the authentic Caribbean that is difficult to find elsewhere. For those with patience and an open mind, Haiti reveals a rich culture and history that is unique among post-colonial nations. 


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace

Relaxed

Tour Highlights

  • Citadelle Henry Christophe and the Palace of Sans Souci
  • The stunning waterfalls of Bassins Bleu
  • View an authentic vodou ceremony
  • A slice of the authentic Caribbean that is difficult to find elsewhere

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: 12
Start Point: Port au Prince
End Point: Cap Haitian
Transport: Minibus or 4WD, internal flights, boat, horses (if required)
Countries: Haiti

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Itinerary

Day 1 (Thursday) – Port au Prince

Arrive in Port au Prince. The rest of the time is free for you to relax or explore Haiti’s vibrant capital. A meeting will be held at 6pm for the group. Overnight Le Plaza or similar.

Port au Prince

Haiti’s capital is a bustling, lively town that can sometimes seem intimidating to first time visitors. However, beneath its brash veneer lies a town with a thriving arts scene and interesting historic monuments that can keep you busy for many days. It’s also a great place to get to grips with the local culture, with places such as the Iron Market throwing you headlong into the commercial life of Haiti and offering an introduction to Haiti’s belief in Vodou. Its streets are alive with vendors of all manner of goods and the city’s artistic heritage is evident in the open air galleries and workshops that can be found on the Grand Rue, where sculptors bend and smash scrap metal into innovative designs. Port au Prince is one of the best places in the country to see the distinctive ‘gingerbread houses’, graceful buildings dating back to the 19th century and reminiscent of a bygone era. Port au Prince became the capital of the French colony of St Domingue in 1770, and then became capital of newly independent Haiti in 1804. It consists today of Port au Prince proper, and the more affluent suburb of Petion-ville, originally constructed as an alternative to the capital but long since absorbed. Since the earthquake in 2010, Petion-ville has emerged as the commercial capital of Haiti. There is no denying that Port au Prince is chaotic and can be challenging, but it offers an intriguing snapshot of modern Haitian life and is essential to understanding the country itself.

Day 2 (Friday) – Barbancourt Distillery and Cité Soleil*

This morning we will visit the famous Barbancourt Rum Distillery, founded in 1862. This is a working distillery and the tour is subject to availability. The Barbancourt Distillery is one of Haiti's oldest, and its rum is one of the country's most famous exports, widely regarded as among the finest rums in the world. Later in the day we will head to Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest ‘shanty town’ and in the past a no go area for tourists and the local police. Thankfully, things have changed and you will get to see the work being done by the local community and the projects that are helping to change the image of this area. We are accompanied throughout by a local resident. Overnight Le Plaza or similar. (B)

*Please note: At present the U.K. FCO advise against all but essential travel to the Cité Soleil area of Port au Prince. For those not wishing to visit or concerned regarding their travel insurance cover, a free afternoon at the hotel is possible.

Day 3 (Saturday) – Port Au Prince and Vodou Ceremony

A tour of the historical parts of the city is followed by a visit to an authentic vodou ceremony. Later in the afternoon we head up into the mountains surrounding Port au Prince to visit the delightful village of Furcy. Take a stroll and enjoy the cool mountain air. Overnight Le Plaza or similar. (B)

Vodou in Haiti

Vodou is everywhere and nowhere in the Haiti, a spiritual system infusing everything from medicine and agriculture to cosmology and arts. The creation of the descendants of African slaves who were brought to Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) and converted by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries, Vodou shares much with Christianity. The Christian God is understood as the creator of the world, who created spirits to help govern humanity and the natural world. But Vodou departs from Christianity in how it views the cosmos as there is no heaven or hell in Vodou. Humans are simply spirits who inhabit the visible world in a physical body. Other spiritual forces populate the unseen world. The ancestors are also part of that spirit world, and can guide their children through dreams and signs. All these spirits dwell in a mythic land called Ginen, a cosmic Africa. Historically, Vodou has been an emancipatory faith that enslaved people turned to when they were brutalised and for that reason, French slave owners considered Vodou a threat and that is why it has been grossly misrepresented by white colonists and Haitian political and spiritual leaders alike.

Day 4 (Sunday) – Lake Azuéi

Today we head to Lake Azuéi, the largest lake in Haiti which is also known as Etang Saumâtre. Located 18 miles east of Port-au-Prince its eastern side is part of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We will be meeting an environmental specialist who will tell us about the work they are doing for water in this area. There’s an opportunity to go out on a boat to see the fish cages and there is also the chance to go for a swim. For the more adventurous, kayaking on the lake is available (pay locally). We return to the hotel later in the afternoon. Overnight Le Plaza or similar. (BL)

Day 5 (Monday) – Jacmel and Bassins Bleu

A picturesque drive across the mountains takes us to the pretty old coffee port of Jacmel, well endowed with historic buildings and a pleasure to explore. We visit the stunning waterfalls of Bassins Bleu as well as some of the town’s most interesting sites including the old coffee warehouses built in the New Orleans style of architecture and the pretty cathedral. Overnight Hotel Cyvadier or similar. (B)

Jacmel

Jacmel is a quiet city full of charm that dates back to 1698, when it was founded by French colonists. The city’s name derives from an Indian word which means ‘rich land’. By the end of the 18th century it had become a wealthy port, primarily through the trade in coffee which came to be so important for Haiti. The town also hosted the famous South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar in the early 19th century. Jacmel retains traces of its former glory and a tangible link with history that can be grasped when walking around its picturesque old quarter, with graceful old mansions and merchant’s warehouses giving a taste of Haiti’s yesteryear. It also has a thriving arts scene, and is a great place to wander around and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

Day 6 (Tuesday) – Route du Café and Port Salut

This morning we leave the hotel and begin a tour of the Route du Cafe.. Jacmel is a well known coffee growing area and you will get a chance to see the coffee making industry in the region. After lunch (not included) we travel out to the Highway and get the local tourist bus (not private) down to Aux Cayes, in the South of Haiti.  Once we arrive at Aux Cayes we get a ride to Port Salut and settle in to our hotel just 2 minutes away from the lovely long beach. Overnight at Le Rayn Vert (B)

Day 7 (Wednesday) - Marie Jeanne Caves and Aux Coteaux

The tour today starts with a visit to the Marie Jeanne Caves, a stunning underground cave system, reached by a 15 minute walk up a gravel path. The caves offer spectacular view of stunning, colourful rock formations and unspoiled fauna. Closed shoes are recommended (not sandals). From the Marie Jeanne Caves we continue to Coteaux and the "500 Marches de la Médaille Miraculeuse" meaning literally ‘500 steps to the Miraculous Medal’, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is a fairly steep walk up the steps but those who do will be rewarded with a great view. Overnight at Le Rayn Vert (B)

Day 8 (Thursday) – Travel to Cap Haitian

After breakfast, we will take a taxi back to Aux Cayes to board the 10am return bus to Port au Prince. On arrival in Port au Prince, we travel to the airport for or flight up to Cap Haitian, where we will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel. Overnight at Hotel Roi de Christophe (B)

Day 9 (Friday) - La Citadelle La Ferriere and the Palace of Sans Souci

Today we visit the country’s most incredible site – the vast Citadelle, an imposing fortress built atop a mountain to resist a French invasion that never came. We take a gentle horse ride (led by handlers) or walk to the top and explore the site with a local guide. We also visit the palace of Sans Souci situated below the Citadelle and dating back to the same time. Lunch is taken at a local community restaurant before we return to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Roi de Christophe (BL)

La Citadelle La Ferriere

Dramatically situated on top of a mountain, the Citadelle is the largest fortress in the western hemisphere and was built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of the slave revolution. Taking 20,000 men 15 years to build, it formed part of a system of fortifications constructed to defend Haiti against the French, who were expected to attack after the revolution to retake their colony. The Citadelle was designed with storerooms to hold enough food and water for 5,000 defenders for up to one year. The fortress included palace quarters for the king and his family, in the event that they needed to take refuge within its walls. With its numerous cannons, passageways and chambers, the Citadelle deserves thorough explorations and offers superb views for miles around.

Day 10 (Saturday) – Cap Haitian

We take a walking tour of Cap Haitian. It has a wealth of French colonial architecture, which has been well preserved. During and after the Haitian Revolution, many craftsmen from Cap Haïtien fled to French-controlled New Orleans as they were under attack by the mostly African slaves. As a result, the two cities share many similarities in styles of architecture. Especially notable are the gingerbread houses lining the city's older streets. The tour will also include some of the major historical forts nearby. On our return to Cap Haitian we travel out to our hotel for the last two nights, based on a beautiful beach. Overnight at Cormier Plage (BD)

Day 11 (Sunday) – Cormier Plage

A relaxing day by the beach. The hotel has tennis courts for the more energetic or maybe you would prefer to lie in one of the hammocks and listen to the waves crashing on the beach. There are no plans for today so you are free to fill your final day in Haiti as you please. Overnight at Cormier Plage (BD)

Day 12 – Cap Haitian

Transfer to Cap Haitian airport for departure flight. Tour ends. (B)

Tour Inclusions / Exclusions

Inclusions:

Arrival and departure transfers

Domestic flight

All accommodation

Services of English speaking guide / tour leader

Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)

Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

 

Excluded:

International flights

Any airport taxes

Travel Insurance

Visas

Drinks