Haiti - Caribbean Treasure
Haiti - Caribbean Treasure
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.
Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●○○○○
- Citadelle Henry Christophe and the Palace of Sans Souci
- The stunning waterfalls of Bassins Bleu
- Croix des Bouquets
- A slice of the authentic Caribbean that is difficult to find elsewhere
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: Port au Prince
Transport: Minibus or 4WD, internal flights, horses
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.
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.
Day 1 – 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. 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 – Port au Prince
Spend today exploring the city and its surroundings. We visit some of Port au Prince’s key historical sites, including its ‘gingerbread houses’, the Historical Pantheon Museum as well as delving into the Iron Market with its food section and Vodou paraphernalia. We also spend time at the Grand Rue to see the sculptors at work, recycling all manner of items into works of art. Overnight Le Plaza or similar. (BL)
Day 3 - Furcy
Head up into the mountains surrounding Port au Prince to visit the delightful village of Furcy. We take walks in the surrounding area for great views, with the opportunity to meet local villagers. We finish the day by visiting the suburb of Petionville, with its art galleries and genteel atmosphere. Overnight Le Plaza or similar. (B)
Day 4 – Jacmel
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 some of the town’s most interesting sites including the old coffee warehouses built in the New Orleans style of architecture, the Iron Market and the pretty cathedral. Overnight Hotel Cyvadier or similar. (BL)
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 5 – Bassins Bleu – Port au Prince
Visit the stunning waterfalls of Bassins Bleu before driving back to Port au Prince, where the rest of the day is free. Overnight Le Plaza Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 6 – Cap Haitian
Fly to Cap Haitian to 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 to the top (led by handlers) and explore the site with a local guide and also visit the palace of Sans Souci 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, an old palace belonging to a French governor dating back to the 18th century. (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 7 – Cormier Plage / Cap Haitian
Today you have the option to have a day on a Caribbean beach as we will transfer to the nearby beach of Cormier Plage to experience rural Haitian life or you can take boats out to outlying islands (additional cost payable locally). Alternatively, you are free to stay in Cap Haitian where you can spend the time at your leisure. Overnight at Hotel Roi de Christophe (BD)
Day 8 – Port au Prince
After a morning by the beach we fly back to Port au Prince where you have time to explore or do a spot of souvenir shopping for the excellent handicrafts to be found here. Overnight Le Plaza Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 9 – Sugar Cane Museum - Croix des Bouquets
Today we begin with a tour of an old Sugar Cane Plantation Museum with equipment and explanations of this era of Haitian history. The museum is set in a lovely park where we will also have lunch. We then continue to Croix des Bouquets, renowned for its artistic traditions where we can see ironworkers creating amazing works of art from scrap metal. Croix des Bouquets is also a stronghold of Vodou, and we hope to be able to glimpse something of this intriguing religion. Tonight we have a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Le Plaza Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Croix des Bouquets
The unique village of Noailles in the area of Croix-des-Bouquets is one of Haiti’s most fascinating sights, where every house is a metal sculpture workshop. And every workshop has their own different designs, all made out of recycled metal drums or parts of old cars. From trees of life to little metal trivets with dragonflies or butterflies, and beautiful Haitian designed crosses there is a huge variety of work produced here. Particularly notable are the original Vodou designs and masks.
Day 10 – Port au Prince
Transfer to airport for departure flight. Tour ends. (B)
Arrival and departure transfers
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
Any airport taxes