Before conquering Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic, I collected bit by bit information on the Internet for three weeks. And I didn’t find anything suitable. This article is for those who love mountains, who want to independently conquer the highest peak of the Dominican Republic. There will be only personal experience and my photos. If you are looking for a detailed guide to action – you have found it. Make tea, take a sandwich. For the next 15 minutes, good reading is provided to you.

Table of contents:

pico duarte La Comparticion base camp
This is the base camp at an altitude of 2450m, where you will spend the night. Very atmospheric place. It is only 6 km from here to the Pico Duarte summit.

Pico Duarte: self-guided climb

This article will help you save a lot of money, time, get a lot of emotions and answer all your questions. The purpose of the article is to give you comprehensive information regarding this attraction, which is often bypassed. Read about the TOP 20 attractions of the Dominican Republic at the link.

Climbing route to Pico Duarte
The road to Peak Duarte sometimes goes through such canyons. In the photo, our entire team for the next two days: my wife, our two mules and Eduardo – our guide. Eduardo did not walk a single step :).

Pico Duarte – facts about the mountain

First about the facts:

  • Peak Duarte is the highest peak of the Dominican Republic, the entire island of Hispaniola, all the Antilles and the entire Caribbean.
    • Having conquered this peak, you will immediately find yourself on the highest point of the entire Caribbean region in this part of the planet. And this includes almost 25 countries of the world.
  • Height of Peak Duarte. Many sources write that the height is 3175m and even a little higher. Wikipedia says that 3093m. And the sign on the top says 3087m.
    • Firstly, this is a three-thousand meter mountain, and this is already a great achievement in your life.
    • Secondly, this mountain was discovered in 1851. Then each researcher tried to slightly overestimate the data so that his mountain was higher than the others. At that time there was no unified system for measuring the height of mountain peaks. And the height of 3175m was recorded at the time of the first conquest of the Pico Duarte summit.
the peak of the Dominican Republic
This is how the top of the Dominican Republic looks like, where you are going.

It is important to know:

Years passed, satellites flew into space, and modern scientists have ultra-precise methods for measuring heights by means of space topographic survey. And thanks to satellites, the height was first corrected to 3093m, and in 2010 – to 3087m. And today it is the most accurate data.
  • Pico Duarte is part of the central Cordillera, one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. This chain passes through the Americas, and the nearest islands, such as the island of Hispaniola.
  • The government took under the protection of the central part of the country and these mountains and created the Armando Bermudez National Park.
  • Often they write on the Internet that you can come here and just take a walk, supposedly this is a beautiful park.
    • All this is nonsense. There is nowhere to walk here. There is only one route for everyone – to the top of all the Caribbean! Just going here for the sake of walking for 2-3 hours makes no sense. Below is a map and timetable of our trip. You will understand that you need to go here only for the sake of conquering the mountain.
The road to the top of Pico Duarte
The route itself is very scenic. And the vegetation, and views of the area. The real jungle. Please note that it is still hot here, we go undressed.

The highest peaks of the Dominican Republic

  • There are three mountains in the Dominican Republic with a height of more than 3000m. All three peaks are in Armando Bermudez Park. And you will pass by one of them if you go to conquer Peak Duarte. But is anyone interested in the second or third highest peak? Everyone wants to conquer the highest peak of all the Caribbean, and not the third highest in the Dominican Republic.
    • Pico Duarte – 3087m
    • Mount La Pelona – 3085m. It seems the difference is only 2m, but this peak is no longer interesting to anyone.
    • Mount La Rusilla – 3049m.

I think that the general facts about the top are enough. And the idea has already been formed, and the desire to conquer the peak is stronger than it was.

Pico Duarte: route, map, general information

Further there will be all the useful information for the ascent. I will say right away, I will write as best I can. I’m not a climber, I just love mountains. My wife and I ourselves conquered Olympus in Greece, Etna in Sicily, and Vesuvius in Naples. Peak Duarte is higher than all these peaks and this is our biggest challenge.

Pico Duarte Route Map

It is important to know:

Below on the Google map is the route for your general understanding. Information about each point will be further in the article. Tip of the day: download the maps.me application on your phone, install it and download the map of the Dominican Republic. It’s free. This is the best map where you will find the whole trekking route on the map, all water sources, all shelters on the way to the base camp. Don’t use google maps in this case.

Technical information for climbing

First the general facts:

  • The beginning of the trail, office in the park, parking – at an altitude of 1110m above sea level.
  • The base camp where you will spend the night is at an altitude of 2450m.
  • Peak Duarte – 3087m.
  • The length of the route from the National Park Office to the Pico Duarte summit is 23.1 km.
  • The length of the route from the office to the base camp (this is the route for the first day) is 18 km.
  • Between the base camp and the Pico Duarte summit – 6km and 630m climb.
start of trekking at Peak Duarte
This is where the ascent to the mountain begins. If you look closely, you can see that to Pico Duarte – 23 km. Also, on such boards along the entire route, the height above sea level is always indicated. Here you look in the lower right corner – 1110 meters.

Time and options for climbing Peak Duarte

There are two routes, or rather one route, but two time options. One is lighter and more expensive. The second is short, heavy, for the brave and a little crazy, like my wife and I. It is suitable for those who came to the Dominican Republic for a week or two, and he does not have time to lie down and look at the sky, and there is not much money either.

La Cienaga de Manabao
Day 1: We walk to the base camp only 5 hours. The village I point at is La Cienaga de Manabao. This is where we started our journey.
Option 1 is easy and is designed for three days:
  • First day: Start at 7-8 am from the National Park Office.
  • During daylight hours, you need to walk 18km, climb to a height of 2750m and then go down to the base camp up to 2450m.
  • This journey took us 8 hours.
  • Dinner and overnight stay at the base camp.
  • Second day: Sleep in the morning, have breakfast at your leisure
  • Go to the conquest of the highest peak of the Caribbean Islands.
  • Go a little more than 6km, and climb about 630m. We passed this section in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Spend about an hour at the top, emotions are overwhelming. You have conquered Duarte Peak and you are proud of yourself.
  • The descent to the base camp takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • The rest of the day is rest for your feet, dinner and a second overnight stay.
  • Third day: breakfast and descent to the beginning of the trail. This route completely repeats the first day. Walk around 6 hours. If you leave at 8 am, by 2 pm you will be at the car in the parking lot.
Pico Duarte top photo
Pablo Duarte himself is waiting for you at the top. There’s also a flag, but it’s not in the photo.
Option 2, difficult, but for two days:
  • First day. Exactly the same as in the first option. Your task is to reach the base camp and not die. Since on the second day the most difficult will begin.
  • We have dinner and very tired we go to bed early.
  • Second day: Wake up at 4:15 am. We hardly open our eyes, drink water, and at 4:30 we go to the top.
  • Walk, as I wrote above, about 2 hours 15 minutes, in total – at 6:45 am you are at the top. And at 7 in the morning it’s already dawn.
  • Additionally, I would like to add that the sunrise in such a place is something special. A breathtaking view.
dawn almost at the very top of the Dominican Republic
Sunrise, and we are at an altitude of 3050 meters (indicated on the sign). It is only 37 meters to the top! And we’re above the clouds.

It is important to know:

Flashlights are required for this option and the guide does not have them. Take yours. It is also very cold here, especially at 6 am. But all this will be below. What else to take to the Dominican Republic, read the link.
  • Then you descend to the base camp. Drink coffee with chocolate.
  • The clock is around 10 am, and there is no time to rest. You still have to walk 18 km to the entrance to the park and to your car.
  • In total, by 6pm you will finish and say: I DID IT!

It is important to understand:

Choosing the second option, on the second day you will walk 40km, you will have a climb of 1000m, and a descent of 2300m. It’s very hard. Be sure to take chondroprotectors with you (most often in the form of powders) for joints, it helps a lot. And when my knees hurt a lot, we took painkillers for the last couple of kilometers.
скриншот с фитнес браслета
This is a screenshot from my fitness app on the second day. Activity time does not include rest and breaks. As a result, we were on the road for more than 12 hours. How often do you walk 52,000 steps in the mountains?

Pico Duarte: park rules

This is not all important information. And before we talk about our climb itself, there will be a lot of interesting things.

I will not talk about the standard rules of the park (do not litter, do not listen to loud music, do not burn fires). I’ll tell you what you don’t know.

An independent hike in the park to Duarte Peak is prohibited!!!

If you want to make this exciting climb, then you need a guide and mules, otherwise you will not be allowed into the park. This is where the most difficult part begins, since there is no information on the Internet, and I had to learn everything from my own experience.

The very beginning of the climb
We have two mules in our team: one carries all the things. The second mule is in case one of us gets hurt and can’t go any further. But as long as everyone can, our guide Eduardo is riding it. He’s climbed Pico Duarte a hundred times already.
  • Although the road is well marked, tourists are not allowed here without a guide. You can find a guide directly in the park, as well as pre-book a tour simply on the Internet.
  • As for mules:
    • firstly, they carry all things and luggage: food, tents, sleeping bags, warm clothes.
    • secondly, in accordance with safety regulations, the mule takes out “fallen warriors from the battlefield.” I think after reading above how much you need to walk, you understand that not everyone is able to walk it. And it often happens that someone needs medical help. And here the mule helps.
    • The rules are as follows: the number of mules must be one more than tourists. One mule carries all things, all other mules are needed in case you refuse to continue the route further or cannot walk.

Good to know:

As I understand it, this rule is often violated. My wife and I climbed together, and our guide took only two mules with him, instead of three according to the rules. But I will say that we went all the way on our own. We whined, moaned, almost died, but we got there.
Map of the mountains of central Dominican Republic
There is a map in the park office. It shows us how high we should climb.

Peak Duarte: the cost of climbing

Let’s move on to prices. We started preparing for the ascent a couple of months in advance. And we are faced with this. We found an online tour, or rather an agency that organizes climbs to Duarte Peak. They only offer 3 day hikes as they said the 2 day ones are very dangerous. Price per person (all inclusive, I’ll talk about it later) – $ 400 per person. For two, it’s $800. For us it is very expensive.

View of the valley of Armando Bermudez Park
It’s not a pity for $ 800 for such views, but I’ll tell you anyway how to save money.

We found a guide on the Internet forums who leads tourists here. He was quick to say that he was offering a 2 day tour (that’s what we needed) and the price for the whole tour (all inclusive) was $300 per person. It has become cheaper for us, but it has not become morally easier for us.

Thankfully, we are already almost like locals in the Dominican Republic, and we were advised by a local girl who has already conquered this peak. We have been communicating with her and she told us that if we go up in pairs, the cost of the entire climb for two people is around $60-70. She also warned us about some potential pitfalls and gave us more details. Since there are some hidden issues to consider.

Armando Bermudez Park Navigation
Navigation signs are placed throughout the entire route. They include information about the current altitude, and the distance to the nearest shelter points.

The prices in the office of the Armando Bermudez National Park

If you come to the office independently, as we did, you can find a guide here and rent mules. There is even an official price list (prices are listed in dollars, as all calculations here are made in them, except for entrance tickets):

  • The cost of a guide for one day is around $10.
  • The cost of renting one mule per day is around $12. It is surprising that the work of the mule is more expensive than that of a person.
  • Entrance tickets to the park for the trail to Pico Duarte are 150 pesos per person or about $3.
  • In total, the cost of a two-day climb, if two mules are taken: guide $20 (for two days) + $48 (two mules for two days) + $6 (entrance tickets for myself and my wife) = $74.

The difference of 74$ compared to 600$, which the guide quoted us on the internet is certainly huge. But now a problem has arisen.

Ticket and journal to Armando Bermudez Park
Such tickets are given to each tourist. The price is 150 pesos. And in the corner of the table there is a journal, where all those who conquer the peak of Duarte are recorded. There are us and there will be you!
What is included in an all-inclusive tour, and what is not offered at the park office:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Food, coffee, snacks, and all products. You don’t even need to bring water.
  • Stove, gas burner, plates, spoons – and everything you need to cook and eat with.

It is important to understand:

If you are a Dominican and live in the Dominican Republic, it is likely that you have all of the items listed above. You take everything with you, go to the park office, pay 74$ and set off to climb the mountain. But if you are a tourist who has come on vacation to the Dominican Republic for two weeks, where do you have a tent, sleeping bags, and a camping stove? And there is nowhere to rent them here. La Ciénaga de Manabao is a small, isolated village. There isn’t even a store here. Therefore, this option is only suitable for local residents.

How we got out of the situation, how much we paid in total, and what I recommend doing to everyone, read on.

How to find a guide and mules independently

I will tell you about the most risky option. For those who like everything to be planned in advance, this will be uncomfortable, but the savings will be significant. We managed to do it, so you will too.

armando bermudez park
This is a sign in the village of La Ciénaga de Manabao. You drive up the hill, and after 200m is the park office. It is difficult to pass by.

You arrive at the park office the day before. You park your car and go for a walk, you can leave the park where the office is, in the village. At this stage, we realized that $74 is certainly good, but we have nothing of the tourist equipment and we need a guide with the tour “all inclusive”. You walk around the office and the village. After 5 minutes, a toothless man in his 30s approached us, who didn’t know any English, but with gestures we understood that this is exactly the person we need.

For 15-20 minutes we communicated with gestures, it was difficult, but this is what we came to with Eduardo (that was the name of our guide), and what is included in his services:

  • 2 days
  • 2 mules
  • All food included and paid by Eduardo
  • Tent and 2 sleeping bags for us
  • Entrance tickets
  • He cooks at the campsite.
  • All we have to do is just walk. Ahead of time, Eduardo ran for water for us at each campsite, cut cheese and sausage, and brought it all. Dinner was wonderful.
  • We agreed on the price – $75 per person. In total, $150 instead of $600 when ordered online.

Important:

You need to arrive in the park the day before, finding such a guide will not be difficult. But below will be information where Eduardo lives, you can go to his house, he will be happy. Agree with the guide, give him a 50% deposit. And be on the spot at 7 am the next morning and ready to start your crazy climb.


Where does Eduardo live

La Cienaga de Manabao village
In one of the photos above, there was a green sign 200m before the entrance to the national park. This sign is now on the right ahead, where the car is parked. And the road up to the park. The car is ours, on which we arrived. And the green house on the left is Eduardo’s house. His house is the first on the road before the turnoff to the park office. You can drive to the park office, there is a free parking lot. Park your car and come back here on foot, it takes about 3 minutes. If Eduardo is not leading tourists to the mountain, he is usually somewhere near the office.
Eduardo's house near Armando Bermudez's office
The house of Eduardo, where he lives with his father and mother. Eduardo is not the only guide who leads tourists to the Pico Duarte. As I understand, in the village there are about 30 people who guide tourists, including his father. This is the only work here.

Peak Duarte (Pico Duarte): the story of our climb

Did you finish your tea and cookie yet? I warned you that there’s a lot of text and it’s going to take a while to read. Now, I will tell you about our climb, our caravan, the living conditions, and our personal story. I’ll try to be brief, but I don’t know how to do that.

Preparation for the start

We decided back at home, based on advice from a local friend, that we would simply come to the park and find a guide on site with all the necessary equipment. We left the hotel in the city of Sosua at 9am and drove to the town of Jarabacoa. It took us three hours to get there and then another hour to get to the village of La Ciénaga de Manabao.

Important:

Without a rental car, you won’t be able to get here at all. Even a taxi is a bad option, you’ll understand why later. If you want to conquer Pico Duarte according to our plan, the car must be there. Our experience about renting a car in the Dominican Republic in the article by the link.
Not far from the top of Duarte Peak - it's cold
Don’t forget that it’s very cold on the top. Bring warm clothes with you.

We arrived at the park with all the stops around 2-3pm, went into the office. To give you an idea, it’s just a room with a table and a chair. Now we had to buy the entrance tickets and find a guide. We were offered a option for $74, as mentioned above, we realized it wasn’t our option and decided to walk around the village. And literally immediately met Eduardo.

Although we had a language barrier, we were able to communicate. I immediately gave Eduardo $100 out of $150. He asked for 50%, to buy food and get everything ready for the trip, but there was no small money and I gave $100. The agreement was that we would meet at the same place at 7 in the morning tomorrow. And that’s it.

Technically, on booking websites (links at the end of the article), you can book apartments in La Ciénaga de Manabao. But there is nothing here, not even a store. We foresaw this and two days earlier booked a ranch with a Jacuzzi in Jarabacoa. Read about the town itself and this cool accommodation option by following the link.

It is important to know:

In this part of the country, there are huge problems with mobile internet, it is not available here. The connection only appears in Jarabacoa. Keep this in mind. And about internet in the Dominican Republic, read this article.

Evening before a two-day climb

The distance between the town of Harabacoa and the village of La Ciénaga de Manabao is about 25 km. The road is excellent asphalt. There is no traffic at all, the road is almost empty. But it is a constant serpentine, and it takes almost an hour to drive by car. I was surprised myself. Just keep that in mind.

By 5 PM we arrived in Jarabacoa from Sosua, checked in at the ranch. Went to the store. Bought a liter of water. Although Eduardo promised all the food, but just in case, we decided to take cheese, meat and two chocolate bars.

As we now know what was ahead of us, and can share with you. But on that evening we had no idea what was waiting for us. We didn’t know when we would finish the descent from the mountain, or in what state. But we agreed with the owner of the ranch that most likely the next evening we would come back for another night.

view from the top of Pico Duarte
The views from the route that awaited us tomorrow were like this. But we still did not know about it.

Author’s advice:

You will come down from the mountain exhausted to death. The only thought will be to find a bed and lie down. You will not feel your legs, they will be worn out to nothing. So plan ahead for a nearby place to stay overnight. We finished the descent at 6pm, barely alive. It would be irrational to drive another 4 hours to the coast. That’s why we stayed at the same ranch in Jarabacoa before and after the climb.

Pic Duarte: what to bring with you

All things are done, backpacks and things are collected and packed in the car. You can go to sleep. Getting up early in the morning, as you still need to have a hearty breakfast, leave at 6 in the morning to arrive at the national park office by 7. Things I recommend taking with you:

Road to the top of the Dominican Republic
You can take more things. We go light, and the mule carries all the things. You don’t need to take 20kg, but don’t fight for every gram either.
  • Sneakers, but hiking shoes are better. We were in sneakers.
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Warm sweater and jacket. Sleeping in a tent is very cold
  • Raincoat. If it rains, there is nowhere to hide.
  • dry socks
  • plasters
  • Each one gets a bottle of water. Then on the route you can replenish water from streams.
  • First aid kit, where painkillers and something for the joints are required. You can also take ointments special for joints and muscles. And an elastic band.
  • Trekking poles will be very useful. We regret that we didn’t have them.
  • Slippers to change shoes in the base camp and rest your feet.
  • Some alcohol for the evening to drink at the base camp by the fire. The all inclusive package does not include alcohol. You need to discuss this with the guide separately.
  • A flashlight if you plan to climb at night to meet the sunrise at the top. Technically, a phone flashlight may be enough, but a full-fledged headlamp is better.
  • Well, charged phones, power banks. You will have many photos. The views are amazing.

Good to know:

All things can be put in mule bags. And on you you can carry a light backpack with water.
Crossing the ford on hiking in the Dominican Republic
These are the rivers where we collected drinking water in bottles.

Morning of the first day: hike to the base camp

Woke up at 5:30 am. We had breakfast. At 6 in the morning we left, still in the dark, and by 7 we arrived at the start of our route. And there’s no one else in the neighborhood, just us. Eduardo is not seen or heard. 7:10 – silence, we have already begun to think that we were deceived by $ 100.

We found a half-asleep watchman in the park office. After saying that we are looking for Eduardo, he showed us his house. And then our Eduardo appeared at the end of the village on a white mule.

Interesting fact:

Edward does not have a phone and never has. He doesn’t even have a watch. Both days of our ascent, he kept asking us what time it was. Overall in the Dominican Republic, 40% of the population lives near the poverty line. And tourism is the only chance to earn a living. And of course, the coronavirus has dealt a major blow to the Dominican economy.

In the end, if yesterday Edward told us that he had 10 mules, this morning, being 20 minutes late, he went around the village to find two mules for us. All this preparation took us 40 minutes and at 8 in the morning we set out on the route. Thankfully, he had prepared the food the night before. Keep in mind that punctuality is not a strong trait among the Dominicans, being an hour late is not considered late here.

We arrived at the office. As promised, Edward paid for our tickets, we were recorded in the journal of all those who conquer the Pico Duarte summit, and we were wished a safe journey.

Office in the park armando bermudez
This is what the office looks like. We are recorded in a journal and they charge for entrance tickets.

Day 1: hike to the base camp

The task for any group is to reach the base camp before dark. In the Dominican Republic, the sun rises at 7 in the morning almost all year round, so the start of the hike is always scheduled for this time. And at 7 in the evening, the sun sets.

We were energetic and happy! – This is how we began our journey. The road to Pico Duarte is generally smooth without large rocks. But the night before, for 3 days, it had been raining, and it made the road muddy. If you’re lucky, you’ll be walking on a dry, clean road. If you’re not lucky, like us, your feet will look like in the photo.

Sneakers after climbing
These are my shoes after the first 5-6 km.

Among the advantages – during our ascent, there was no rain at all, and you can always rinse your dirty sneakers, for example, when visiting the exciting attraction “27 waterfalls“.

At the beginning of the article, I wrote that the start of the hike is at an altitude of 1110m above sea level, and the base camp is at an altitude of 2450m. But the total altitude gain is 1650m. For those who can count, the numbers don’t add up.

The difficulty and inconvenience of the route is that for the first 13km, we climbed to an altitude of 2750m. This was extremely difficult. And it seemed that only 300m remained to the Pico Duarte summit. But unfortunately, the next 5km to the base camp the road descended by 300m. This extra descent is very demoralizing when you know that if you start descending now, you’ll still have to climb up again.

Armando Bermudez Park in the clouds
During the ascent, the weather changes frequently and abruptly. We are now in the clouds. Height is about 2200m.

Stops on the way to the base camp

Rest areas on the route to the summit
This is how the rest areas between the start and the base camp look like.

The route on the first day passes through several rivers and creeks where you can collect water. Also, throughout the 18km there are equipped shelters. Some have benches with tables, others are just shelters. In total, there are 7-8 such zones from the start of the route to the base camp.

Edward didn’t rush us, he always followed us on one of the mules at our pace. If we needed a rest, we would stop. Edward would get off the mule, go get water for us, feed us. After all, we bought a all-inclusive tour from him.

At the shelters, he treated us with nuts, cheese, sausage, but the most delicious were the coconut cookies that his mother baked for us on the way. It was divinely delicious.

Cookies from Eduardo's mom
These are the coconut cookies from Eduardo’s mom. Just super delicious.

Good to know:

All the rest areas are marked on the maps.me map, which I mentioned earlier. A navigator is not necessary on the route, but it helped us a lot mentally, when you can see how much further it is to the next stop or have a map of the climb.
stops on the route to the top of the Dominican Republic
One of our stops. There are probably 4 out of 7 such full-fledged ones with a roof and comfortable benches.

La Comparticion – or base camp: Pico Duarte

Approximately at 4 PM we reached the base camp, called La Comparticion. It’s a very picturesque and atmospheric place. The base camp takes up an area of about 200 by 200 meters and can accommodate a lot of tourists if desired. However, as COVID-19 is not fully defeated yet, tourism has not returned to its previous level and there are few tourists.

If you are reading this report and the coronavirus is still not defeated, here is an article about COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

The base camp consists of a series of buildings, which for the most part were closed and locked.

La comparticion Base Camp Dominican Republic
La Comparicion – Base camp. General form. Altitude 2450m.
  • Cattle barn
  • Two houses for lodging for the night, probably even with beds, but were closed. As I understand it, they are opened to those who bought a tour for $ 400 per person. But it is not exactly.
  • Accommodation for guides and tourists. Just a concrete floor and roof, no windows, no doors. Put your sleeping bag on the floor and sleep 🙂
  • Kitchen. The kitchen is huge. Places for cooking at the same time for 25 people. There are no stoves, everything is heated with firewood. All food is cooked over a fire this way.
  • And a huge gazebo with a fireplace in the center, where the whole camp gathers in the evening to rest.
Kitchen at base camp
This is the kitchen at the base camp. These are private cooking areas.

Now see what the all-inclusive package means. We came to the camp tired to death. Eduardo immediately seated us in the gazebo and told us to rest. While we were changing our shoes and recovering, he collected and chopped firewood. Made a fire. And he made us hot sweet coffee with cookies.

An hour later, another group of three Spaniards arrived with two guides. Today it was all tourists. In general, they say that 20-30 people from different countries of the world gather here. We had a great time with the guys from Spain and chatted all evening. We drank rum and laughed.

Rest area at the base camp
Here we sat with the Spaniards around the fire all evening.

Dinner at Base Camp

Our guides joined together and at 7pm they prepared dinner. From what I understand, this is normal practice, everyone contributes with ingredients based on the number of people and they prepare dinner for everyone in the camp. The country is poor, the guides are very simple, don’t expect culinary delights. They prepare the most popular dish in the Dominican Republic: rice with chicken. Do you know why? Because it is the cheapest.

Kitchen at base camp
The second part of the kitchen, where dinner was prepared for us. By the way, even though everything looks unsterile, the Dominicans are very clean when it comes to food.

Total on the table was:

  • A huge 10-liter pot of rice,
  • Stewed chicken. By the way, Dominicans cook chicken with the legs. And my wife and I love the legs since Singapore.
  • And a big bowl of salad. We call this salad “Spring salad”. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and salad leaves.

The menu is self-service. There are disposable plates and forks, you can take as much food as you want. If the chicken ran out quickly, the salad lasted a bit longer, but you could take as much rice as you want. There was definitely no shortage of food, everyone ate until they were full.

Dinner at Dominican base camp
Our dinner with my wife at the base camp. Food bloggers work! The wife took the chicken foot. We almost fought over it.

Overnight at La Compartition

The important point of our ascent, and there is something to say here.

While we were having dinner, Eduardo set up our tent and laid out sleeping bags. What do you need to know about this and what should you be prepared for?

  • In the Dominican Republic, there is no concept of a “sleeping pad.” You sleep on the ground with stones. If someone doesn’t like sleeping on a hard surface, it will be torture for them.
    • In the house there are foam mattresses that can be borrowed for 200 pesos each (4$) and placed on the ground. They help a lot. But in our night the house was closed and no one had the key.
  • And you are in the mountains at an altitude of almost 2500m above sea level. Here the temperature is 20 degrees lower than on the coast. At night it was around +5 degrees. We slept in all warm clothes and were very cold.

Keep this in mind. And be ready for it. We went to bed around 21:00. In fact, the entire camp was already asleep at this time. We slept badly, hard and cold. I only wondered when there was a getting up, which was scheduled for 4:15 in the morning. I wanted to get on the route faster to warm up.

Overnight at base camp
This is our bedroom at base camp. It’s not 5 stars, but you can survive one night. But what are the views?

Remember:

It will be cold all night until sunrise. But after sunrise, the temperature rises sharply and becomes comfortable.

Day 2 – conquering the Pico Duarte

We decided to get up even 5 minutes earlier than planned. I still didn’t want to sleep, and it was cold. While we got out of the tent, we woke up our Eduardo. While we put on our boots, we drank some water – it’s already 4:30 in the morning. Without breakfast and other morning procedures, we went on the route. You can’t do without flashlights. Only the moon and stars shine.

road to Pico Duarte height 2950m
Almost 6 am. We’ve been walking for an hour and a half. Altitude 2950, and left the camp at an altitude of 2450m. 137 meters up to the top.

When we passed the mark of 3000 meters, it began to get light. The views of the sunrise are simply amazing. And now, after 2 hours and 15 minutes, at 6:45, 15 minutes before sunrise, we reached the top. It is impossible to describe our feelings at that moment. It’s just incredibly cool.

Panorama from the top of Pico Duarte
Panorama of the summit: cross, flag and bust of Pablo Duarte. 7:15 am.

What you need to know about the Pico Duarte summit:

  • It’s very cold and windy here, at least until the sun rises.
  • At the top there is a cross, like on many peaks of the world.
  • National flag of the Dominican Republic
  • And a bust of Duarte himself, after whom the mountain is named.

If you don’t know, then know:

Juan Pablo Duarte is the national hero of the Dominican Republic, who 170 years ago raised an uprising and liberated the country from the Haitian invaders. A huge number of objects are named after him in the Dominican Republic.

While my wife and I greeted the sunrise on top of the Antilles, Eduardo concocted a small breakfast of sausage and cheese sandwiches. After a bite to eat and plenty of enjoying breakfast, we moved back.

Sunrise at Pico Duarte
Dawn on top of the Antilles: the beginning

Day 2: descent to the start of the trail

It seems like it’s a descent, but whoever walked in the mountains knows that the descent is not always easier than the ascent. And if on the first day we walked 18 km, then on this day we walked 6 km to the Pico Duarte summit, another 6 km from the summit back to the base camp and then 18 km to the national park office. Total 30km with a climb of 900-1000m, and a descent of 2300m. We ended up walking 40km that day. Screenshot was earlier.

Вид с вершины над облаками Pico Duarte
We started our descent, and the views still do not let us go.
  • You remember, 600m to the top, and then another climb will be from the base camp for 300-400 meters towards the office. Since the base camp is located in a kind of lowland.

The entire hike on the second day took us about 12 hours. To say it was difficult is an understatement. We had the opportunity to ask to ride on a mule, but how could you tell yourself that you honestly conquered Pico Duarte? We took painkillers, pain relievers, and applied some sort of radiculitis ointment. But we walked the entire way on our own. Around 5pm, we arrived at our car. We changed clothes and sat for about 10 minutes thinking about what we had accomplished.

Peak Duarte views along the way
Wife in front of the dead forest. In two days, the views and vegetation have changed many times. From lush jungle to bushes and firs. The higher the less plants and colder.

We gave Eduardo the remaining $50. He did a great job, everything was done exactly as promised. We said goodbye to him. And in an hour we reached our ranch in Jarabacoa, where we had booked one night. We just crawled to the bed and fell asleep in 6 seconds. We slept for 14 hours. That’s probably our whole story.

Travel Tips

I don’t even know what advice to give you. After reading the entire article, you received step-by-step instructions on how to conquer the highest peak of the Caribbean on your own and relatively cheaply. I marked where Eduardo lives on the map. The photo of his house was above. By the way, he lives with his father, who also leads tourists to Pico Duarte, so you can safely contact him too.

Eduardo on Pico Duarte
Remember, this is Eduardo. Great guy. For the 135th time he is at the top of the Dominican Republic.

It is important to know:

We made the ascent at the very end of February 2021. Eduardo said that nothing has changed in 10 years, and for sure nothing will change. This means that this article will be relevant for the next many years. Even if you are reading this in the distant year 2030, know that according to our plan, you can conquer this peak in the same way.
  • The $150 we paid was the price in the post-COVID era, while there were no tourists.
  • Eduardo said that the usual price for his services is $100 – $150 per person. Keep this in mind.
  • The most important thing is your desire to conquer Duarte Peak. And to organize such an ascent, as it turned out, is not at all difficult. And with this article, it’s easier than ever.
  • Remember, Pico Duarte is not very popular with most European tourists today. Many do not even know that there is such a peak. Most of all, this mountain is conquered by the Spaniards and Americans.
Wife and me on top of the Dominican Republic
For my wife and I, this is a great achievement and we did it!

In conclusion: Pico Duarte is a real three-thousander, and the conquest of this mountain is an excellent achievement in your piggy bank. Yes, the route for three days is definitely easier, but we did not have time to stretch the pleasure. If this is the best article about climbing Pico Duarte you have found, write at least in the comment “Thank you, very helpful!”, we will be pleased.

And remember: The best view comes after the hardest climb (c).


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