Pico Duarte
Pico Duarte is the highest peak in all the Caribbean islands. It lies in the Cordillera Central
Cordillera Central, Dominican Republic
The Cordillera Central is the highest mountain range in the Dominican Republic and in all of the West Indies. Connected to the Massif du Nord in Haiti, it gradually bends southwards and finishes near the town of San Cristóbal on the Caribbean coastal plains. Because of its altitude, cool...

 range, the greatest of the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

's mountain chains. The Cordillera Central extends from the plains between San Cristóbal
San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic
San Cristóbal is a municipality and the capital of the San Cristóbal province in the Dominican Republic. Within the municipality there is one municipal district : Hato Damas.-Sectors:*5 de abril*Canastica*El Pomier...

 and Baní
Baní is a capital town of the Peravia Province, Dominican Republic. It is the commercial and manufacturing center in a region producing bananas and coffee.- Overview :...

 to the northwestern peninsula of Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, where it is known as Massif du Nord. The highest elevations of the Cordillera Central are found in the Pico Duarte and Valle Nuevo massif
In geology, a massif is a section of a planet's crust that is demarcated by faults or flexures. In the movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal structure while being displaced as a whole...



The Pico Duarte was allegedly climbed for the first time in 1851 by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

 to the country, Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk
Robert Hermann Schomburgk
Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk , was a German-born explorer for Great Britain who carried out geographical, ethnological and botanical studies in South America and the West Indies, and also fulfilled diplomatic missions for Great Britain in the Dominican Republic and Thailand.-Biography:Schomburgk...

. He named the mountain Monte Tina and estimated its height at 3,140 m. In 1912, Father Miguel Fuertes dismissed Schomburgk's calculations after climbing La Rucilla and considering that it was the tallest summit of the island. A year later, the Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 botanist Erik Leonard Ekman
Erik Leonard Ekman
Erik Leonard Ekman was a Swedish botanist and explorer .- Biography :Erik Leonard Ekman was born into a low-income household with five children on October 14, 1883. Due to economic difficulties, the family moved to the central-Swedish town of Jönköping when he was eleven...

 sided with the Englishman's estimate, thinking it was closer to the truth, and called the sister summits as Pelona Grande and Pelona Chica ("Big Pelona" and "Small Pelona", respectively). During the Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina regime, the taller of the two was called Pico Trujillo, only to be renamed later, after the dictator's death, with its current name of Pico Duarte, in honor of Juan Pablo Duarte
Juan Pablo Duarte
Juan Pablo Duarte y Díez is one of the Founding Fathers of the Dominican Republic. He was a visionary and liberal thinker who along with Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella is widely considered the architect of the Dominican Republic and its independence from Haitian rule in 1844...

, one of the Dominican Republic's founding fathers. An east-facing bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

Bust (sculpture)
A bust is a sculpted or cast representation of the upper part of the human figure, depicting a person's head and neck, as well as a variable portion of the chest and shoulders. The piece is normally supported by a plinth. These forms recreate the likeness of an individual...

 of Duarte atop a stone pedestal sits today at the very summit, next to a flagpole that bears the Dominican banner and a cross
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...



The mountain's elevation continued to be debatable for decades, up until the mid-1990s, when it was still held to be 3,175 meters high. In 2003 it was measured by a researcher using GPS technology and it was found to be 3,098 meters. The official elevation as recorded by Dominican government agencies is 3,087 meters (as can be seen written on the sign in the photo), a measurement that has been confirmed by several groups of hikers using personal GPS consoles (the most recent verified one in January 2005). Despite this, SRTM data indicates that the professional survey is probably more accurate. It's only a few meters taller than La Pelona, its twin sister which stands at 3,094, and from which it is separated by a col
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

 between summits that's approximately 1.5 km wide, and is officially named Valle del Baíto, but unofficially called Valle de Lilís
Ulises Heureaux
Ulises Heureaux Lebert was president of the Dominican Republic from 1 September 1882 to 1 September 1883, from 6 January to 27 February 1887 and again from 30 April 1889 until his assassination, maintaining power between his terms.-Early life:Heureaux, affectionately known as Lilís, was born in...

. The col's mean elevation is of 2,950 meters.


The area has a climate that very few would associate as typical of a Caribbean island, with cool temperatures all year round, going several degrees below freezing during winter nights.

The mountain and the surrounding landscape are covered in pino de cuaba (Pinus occidentalis
Hispaniolan Pine
The Hispaniolan Pine is a pine endemic to the island of Hispaniola, where it is the predominant species in the Hispaniolan pine forests of Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

) forests
Hispaniolan pine forests
The Hispaniolan pine forests are a tropical coniferous forest ecoregion found on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The ecoregion covers , or about 15% of the island...

. The pines frequently host the epiphyte
An epiphyte is a plant that grows upon another plant non-parasitically or sometimes upon some other object , derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it, and is found in the temperate zone and in the...

s guajaca (Tillandsia
Tillandsia is a genus of around 540 species in the Bromeliad family , found in the forests, mountains, and deserts, of Central and South America, and Mexico and the southern United States in North America....

spp.) and the parasitic
Parasitic plant
A parasitic plant is one that derives some or all of its sustenance from another plant. About 4,100 species in approximately 19 families of flowering plants are known. Parasitic plants have a modified root, the haustorium, that penetrates the host plant and connects to the xylem, phloem, or...

  Dendropemon pycnophyllus
Loranthaceae is a family of flowering plants, which has been universally recognized by taxonomists. It consists of about 75 genera and 1,000 species of woody plants, many of them hemi-parasites, all of them except three having the mistletoe habit...

. Some areas, like the Valle de Lilís, are tree-less meadows
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Montane grasslands and shrublands is a biome defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The biome includes high altitude grasslands and shrublands around the world....

 of tussock-like pajones (Danthonia
Danthonia is a genus of grass species. Grasses of this genus are sometimes referred to as oatgrass, but that common name is not restricted to this genus.Species include:*Danthonia alpina Vest*Danthonia cachemyriana Jaub. & Spach...

). The understory
Understory is the term for the area of a forest which grows at the lowest height level below the forest canopy. Plants in the understory consist of a mixture of seedlings and saplings of canopy trees together with understory shrubs and herbs...

 is composed of shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

 such as Lyonia
Lyonia is a genus name in biology:*In animals - †Lyonia Archbold, 1983 *In plants - Lyonia ...

, Myrica
Myrica is a genus of about 35–50 species of small trees and shrubs in the family Myricaceae, order Fagales. The genus has a wide distribution, including Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America, and missing only from Australasia...

, Myrsine
Myrsine is a genus of flowering plants, the nominate genus of the family Myrsinaceae. It is found nearly worldwide, primarily in tropical and subtropical areas...

, Ilex
Ilex) is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family. The species are evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones world wide....

, Garrya
Garrya is a genus of about 18 species of flowering plants in the family Garryaceae, native to North and Central America and the Caribbean. Common names include silktassel, and tassel bush....

Garrya fadyenii
Garrya fadyenii is a species of flowering shrub known by the common name Fadyen's silktassel. It is native to the West Indies, specifically Jamaica, Hispaniola, and the former Cuban provinces of Oriente and Santa Clara...

and Baccharis
Baccharis is a genus of perennials and shrubs in the aster family . They are commonly known as baccharises but sometimes referred to as "brooms", because many members have small thin leaves resembling the true brooms. They are not at all related to these however, but belong to an entirely...

. The composition of the vegetation is due to very acidic
Soil pH
The soil pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity in soils. pH is defined as the negative logarithm of the activity of hydrogen ions in solution. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic. Soil pH is considered a master variable in soils as it...

Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...


Typical fauna seen in the area includes the Hispaniolan Palm Crow
Palm Crow
The Palm Crow is a relatively small black bird in the crow family that occurs mostly on the large Caribbean island of Hispaniola, itself divided into the two countries of Dominican Republic and Haiti. It was formerly quite frequent on Cuba but has become severely reduced in number and may be...

 (Corvus palmarum palmarum), Antillean Siskin
Antillean Siskin
The Antillean Siskin is a species of finch in the Fringillidae family. It is found in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montanes and heavily degraded former forest. This bird is a North American one...

 (Carduelis dominicensis), Rufous-throated Solitaire
Rufous-throated Solitaire
The Rufous-throated Solitaire is a species of bird placed in the Turdidae family. It is found on Dominica, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane...

 (Myadestes genibarbis), Hispaniolan Crossbill
Hispaniolan Crossbill
The Hispaniolan Crossbill is a crossbill that is endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and therefore only found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic....

 (Loxia megaplaga) (abundance directly related to pine cone crop), and Hispaniolan Trogon
Hispaniolan Trogon
The Hispaniolan Trogon is a species of bird in the Trogonidae family. It is the national bird of Haiti. It is found on the island of Hispaniola shared by Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and what is now heavily...

 (Priotelus roseigaster), while at lower elevations the Hispaniolan Amazon
Hispaniolan Amazon
The Hispaniolan Amazon or Hispaniolan Parrot is a species of parrot in the Psittacidae family. It is found on Hispaniola , and has been introduced to Puerto Rico, and the U.S...

 (Amazona ventralis), Scaly-naped Pigeon
Scaly-naped Pigeon
The Scaly-naped Pigeon , also known as the Red-necked Pigeon, is a bird belonging to the family Columbidae. The species occurs throughout the Caribbean.- Description :...

 (Patagioenas squamosa) and Golden Swallow
Golden Swallow (bird)
The Golden Swallow is a swallow. The Golden Swallow formerly bred on the island of Jamaica, but was last seen there in 1989 and is now restricted to the island of Hispaniola.-References:*...

 (Tachycineta euchrysea) can be seen. The presence of the Hispaniolan Solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and Hispaniolan Hutia
Hispaniolan Hutia
The Hispaniolan Hutia is one of several hutia species to have inhabited at some time the island of Hispaniola . The P...

 (Plagiodontia aedium) in the broadleaf forests of lower elevations can be inferred but hasn't been confirmed in many years. Wild Boars, descendants of animals introduced to the island during the colonial period, have been reported.

A wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

 in 2003 altered the landscape of a large section of the eastern side of the mountain. However, as of 2008, what was once a hillside of charred trees is now a magnificent new-growth forest. While thousands of charred trees are still standing, a large variety of indigenous grasses and small plants are now growing, creating an even more varied experience to this already diverse ecology.

Climbing Information

There is a well-maintained system of trails leading up to the summit, with trailheads at several locations (see topo map for their final stretches to the summit). The easiest access is from the town of La Ciénega, near Jarabacoa
Jarabacoa is a town and the second largest municipality in La Vega Province, Dominican Republic.- History :In 1805, during the Haitian invasion of the Cibao, survivors from the massacres of Santiago de los Caballeros and La Vega escaped to the mountains of the Cordillera Central and settled in the...

. The trail is 23.1 km (14.4 mi) to the summit, with a total elevation change of 1,977 meters, and a shelter 5 km away from the summit. Tourist-friendly travel agencies in the town of Jarabacoa can help arrange trips from this trailhead, using mules in their employ to help lug food, sleeping bags and supplies for the overnight stay in the shelter. A few fresh water springs labeled "Potable" are along the trail, but water filters or purifying
Water purification
Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, materials, and biological contaminants from contaminated water. The goal is to produce water fit for a specific purpose...

 tablets are recommended. The vast majority of hikers travel by this route.
For the more adventurous, there is another trailhead northwest of the town of San Juan de la Maguana
San Juan de la Maguana
San Juan de la Maguana is the capital city and the largest city in the province of San Juan and is the 10th largest city in the Dominican Republic.-References:...

. These four-day (three night) trips that end at the Ciénaga trailhead (or, for an extra day of hiking, back at the starting location) are run entirely by local Dominicans who cook the food you provide and help you camp along the way. Each night is spent in well maintained shelters, and due to the distance traveled, riding by mule-back is strongly encouraged. Far off the beaten path, it is highly unlikely that there will be anyone else on the trail until you merge with the trail from La Ciénaga. Although a Peace Corps volunteer has been helping to organize the trips, a strong command of Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

is recommended for anyone that attempts this route.

According to Dominican Park Service representatives in La Cienaga, while approximately 1,000 hikers visit Pico Duarte during each of the months of December and January, only about 10 to 15 people a day hike the mountain during off-season months.

External links

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