|Regrettably, Santo Domingo's crime rate is increasing.
Rancho Baiguate in the Dominican Alps at Jarabacoa offers trips to Pico Duarte as well as rafting, canyoning, paragliding and mountain biking. Most trips include a first night at the ranch, transportation to the ranger station at La Cienaga, mules, guides and camping equipment. Three trekking programs are offered. The Pico Express of 3 days and 2 nights is US$450 for one person, which drops to $270 for four or more. The slower paced Pico Relax is 3 nights and 4 days at $755 for one person, $322 for four or more. Pico Duarte with a side trip to Valle del Tetero is $930 for one, $450 for four or more. Fax 809/574-4940. www.rancho baiguate.com
For walking tours of the Colonial City, the Columbus Lighthouse and other interesting places in Santo Domingo, see www.bravo2000.com/educationalservices or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Lynne Guitar and her staff offer educational tours in English, Spanish and French.
Hiking Gear : If you plan to hike Pico Duarte, you'll need quite a few items, including warm clothing. It can drop to 18 degrees at the summit in winter and it's chilly any time of year. Examine the Pico Duarte Check List before you depart. You'll need everything on it.
Health and Safety Warnings: Avoid the tap water everywhere. Drink only bottled water. Raw vegetables and ice can also be serious problems. The local beer, El Presidente, is excellent. Malaria is present so always wear insect repellent in the wilderness. You may want to take medication if you're going to spend a few months on the island.
Until recently, the DR was one of the most crime-free and violence-free nations in Latin America. It's not that way in Santo Domingo any longer. In Santo Domingo the police sometimes stop motorists and demand money. I had one get in my car, show me his ID and his gun and demand US$100. He left empty handed, disgusted and shaking his head when the woman with me laughed at his request. Her laughter seemed to deflate his macho pride. We didn't have that much cash on us, anyway.
For More Information: Check out these websites: www.dominicana.com.do which is a good general tourism site in multiple languages.
For breaking news and more information about the DR, www.dr1.com in English is tops.