The Uncharted Mountain Retreat

Mj 618_348_the uncharted mountain retreat

Located on the southern end of Haiti, the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range is an adventurer’s paradise, with uncharted hiking and mountain biking (and not a tourist in sight). But this is a country with a crumbling infrastructure that has been ravaged by hurricanes and earthquakes with troubling regularity. So when you find an inn with potable water and modern plumbing all the way up in the mountains, it’s a small miracle. And when this same place is also set in virgin forest, and serves hearty organic meals that feature ingredients grown on site,then it’s a once-in-a-lifetime find. Such is the case with Auberge La Visite.

The Auberge is located at 6,500 feet in La Visite National Park, which is about 15 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince. It also owns 50 acres within the park – all of which are open for camping and include access to the inn’s showers and toilets. You can also stay in one of two suites with solar-powered electricity, and full bathrooms. Owner Winthrop Attié is one of the co-founders of Fondation Seguin, an organization dedicated to conserving Haiti’s precious few remaining natural resources and promoting ecotourism.

Modeled after old-world B&Bs in Europe, the inn’s nightly rate includes meals that are served family style on the covered patio and made fresh from the robust vegetable garden right on the property, as well as nearby apple, peach, banana, and fig trees. Attié also plays the role of the park service and guide to guests: There are no maps in the park’s trail system through 24,000 acres of grassland and pine and broadleaf forests, but Attié directed us to the most choice spots, which include miles of flowy singletrack that overlook the jagged emerald peaks of the Chaîne de la Selle. From here, there are also views all the way to the ocean, a rushing waterfall with an adventurous hike-a-bike section, as well as a jeep road leading to a narrow trail that bridges a 20-foot-deep sinkhole dripping with stalactites. He even provides a sag wagon, which is a UTV (utility terrain vehicle) driven by his son Michel. The only challenge? For mountain biking, you’ll need to BYOB (bring your own bikes) on the plane, but it’s well worth the effort to see this rarely tracked corner of the Hispañolan wilderness in a country that’s slowly rebuilding and developing its infrastructure for sustainable tourism.

More information: $40 for camping (tent and sleeping bag included), $60 for a suite. Call +509-3851-0159 or +509-3758-4279. Auberge La Visite doesn’t have a website, but you can leave a message on its Facebook page.

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