Forêt de Pins
The Forêt de Pins is located in the south-east corner of Haiti, on the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range which becomes the Bahoruco mountain range in the Dominican Republic.
The forest contains several huts managed by the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR) which can be stayed in through prior arrangement.
The forest also contains Haiti's highest mountain, Pic La Selle at 2,674m or 8773 feet. It offers spectacular views over the dramatic landscape of Hispaniola and can be easily climbed in a weekend from Port-au-Prince.
Pic la Selle
The Open street map location is here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/node/615496459
Suggested itinerary for climbing Pic la Selle
The following itinerary takes less than 48 hours from Port-au-Prince and back, leaving for example on a Friday afternoon and returning on Sunday morning. All walking is done in one day (the Saturday if done on a weekend).
You will need a good 4x4 as the roads are in poor condition in many places. Vehicles can be rented in Port-au-Prince (e.g. a Nissan Patrol seating up to 8 people with full collision insurance for two days costs around US$350). Having an experienced driver with you will make the trip easier if you're not used to driving on poor quality roads; car hire companies can provide drivers.
The administrator of the health centre in the village of Gros Cheval, Mr Corriolan, should be called at least a few days in advance on +509 3683 4513 to help you arrange your trip. He can provide basic accommodation (beds and bedding for around 500 gourdes per person) and meals (around 400 gourdes per person) in the health centre, and guides. It is necessary to take two guides and prices are negotiated on arrival (expect to pay around $15- $25 per person in your group).
Port-au-Prince to Gros Cheval
This journey takes around 4 hours including Friday afternoon traffic. Leave Port-au-Prince via Croix des Bouquets and go east on Route Nationale 8 towards the Malpasse/Jimani border crossing. Turn off to the right just after Fonds Parisien. The road is unpaved and quality is poor in places but has breathtaking views, mostly over the Dominican Republic. At one point the road goes along a dry river bed which may flood during periods of heavy rain, making the route impassable. However after one day of rain there was no water in the river bed, in one group's experience.
Follow the road to Forêt des Pins, a small mountain market town surrounded by a beautiful pine tree forest. There will be a right turn in the marketplace which leads to Gros Cheval. You may need to ask locals in order to identify it.
After this point the road forks at various points with no signage and it is recommended to call Mr Corriolan for directions or hire one of the many moto-taxi drivers in the Forêt des Pins marketplace to drive ahead of you. When you reach the Gros Cheval marketplace, continue on the main road until you see the green and white building of the health centre on your left, or call Mr Corriolan to find you in the Gros Cheval marketplace and guide you. An evening meal can be provided on arrival if arranged in advance.
Leaving at around 5am with pre-arranged guides, drive for an hour up the valley before parking your vehicle and starting to walk. The route goes through some agricultural land before you climb to a ridge, which you follow over four subsidiary peaks until you reach Pic la Selle. On the peak you will find a plastic box with a visitors notepad where you can leave your name if you wish. From the car parking point the walk takes 3-6 hours depending on the group's fitness. The descent takes a little less time. The path can be uneven with loose rocks but no hand-on-rock climbing is required. Navigation without guides would be difficult as there is often no clear path visible. On returning to Gros Cheval, another evening meal can be had if arranged in advance.