Haiti Hiking: Kenscoff (Furcy) to Perado (Jacmel)

Sunrise in Kenscoff
I highly recommend the 25-mile hike we recently completed on our trip to Haiti a few weeks ago. There are other places on the internet to get fairly accurate information about the hike (here and here), so I'll spare you the nitty gritty. We were lucky to get a ride from the NPH home in Kenscoff to the "trailhead" - the area on the road to Furcy where it becomes completely impassible for a truck - that cut off a mile or two from our first day. Our total for day one was about 9 miles in 5 hours.

Terraced hillsides and mist everywhere

Some areas had remnants of a paved road
The first day was challenging but doable for Pacific Northwest hikers- it took us about 5 hours of hiking with only a short 15-20 minute break to reach Kay Winnie in the middle of the La Visite National Park. It was Friday, market day, so we dodged lots of mules and a few intrepid motorcyles that were primarily being walked up and down the bumpy road. The hike is up and down with challenging 'ups' for the first 4ish miles until a straight 2-3 mile uphill towards the park.

The entrance to the La Visite National park is pretty obvious - you reach the top of a long multi-mile uphill climb and then suddenly it's flat with lots of pine trees.

Near the park entrance

Kay Winnie, AKA Auberge La Visite, was about an hour walk into the park in Seguin- when you arrive in "town," turn right and go down the hill after a sign from Taiwan. Despite having a general idea of where it was, we needed help from locals to find Kay Winnie right as the rains started. It's not a cheap place to stay ($80/person) but they provide three meals with a multi-course delicious lunch the first day, warm blankets and comfy beds, hot mint tea, a few hours of electricity via the generator in the evening, and boiled hot water to make the chilly shower more bearable. And Prestige, of course.

Kay Winnie

The sun finally came out after our afternoon nap.

For our group of four, it was worth $320 not to have to cart tents and sleeping backs from Seattle to Haiti and then up the mountain. We e-mailed ahead of time to reserve: winthropattie@gmail.com. There were no tents available in the winter and we had heard about thefts happening when guests stay in tents.

The next morning after a breakfast of spaghetti (okay, WInnie), we took off for a 16-mile descent. The first few hours were great because it was a clear day- it was like walking through the shire and still quite cool.

The road on both days is very rocky; I took hiking poles which helped immensely, but much of the hike down I could barely look up since I was constantly trying to find my footing. The last couple hours got very warm as we approached sea level. We had a full 1.5 to 2L Camel back each and needed every drop.

It is sixteen miles straight down to the river you originally see in the distance. About 5 miles into the second day, the foliage becomes more tropical again, and there are lots of switch backs and less tree cover and more heat as you get closer to the bottom. We had a truck pick us up in Perado for the 45 minute (or so) drive to Jacmel. The second day took us a solid 6 hours for 16 miles of descent.

The privilege of this hike would have been impossible without our friend Jean Francois who lives in Haiti and arranged the drop-off at the start of the hike and the pick-up in Perado. I wouldn't recommend winging either of those rides- they were lifesavers and located in areas with little available transit, although motorcycles are available on the descent (we had a couple casual offers from drivers who must have noticed the warm sweaty white people).

None of us could walk without pretty intense limps for the next 2-3 days but it was worth it to see a typically inaccessible part of Haiti and enjoy the truly beautiful scenery. Our favorite part may have been navigating the market foot traffic on the first day. Nothing like chasing a mule laden with onions up a mountain in Haiti.


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