Excursión a Santiago de los Caballeros

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A scenic drive, from the coast to the interior, showcasing more of the land that Columbus described ‘as surely the fairest that human eyes have ever seen’.........

Santiago is the 2nd city of the Dominican Republic, and one of the oldest settlements made by the Spanish in the New World. It sits in the centre of the fertile Cibao valley, between the island’s 2 main mountain ranges that include Pico Duarte the Caribbean’s highest peak at 3,175 metres.

This rich soil and special topography of this massive valley gives rise to abundant agricultural production particularly of tobacco and sugar cane – the latter providing the main ingredient of the islands wonderful rums!

Once in Santiago we will visit and have a guided tour of the Aurora cigar factory, the oldest in the country, dating from 1903 where we learn all about the processes involved in high quality production, with the opportunity to watch the skilled craftsmen and women at work. There is a chance, afterwards, to shop for cigars in the factory shop.

Next, Centro León Jiménez a large modern museum and cultural centre, taking its name from the local family whose wealth is based on tobacco production. It’s a world-class gallery, with particular emphasis on Dominican art from the 20th century. There are 3 exhibition spaces, with permanent collections detailing the island’s biodiversity, the Taino Indian history and cultural diversity. Wonderfully informative about the island.

Visit to Santiago’s most recognisable and most visible landmark set on a hill to the east end of the city centre, The Monument dedicated to the Heroes of the Restoration of the Republic,  commemorates the 100th anniversary of independence from Spain. Originally built by notorious dictator Trujillo for his own glorification, it features a huge bronze angel of peace atop a massive column. A majestic sight.

Then take a drive along Calle del Sol, the main shopping street of the city, bustling, noisy, where locals go about their daily lives, with colourful local stores, stalls, vendors, local restaurants and snack bars.

For a panoramic view of the city as well as the whole Cibao Valley, and Central mountain range – we make the short drive up to Camp David at 2000 ft above sea level – for a photo stop, and to enjoy a cool drink.

A final stop on route back to the hotel, at a gift store plaza, with a particularly nice selection of local goods and handicrafts – at Maimón, a few kilometers before arriving back to Puerto Plata