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Haiti

For intrepid travelers intrigued by the country’s cultural offerings and natural beauty, Haiti offers an opportunity to experience an authentic culture free of commercialism.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, Haïti is shaped like a crab claw. The capital, Port-au-Prince, is located in the central region near the Gulf of Gonâve. Points of interest here include the Musée de Pantheon, which chronicles Haïti’s history; Place des Héros, the central square with government buildings and statues. Inside the Musée National is a treasure-trove of historical relics such as the suicide pistol used by King Henri Christophe in 1820. You’ll also see an anchor allegedly salvaged from Christopher Columbus’ famous Santa Maria.

For art lovers, the Museum of Haïtian Art features the nation’s famed art naïf paintings. Fine art galleries are located in Pétionville in the hills above the city, where most visitors choose to stay. This upscale district is home to international embassies, trendy restaurants, boutiques and nightclubs.

The Barbancourt Rum Distillery is another popular attraction, in operation since 1765 and based in a hillside castle. There is also Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre, where you can learn about the history of the influence of Sugar Cane in Haïti.

The northern peninsula is a destination for history buffs, as it is filled with forts and ruins to explore. The Citadelle is arguably the most impressive; its 130-foot walls crown the 3,000-foot Pic la Ferrière. Begun in 1804, construction of the fortress took nine years and involved 20,000 men. In the valley sits Sans Souci, an elegant Versailles-style palace built in 1810. The two structures are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Five additional forts overlook Cap-Haïtien’s harbor and the coastline.

Nature lovers are attracted to the southern peninsula’s high mountains and thundering waterfalls. Highlights include Bassin Bleu, a triple waterfall with deep pools, and Pic de Macaya, a 7,700-foot mountain populated by rare orchids and birds.

Étang Saumâtre, a blue saltwater lake east of Port-au-Prince, delights with more than 100 species of waterfowl. You’ll find flamingos and crocodiles too.

 

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