This week the @elevationout Instagram account is being taken over by our friends at Expedition Ayiti. The Expedition Ayiti team provides full-service treks in beautiful Haiti. Be sure to check in on our Instagram account everyday this week for some spectacular images from this company. We chatted with US Operations Coordinator, Austin Taylor, to learn more about the company and the trip opportunities they have coming up.
How did Expedition Ayiti begin?
My father, Doug Taylor, graduated from Purdue University in 1978 with a degree in Agronomy. After graduation he moved to the Central Plateau region of Haiti to work with rural farmers. He was there for two years and grew close with people in the community he lived in. Over the next 30 years, he led groups of people to Haiti for different purposes. In 2009 a man named Mike Roth accompanied myself and my father to Haiti. Mike is a pastor in St. Louis and an avid backpacker. As we were driving through the country side on our second day in the country Mike commented that Haiti would be the perfect country for backpacking due to it’s mountainous terrain and network of goat paths that wind through the countryside. We took the idea to a group of our Haitian friends and slowly started developing the idea of creating a business that would use backpacking to give visitors to Haiti an opportunity to learn about the people and culture of the island nation as well as experience it’s captivating beauty!
What types of trips do you offer?
We have two different hike routes: One of them is in northern Haiti—in a rural farming region called the Central Plateau. It is the region where our organization is based. The strength of this trip is the cultural immersion. The hike is led by an English speaking Haitian who narrates what the group is seeing and doing during the day. At night, the group is put up by Haitian families in the villages where the group overnights.
The second route is through the mountains of Southern Haiti. This hike is more for serious backpackers. The scenery is beautiful! The mountainous terrain is very challenging. Although this trip is one where participants are immersed in Haitian culture. It isn’t as much the focus as the hike through the Central Plateau. This is a newer hike.
We are in the process of building relationships on the Southern Route—the relationships aren’t as strong yet.
Here is the link to a video shot on the Central Plateau Route: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SllxXCZDQOQ&t=3s.
What time of year is the best time to travel to Haiti?
The best time of year to hike the Central Plateau is during the rainy seasons which in Haiti are May through August, and November through December. The landscape is much greener and more lush during the rainy season. The Southern Route is always in season!
What services should a Colorado hiker look for when they consider traveling to this part of the world?
If you come to backpack in Haiti with Expedition Ayiti you are completely taken care of once you hit Haitian soil. We provide all of the necessary transportation, guides, overnight accommodations, food, clean water, basic medical supplies, and anything else you might need while in country.
How experienced do you need to be to backpack with Expedition Ayiti?
There is no experience requirement to participate on one of our trips. We have had all types of people backpack with us in Haiti from the first timer who brings gear on loan from a friend to those that have backpacked extensively in other parts of the world. We have had people as young as high school as well as individuals in their 70s. The most important attributes to have are an open mind and a go with the flow attitude. Hikers will be participating in a culture very different from their own which can sometimes be a challenge.
How do we sign up?
To sign up send an email to email@example.com with dates that you would like to hike and information about your group size (we can also place individuals in already established groups). Potential hikers will then receive a registration form to fill out and send in with a trip deposit once they have made a decision to travel to Haiti with us. The minimum number of people we need for a group is three.
What other fun facts do we need to know?
Haiti is a beautiful, fascinating country that has been smeared since gaining it’s independence from France in 1804. Ayiti, the name given to the land by the native Taino and now the Haitian creole name for Haiti, means “land of mountains”. During colonial times it was one of the richest, most fertile pieces of property in the world. It is home to the only successful slave revolt and consequently the first black republic in the history of the world. It played a vital role in banishing France from the Americas thus allowing the United States to expand to it’s current size and influence. The island nation was once widely considered the most beautiful in the Caribbean- much of that beauty still remains! Come experience the physical beauty and rich culture of this misunderstood and widely undiscovered country. You will gain more than a backpacking experience!
“Expedition Ayiti created an amazing and culturally authentic experience for us on our recent hike in the Central Plateau. The scenery and terrain were breathtaking. The guides and hosts we had were exceptional. They cared deeply about showing us the best of their country and have become good friends in the process.”
“It is clear that Expedition Ayiti has put a lot of effort into creating a unique experience that most outsiders to Haiti would never have. The exposure we had to how some Haitians live, and what they are doing to move forward despite the conflicts and obstacles they face is inspiring and a contradiction to how the rest of the world reports on this nation.”
“If you are looking for a challenging adventure that allows you to form your own opinions on what you read and hear — then this is the trip for you! An open mind and a sense of humor are also helpful.” – Shalini Kasida, Boston, Massachusetts.
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