Expedition to Haiti
SAUT D'EAU VOODOO PILGRIMAGE
Expedition leader Carole Devillers has lived in Haiti for two decades, speaks Creole, French and English, and has traveled extensively throughout this Caribbean island, on assignment for National Geographic, Associated Press, Reuters and U.S. newspapers.
Walk in Carole's footsteps as she goes back to the Sacred Waterfalls of Saut d'Eau and join Haitian voodooists on their purification pilgrimage, which was the subject of her National Geographic article "Of Gods and Saints" (March 1985). You will discover the true face of voodoo, and not its Hollywood version. Then end your stay relaxing in a tropical paradise in northern Haiti.
DATES: July 12-20, 2011, 9 days/8 nights
PRICE: $3,350.00 (based on single occupancy except in Ville Bonheur).
ARRIVAL: July 12, 2011 in Port-au-Prince. Please book afternoon flight from Miami (See Note 2 below). You may need to start your trip on July 11 depending on where you live.
DEPARTURE: July 20, 2011 from Port-au-Prince (afternoon flight - See Note 2).
GROUP SIZE: 2 to 6.
THIS IS A "GIVE BACK" EXPEDITION: Included in the cost is a donation of $250 for our Saut d'Eau primary school "Centre de l'Espoir"(Center of Hope). See our PATCH page.
NOTE: DEADLINE TO REGISTER: FEBRUARY 28, 2011!!!
NO MORE THAN SIX PARTICIPANTS WILL BE ACCEPTED
July 12: PORT-AU-PRINCE (1 night) (D)
You arrive at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince in the afternoon and will be met by the expedition leader and our local representative who will drive you to our hotel.
Check-in at Hotel Oloffson, a 19th century Gothic gingerbread mansion set in a lush tropical garden and mentioned under a fictional name in Graham Greene's famous 1966 novel "The Comedians".
Welcome drink and greeting of participants.
Viewing of a tape made by the National Geographic's Cable TV program "EXPLORER", a 13mn-segment "On Assignment", featuring the expedition leader photographing Saut d'Eau's pilgrimage for National Geographic.
Discussion of program over dinner on the Oloffson's terrace.
July 13: VILLE BONHEUR-SAUT D'EAU (3 nights) (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we leave for Ville Bonheur - Saut d'Eau, about a 3-hour drive through Haiti's countryside and the towns of Croix-des-Bouquets and Mirebalais.
Upon arrival, we meet our local host and settle into our rented house.
Please be aware that you will be out of your comfort zone as this is rural Haiti and our accommodations are very basic and rustic. However this is part of the adventure and your big opportunity to experience life in rural Haiti like you may never again. The proverbial Haitian hospitality makes it all worthwhile.
This is home to our school project "Centre de l'Espoir" (Center of Hope) and you will have the opportunity, should you wish, to converse with the school director and see this rural school (story on our PATCH page).
July 14 - 15: VILLE BONHEUR-SAUT D'EAU
The next two days will be spent exploring the area, walking to the sacred waterfalls of Saut d'Eau, talking to local folks, and following pilgrims as they implore the spirits they worship for better life and mercy, with lighted candles. July 15th is the most important day, when thousands of Haitian pilgrims from all walks of life and from the whole diaspora make the trip to the sacred waterfalls.
Possibility of witnessing a night voodoo ceremony by a local houngan (voodoo priest) if one takes place during that time. However we don't arrange such ceremonies and we have to be invited (therefore we can't offer a guarantee that you'll see one). We'll see what is scheduled when we are there (donation not included).
July 16: PORT-AU-PRINCE (1 night) (B,L,D)
Today is the official celebration of the Virgin Mary at the Catholic church in Ville Bonheur. We spend the morning near and at the church, observing the hundreds of pilgrims and faithfuls praying to their gods and saints.
After lunch we return to Port-au-Prince with private transportation.
Check-in at hotel Villa Creole in Petionville. Rest of afternoon at leisure.
July 17: CAP HAITIEN - CORMIER (3 nights) (B,L,D)
After breakfast we transfer to Port-au-Prince domestic airport for our 30 mn flight to Cap Haitien in the north of Haiti and transfer by private transportation from Cap Haitien airport to Cormier Plage hotel (30 mn away).
Check-in at the beach hotel. Rest of day at leisure to enjoy the Caribbean beach and explore surrounding areas. Now is your time to relax in comfort and enjoy this little tropical oasis, after the last few days of culture shock!
Our meals will be taken at the resort and offer choices of wonderfully prepared Creole, French, or American dishes. In the evening you can either have a quiet meal while enjoying a warm breeze and soft Caribbean music or you may choose to mingle with interesting visitors from around the world, as this place has the reputation for being the best of Northern Haiti.
July 18: CORMIER (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast we take a taxi-van (90 mn drive) for an all-day excursion to Citadelle Laferriere, built by King Henri Christophe from 1805 to 1825 shortly after Haiti proclaimed its independence from the French, to protect Haiti against an attack from Napoleon's army (which never happened). It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palace of Sans Souci and the Citadel serve as universal symbols of liberty, being the first monuments constructed by black slaves after they had gained their freedom.
Visit of the ruins of Henri Christophe's Sans-Souci Palace (destroyed by an earthquake in 1842) in Milot, at the base of the Citadel.
Lunch in a community restaurant in Milot, during which a local youth dance group will perform.
We then ascend to the Citadel on horse-back - a 30mn very easy horse ride - and visit the old fortress that has been restored by UNESCO. You can also choose to walk if you prefer, but it's a bit arduous as it's an uphill rocky path.
Return to Cormier Plage hotel in late afternoon.
July 19: CAP HAITIEN - CORMIER (B,L,D)
In the morning we go by small taxi-boat to Labadie village nearby. Our captain will purchase ingredients for a lunch of seafood while we stroll in the village. We'll then hop back in the taxi-boat and go to a nearby deserted beach to enjoy a meal of grilled fish and lobster and conch stew prepared on the spot by our captain. Return to Cormier after lunch.
Afternoon at leisure to enjoy Cormier's Caribbean beach.
July 20: PORT-AU-PRINCE (Departure)(B)
After an early breakfast we check-out and transfer to Cap Haitien domestic airport for our flight back to Port-au-Prince.
Transfer from domestic to international airport for your departure flight to the US.
NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change slightly according to weather and local conditions and flexibility on the participants' part is greatly encouraged and appreciated.
Expedition Cost: $3,350
If you are two persons booking together and sharing a double room, the cost is $3,200 per person.
Reservations: A $1,000 deposit per person is required to secure a place on this expedition which can be paid via Paypal (with a 3% fee) or by certified check. The balance is due 90 days prior to beginning of expedition (April 10, 2011).
Group Size: minimum 2, maximum 6.
Under 4 sign-ups, a small-group supplement of $350 p.p. will be requested.
Expedition Cost includes:
Hotels accommodations; rented house accommodations in Ville-Bonheur; round-trip chauffeured transportation to Ville Bonheur/Saut d'Eau; all transfers to/from airports; round-trip flights between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien; all meals; entrance fees at Sans-Souci and Citadelle; horses and horses' assistants at Citadelle; boat trip in Cormier; services of chauffeur, helper/cook, guides and expedition leader.
Cost does NOT include:
Taxis or public transportation taken on your own (strongly discouraged, particularly in Port-au-Prince); meal beverages (unless mentioned in itinerary); meals taken on your own (no refund given on meals included in itinerary and not taken); items of personal nature and incidentals; phone calls; luggage porters; entrance fees not mentioned above; tips and gratuities.
NOTE 1: VISAS: Americans and Canadians do not need a visa to enter Haiti, however a valid passport is mandatory.
There are no mandatory immunizations required, but it is recommended that travelers take malaria-preventive medication.
We require that you purchase a travel/medical/repatriation insurance and policy number will be requested with balance of payment. Carole Devillers Photography cannot be held responsible for any costs over and above the expedition cost which might result from accidents or emergencies requiring exceptional transport/assistance.
Haiti is a volatile country and for this reason our time in Port-au-Prince will be limited. The countryside in Saut d'Eau is peaceful and the people very hospitable, as is Cormier-Plage.
NOTE 2: FLIGHTS: Please book the following flights from and to Miami:
July 12 - AA803 MIA/PAP 2:05pm/3:10pm, so that everyone arrives at same time (last flight of the day).
July 20 - AA822 PAP/MIA 12:25pm/3:35pm or later but no earlier (to connect with our domestic flight from Cap Haitien arriving by 9:30am at domestic airport).
If you fly from/to JFK, please make a stop in Miami to catch AA803. You can return direct to JFK with a later flight on 7/20.
NOTE 3: ACCOMMODATIONS: Accommodations in Saut d'Eau will be in a rented traditional-style clean empty house, camping style. Individual dome tents will also be available. Bring your own inflatable mattress and sheets. It will be warm enough not to need a blanket. You may want to bring an inflatable pillow.
Accommodations in Port-au-Prince and Cormier are air-conditioned rooms based on single occupancy with attached cold and hot water bathroom.
NOTE 4: TRAVEL WARNINGS: Please avail yourself of the US Department travel warnings. We find them very alarmist and have never had any problems ourselves and feel confident about bringing people to Haiti, particularly to the countryside. However we want participants to be aware of the potential risks.
For complete details, see our General Information page.
To register for this extension go to the Registration page.