Posted by: Alex MacGregor | June 28, 2012

Citadelle Laferrière, Haiti, Travel Info

(This is an informational post. For those looking to read about adventures and stuff, you can skip on to the next post.)

Researching our trip to the Citadelle,we noticed there was a ton of misinformation about how the whole thing works on the internet, especially regarding the costs of seeing the Citadelle. Since most of the traffic on this blog is people searching for information the various places we have gone, we’ll go ahead and provide a complete post about how to do the Citadelle on public transport. All info as of late June 2012.

First, to get a tap-tap, just walk from the center of Cap Haitien towards the bridge and the Texaco Station. Cross the bridge and they leave from the Texaco station, if one hasn’t already flagged you down. Everybody will assume you want to go to Milot. It should cost roughly a dollar.

Once you get to Milot, you’ll be assaulted by guides, guys with horses, motorcycles, crafts–everything.

First thing is a guide. Just pick one that is certified and speaks English, and get him to agree on a price. If he won’t tell you a price, tell him to get lost and talk to another guide. Ours wouldn’t tell us a price, and then after the trip I gave him 1,000 Gds, and he claims he said $30 US. I told him if he could find change for another 1,000 Gds bill he was free to have 200 of it, and he couldn’t find change.

Speaking of currency, BRING US DOLLARS. NOT GOURDES. Everyone seems to hate Gourdes (a recurring theme in Haiti for tourism businesses). You’ll be converting everything at poor rates. And bring small US bills. Even singles would be usable.

Next the entry fee. This is $5 flat rate, or 200 Gds. The Lonely Planet says it is a rather outrageous $25 US per person! The guys at the gate will ask for more than $5. Tell them it’s just $5. Or better yet hand them exact change in US bills. If you have a guide by now, he should definitely have let you know this; if not, ditch him.

Next, the transport. Horses cost $15 each. Not $50 as the Lonely Planet guidebook ridiculously suggests. I have read that if you drive all the way to the top and get a horse in the little parking lot, they are $10. I can’t confirm this.

And yeah, there are horses everywhere. Don’t worry about walking halfway and getting tired or stranded. There will be horses–no doubt about that.

Of course, you’ll have to tip the horse guys. You don’t have control over exactly how many horse guys come with you. Expect $5 or more each. You’ll probably get a sob story if you just try to give them $5. You also need to buy a $1 soft drink for each of them at the top. It’s all a bit awkward–they make you very publicly pay a guy halfway up for the horses, and they tell you it’s “for the bank in Cap Haitien”, not for them. He’ll give you a ticket and everything. We had three horse guys for our two horses.

Motorcycles are $10 each, from what we heard. I don’t know the tricks they pull, if any. They can’t take you up the last part; if you’re not in shape you might have trouble with it. The Creole word for “slow” sounds something along the lines of DEUCE-ma–surely this will come in handy as you round hairpin turns on the side of a mountain.

Your guide does NOT need a horse, contrary to what the LP guidebook says. We rode horses, and it was never even suggested that we buy one for our guide.

The whole thing cost us around $90 for the day: $25 on the guide. $30 on horses. $20 on horse guy tips. $10 to get in. $4 on soft drinks for the guides. A few dollars to get there and back.

Adding up costs in the LP, we were looking at over $200 for two people. That’s very far off base. I don’t know what happened to their researcher when he came through, but you can safely bring $150 for two people and have all your contingencies covered, based on what we saw recently.

Also, it’s seven KILOMETERS and not MILES. Some internet sources say miles. Totally different beasts. We don’t regret taking horses since it was hot and they made the whole thing less trying, but we could do 14km in a day. 14mi is a nonstarter, on the other hand. Still, the horse guys give you hell; it’s a lot easier to just give in.

When you’re reading online, and some people say, “The hike isn’t that bad, it takes a half hour”, they might be talking about driving most of the way up and walking from there. Totally different ballgame from walking all the way from Milot, up 2,000 vertical feet and back down again.

Also, some sources seem to say it’s a difficult walk–the last part up to Citadelle. It didn’t seem hard to me. The path is reasonably well-paved, about 6′ across. A person in reasonably good health can handle just the walk up the last part, no problem. The do the whole thing from Milot, you will need to be in shape.

I’m not sure if a 2WD can make it up to the top. Possibly, but maybe not. Definitely don’t try to get a street taxi to take you up there.

Post any questions you might have below, but I hope I got everything to make this more accessible!

Happy travels!


  1. Did you use a travel agency? If so which one? Did you travel directly to Cap Haitien or Port-au-Prince first?

    • We went from Santiago to Cap Haitien, stayed there, and took a day trip to the Citadelle. No travel agency.

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