The Lazy, Crazy Guide to Sand Land

Best Hikes

PICO DUARTE, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Hike from steamy jungle to cool forest on this strenuous 29-mile trek to the top of the Caribbean's highest peak, Pico Duarte (10,128 feet). Traverse Parque Nacional Armando Bermúdez, which typically sees fewer than 200 tourists a year, and listen to your guide spin stories around the campfire. On the trail, look out for wild boar and the rare Hispaniola parrot. Iguana Mama's three-day trip costs $450 (809-571-0908, www.iguanamama.com).

PARQUE NACIONAL DARIÉN, PANAMA: This 1.2-million-acre UNESCO World Heritage site, stretching almost the entire length of the Colombian border, is home to 6,000-foot mountains, Emberá Indians, and 450 species of birds, like macaws and the green-naped tanager. Fly into a renovated gold mining camp (sleeps eight) at Cana, a valley in the Pirre Mountains, for day hikes. The five-mile Pirre Mountain Trail climbs 1,000 feet to a cloudforest camp; the two-day Boca de Cupe Trail is the only way out of the park by land. Ancon Expeditions offers a 14-day Darién Explorer Trek ($2,495; 011-507-269-9415, www.anconexpeditions.com).
PU'U KUKUI, MAUI, HAWAII: Each year, 5,788-foot Pu'u Kukui Mountain receives buckets of rain (about 30 feet), but few visitors (about 12). The 8,661-acre nature preserve is owned by the Maui Land and Pineapple Company, which one day a year, in August, helicopters up a dozen hikers (at $1,000 bucks a pop!) for a three-mile tour and lunch, led by the Kapalua Nature Society. The cloudforest hides 12 of Hawaii's 150 indigenous plant communities and the nearly extinct i'iwi bird. Contact Kapalua Nature Society (800-527-2582, www.ceibaadventures.com).

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