Diego de Ocampo lies 15 km (9.3 mile) north of Santiago, and is the highest peak in the Cordillera Septentrional. The forest here is dense and the trail is narrow and very steep. Look for the suite of birds to change as you continue to climb higher. The Pico Diego de Ocampo Natural Monument is managed by the local environmental organization, the Sociedad Ecológica del Cibao or SOECI.
Reservations and guides are required to walk through the Diego de Ocampo. SOECI has a trained group of at least 25 guides who will be happy to accommodate the birdwatchers needs. Generally one starts walking at the first trail entrance; from here it is 3.5 km (2.2 miles) to the top of the mountain. The dense forest can make it difficult to see some birds, but if you walk quietly you will find birds in and along the trail, and forest openings provide other opportunities for birding. At the summit, you will have a view of the entire valley of the Cibao, and to the north you can see the Atlantic and the harbor at Puerto Plata. The descent from the summit is not the same as the ascent; generally you will descend an even steeper trail, 1.5 km (0.9 miles) to the visitor center at Manacla.
Target species include Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Scaly-naped Pigeon, Ruddy Quail- Dove, Hispaniolan Parakeet, Hispaniolan Parrot, Hispaniolan Lizard- Cuckoo, Antillean Palm- Swift, Broad- billed Tody, Black- whiskered Vireo, Rufous- throated Solitaire, Greater Antillean Bullfinch.
From Santo Domingo take the Autopista Duarte to Santiago; this will take approximately 2 hours. As you get close to the center of town and see the prominent monument at the top of the hill, look for signs for Puerto Plata and a major right-hand turn on Av. Estrella Sadhala. This road will lead you north and around the city. After going through the first traffic light, elect to take the elevated portion of the road to cross several busy streets. After passing Cerro Alto and a Texaco station, and going under a footbridge, you will reach a prominent corner with a technical school on your right and an Esso station on the far right corner. Take the right turn here for Jacagua on the Carretera Jacagua. This road continues for about 3 km (1.9 miles) in some very crowded barrio streets, and continues thru Los Cocos. After 2 km (1.2 miles) the road becomes steeper and passes thru Cuesta de Quinigua. At 4 km (2.5 miles) look for a large wooden carved sign for the “Proyecto La Loma” on your right. This marks the entrance to the walking trail. Driving on from this first trail entrance, continue on for about 10 km (6.2 miles), passing thru Pinché. About 1 km (0.6 miles) further on is the Manacla visitor center. It is down a only slightly passable lane on your left.
From Puerto Plata and the north coast, you will arrive at a large congested round about or rotunda just north of Santiago where many bus routes have their stops. Follow this rotunda around, passing the branch road to the city center, and then take the branch to Av. Estrella Sadhalá heading south. After passing a Ferreteria Ochoa, take the left turn for Jacagua on the Carretera Jacagua and follow the driving directions above.