Dominica (part 1)

Our sail to Roseau in Dominica from Martinique was a fast one, and we managed to get Ed to customs before it closed that afternoon, leaving us in good shape for a full day’s walking the next day.

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SW Dominica

We had heard great things about Dominica’s beautiful landscape and good trails so had decided to try the “hike” (everyone seems to call walking “hiking” around here; presumaby to make it sound cooler or more adventurous or something) to “the boiling lake” which sounded interesting. We were up at 6 and and looking for the bus to Laudat (where the trail to the boiling lake began) by 7.30. Unfortunately it transpired that the bus to Laudat didn’t go until 9 so we ended up getting a bus half way and walking uphill for over an hour and a half, arriving in Laudat at around the same time as we would have had we waited for the bus. But we we repaid for our efforts by views out across the wooded valley; seems even walking on the roads in Dominica is rewarding.

The walk itself was stunning. Once we got to the trailhead (which seems to be the hardest thing to find when we go walking in the Caribbean), having taken a couple of detours (our map was pretty useless and we didn’t have a hiking map), it was straight into rainforest, climbing up on a well-built path through lush plants and trees in a surprising quiet, save for the calls of one or two birds.

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We climbed gently up until we reached a ridge,and descended steeply into a river valley, before climbing higher again out the other side, until we reached a levelled-off peak with incredible views down to the coast and inland, where we could see steam rising from the “valley of desolation” and the boiling lake.

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Steam from the boiling lake

From there, the trail took us down into the aforementioned valley, where plumes of sulphurous gases (which we had been smelling for most of the walk) bubbled up through streams, mud and rock to create an oddly colourful but barren landscape.

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The valley of desolation
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Hot mud bubling out the ground
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Warm water in the river

We then climbed again (there was a lot of climbing) to the boiling lake, where we ate a sandwich buffeted by the steam coming off the lake. When the steam cleared you could see down to the lake with a couple of patches of boiling water in the grey water, which was pretty cool.

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Lunch in the steam
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The boiling lake

We re-traced our steps back to Laudat, where we went for a swim up a very cool gorge. Possibly because the stream feeds a HEP plant, the flow was gentle up a 20m deep gorge that was only a few metres wide. We swam up to the first waterfall and then after being showed how by one of the guides of another group climbed up it and jumped back down. A great way to cool off after what had been nearly 7 hours of walking with the walk along the road as well. And a pretty good introduction to Dominica. We really liked Roseau too. The town was very photogenic (though annoyingly we didn’t take any photos!) with lots of brightly coloured wooden buildings and friendly people. We also stocked up on “Oh Henry!” bars in a shop which sold both bicycles and rum from the tap, which has to be the mark of a place with its priorities right). The next morning was another early one as we headed to Point a Pitre in Guadeloupe to pick up Ed’s sister Jo and her boyfriend Oli.

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