Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not So Laid-Back Hiking in Grenada

Whenever I travel to the Caribbean, it's not the sun-drenched beaches that I long for. Sure, I love to sit on the beach in the early morning or at sunset. But, I much prefer to spend the day exploring, and that often means heading out on one or more hiking trails.

The island of Grenada has several paths that are perfect for strolling. (Such as the trail along the shores of Grand Etang Lake, an extinct volcanic crater that's perpetually bathed in fog.)
Or the lovely Morne La Baye interpretive trail where you'll get an education on the island's distinctive flora, including the ever-present boldly-colored heliconia as well as a fern endemic to this area. And then you'll be treated to a fab viewpoint at the end.

Two other favorite areas for more leisurely walks is the La Sagesse Nature Center and Levera National Park, two good places for bird watching.
But trails for thrill seekers who want a rush of adrenalin around every corner are more the rule. Here's what I found on what's often referred to as the Spice Island, because of its nutmeg production. The island is covered with a network of paths snaking through the jungle-covered terrain, some hugging the cliffs and others scaling the 2,000-some-foot peaks. Since so many of the more advanced trails, including the treks to the Seven Sisters and Camp Fedon, are not well marked, I travel with a guide, such as Henry's Safari Tours.

• It's an easy hike to the first of three falls referred to as Concord Falls in the western part of the island. This is a perfect place to cool off in the pool and either hang out or prepare yourself for the hike to the other two.

But, after that, it can be thought of as a warm up jaunt that requires criss-crossing the wide Black Bay River and jumping onto slick, loosely placed rock piles. The trail snakes through thick brush with yellow and red heliconia flowers growing in abundance.

The rock-hopping has its payoff: Au Coin Falls with its water cascading 40 feet into a clear blue pool. The third set of falls, Fontainbleu, cascades some 60+ feet.

Another trek that's more rigorous wends to the waterfalls known as the Seven Sisters deep in Grenada's rainforest. You'll find the sweet aroma from the fields lush with bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg intoxicating. The flat track quickly gives way to a steep muddy trail along a narrow mountain ridge. Luckily the perfectly placed has roots help hikers climb this slope where you'll find several rushing waterfalls and clear cobalt blue pools -- perfect for swimming. Or, as I did, sitting on a flat rock and listening to monkeys scamper about.
• Grenada's got some heavy-duty all-day treks, including one to Camp Fedon, an outpost where Julian Fedon, a French Grenadian, led a rebellion in the late 1700s against the British. I did this hike from Concord Falls where the trail climbed steeply along the muddy slopes. Again, I made use of the well-placed vines, roots, rocks and shubs to keep my balance. But it's not all about staying upright because there's plenty of flora to appreciate, from the mahogany trees to the giant ferns and teak. All the sweating to get to the top is worth it for the panoramic views of the green rainforest and the cobalt waters in the distance.

19 comments:

Frugal Kiwi said...

Looks beautiful- much like New Zealand, but warmer and with monkeys.

Alexandra said...

How I would love to visit Grenada! Thanks for all these ideas on where to go. Hiking through such beautiful places sounds amazing.

Sheryl Kraft said...

I'd never think of anything but the beach while visiting the Caribbean - thanks for beautiful photos and some very useful information. It looks absolutely beautiful.

JTravel said...

Hi Frugal Kiwi, I love your comparison, like NZ but warmer and with monkeys. It's quite apt.

JTravel said...

Hi Alexandra, Thanks for your comments. If you decide to visit Grenada, let me know. I've got a lot of other off-the-beaten-track ideas I can pass along.

JTravel said...

Hi Sheryl, I did most of these hikes just with a guide because I was traveling with two friends who spent all their time on the beach.

MarthaandMe said...

It looks gorgeous. I think of myself as a walker, not a hiker, but maybe I need to change that thinking!

JTravel said...

Hi Martha and Me, well, there were definitely trails that were a walk though, at times, as you saw in my post, it felt like the hiking was really climbing. Tackling trails, though, is very much in the mind in terms of keeping your motivation going for the length of the journey. I see myself as a mindful hiker/walker.

Jennifer Margulis said...

Lovely hikes. Thanks for recommending them!!

Lisa said...

I love love love hikes that end at swimable waterfalls.

JTravel said...

Hi Jennifer, Glad you stopped by and enjoyed reading about these cool waterfall hikes.

JTravel said...

Hi Lisa, Yeah, it's wonderful to have a chance to cool off in a refreshing pool somewhere along a hiking path. What could be better?

kerry dexter said...

I'm always the one heading off for the hiking trails insted of the beach myself. Thanks for the good read.

JTravel said...

Hi Kerry, Great to hear from someone else who tackles the hiking alternatives that so many Caribbean islands offe.

Meredith Resnick said...

Stunning environment - looks like paradise.

ReadyMom said...

Like Sheryl, I usually think about visiting the beach, but what a different experience you've offered here. I noticed you had a guide. My family used a guide in Mexico (we didn't do any serious hiking), but it was a wonderful decision (saved us money too). The guide could direct us to places we never would have found on our own.

JTravel said...

Hi Meredith, Yes, Grenada feels like a paradise, especially when I was hiking in the rainforest.

JTravel said...

Hi ReadyMom, I agree that using a guide can really be a rewarding experience. Especially on hiking trails where, without one, I wouldn't know about the flora or other sites along the way. Plus, I most likely would've gotten lost.

floral canvas prints said...

Wow these are some brilliant ideas for the hiking!