Hikers discover secrets of the jungle along smuggler's paths
The peak of a Caribbean holiday lies just under 1,500 metres: on the summits of the volcanoes. At least this holds true for the growing number of visitors to Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica, who attach equal importance to walking shoes in their luggage as they do to swim gear: they come to explore the hidden beauties of the islands’ exotic nature.
|The marked and well-maintained hiking paths in Guadeloupe and Martinique make this easy. “You can just set off on your own”, says Hervé Hulin, a hiking guide in Guadeloupe. “But you’ll benefit from guided hikes because we know the paths that are otherwise deserted, and we can tell you something about the exotic nature.
|Trasse des Contrebandiers – ‘smuggler path’– is the name of one of Guadeloupe’s most beautiful hiking trails. Along the route that once served to transport illegal goods, the jungle reveals its hidden beauties: orchids, tree ferns, hummingbirds, butterflies.“We rarely walk for more than 3 or 4 hours”, says Christian Bapin, a hiking guide in Martinique. “There is a lot of variety in the landscape despite the small distances: rain forest, dry vegetation, romantic coastlines and waterfalls." To discover all this, you don’t need to be a practised mountaineer.|
|You’ll need a bit of training, though, to climb up to one of the volcano summits: a breathtaking experience – literally!|
• Caravelle peninsula: nature reserve with dry forest, mangroves, coast; 3-6 hours.
• Porte d‘Enfer: Atlanic coast with high fountains of sea spray shooting up from the ground; 4.5 hours
• Trasse des Contre-bandiers: an old smuggler path through the jungle; 4 hours.
• La Soufrière: ascent to the active volcano crater, 1,467 m; 4.5 hours
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