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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Archive for April, 2011

Discover Dominica Authority and the Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association recently announced the schedule for 4th Annual Hike Fest. Part of Dominica’s Tourism Awareness Month, Hike Fest celebrates the Nature Island’s best hiking venues.

Hike Fest 2011 will highlight segments of the island’s Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT).

Dominica is the only Caribbean destination with a walking trail that extends the length of the island. The 115-mile long Waitukubuli National Trail is divided into 14 continuous segments.

The trail traverses the island, leading visitors into the heart of local communities, while passing by mountainous landscapes, through rainforests and past rivers and waterfalls.

Image from Dominica's hike fest 2010

This year’s Hike Fest includes:

May 7 (Hike 1) Waitukubuli National Trail – Segment 2:

This 5.5-hour hike will take participants from the sulphur springs at Soufriere Estate to Bellevue Chopin, a small community located at the foot of Morne Canotte and Morne Anglais. Areas of interest along Segment 2 are sulphur springs, old slave route and historic buildings.

May 14 (Hike #2) Waitukubuli National Trail – Segment 3:

This is a 5-hour hike from Bellevue Chopin to Wotten Waven, a village in Dominica’s Roseau Valley. Areas of interest along the trail include sulphur springs, rivers, farms, flower gardens, Trafalgar Falls and views of the capital city of Roseau.

May 21(Hike #3) Waitukubuli National Trail – Segment 4:

Ideal for nature lovers, the final segment for Hike Fest 2011 is a 5-hour hike that takes participants from the farmland of Wotten Waven village to the town of Pont Casse, located in central Dominica. Areas of interest along this segment include views of several mountains and many of the island’s attractions such as: Boiling Lake, sulphur springs, Freshwater Lake, Middleham Falls, Stinking Hole, Trafalgar Falls and Boeri Lake.

All hikes are moderate in difficulty. This year, Hike #1 and #3 will be divided into two levels of expertise: hikers and walkers. The entry fee is $15 USD for one hike and $40 USD for all three. The fee includes trail guide, transportation, refreshments, bandana and souvenir t-shirt.

To learn more about hiking and other adventure activities in Dominica, visit or

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My wife Ruth and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Tom “TL” and Harriet Linskey, co-founders of Hands Across the Sea.

They’d been referred to us by our dear friend of 24 years who is now Principal at the Savanne Paille Primary School and were in Calibishie to learn how they could assist our village’s Primary School.

I’m going to repeat: is a web site you should visit. The organization helps with what is most fundamental to educational achievement. It fosters children’s reading programs in a number of English-speaking Eastern Caribbean nations.

In Dominica in the past three years they have shipped over 10,000 books to fill school libraries and classroom libraries.You can check out their accomplishments at the following link:

Hand across the Sea in Dominica

Hands Across the Sea is seeking donations from Americans who’d like to help get more books into the hands of children in Dominica and also benefit from a tax deduction.

They are also looking for volunteers in the New England area who might want to help buy books at Friends of the Library book sales this summer. They sort, pack and ship from a warehouse 30 minutes south of Boston and benefit from free shipping to Dominica. Please contact the organization via its website for more details.

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It’s time to learn some more about the Syndicate Trails. Let’s begin with the Syndicate Nature Trail.

The Syndicate Nature Trail is a relatively simple route. It’s easy, because it’s well signposted and flat. It’s short, so you won’t get tired. It’s picturesque, the forest is unspoilt and full of magnificent trees. It’s perfect for beginning hikers and it’s the best destination for birdwatchers, so that most birdwatching tours of the island are offered there.

The trail loops through the forest, and it’s almost clear of spots where one could look down. However, there is one lookout point above the Dublanc River valley. You can see the forest from above, so it’s the best place to spot a jaco or a sisserou–the national bird. Not just them, the forest is full of the other life forms. Like, four species of hummingbird. And note, a typical walk is no longer than an hour, so the concentration of impressions during it may be really amazing. I recommend you to have a guide. You’ll need the site pass anyway.

The Syndicate Nature Trail is comfortable. It’s a mecca for tourists who like service and civilization, even though the number of facilities is far from enormous.

Image of a tree in Syndicate Trail RainforestTree in Syndicate Trail Rainforest – Photos by photonooner via Flickr

The Morne Diablotin Trail is a harder nut for inexperienced hikers. But for those who have some practice or just are enthusiastic, it’ll be the sheer pleasure. This trail is more difficult, reaching 5 points on difficulty scale (while the Syndicate Nature Trail has 1 point) and typically lasts about two or three hours each way. That is, five or six hours altogether.

You may want to bring some food with you, besides your usual equipment. Additionally, I strongly recommend you bring dry clothes; don’t underestimate the difficulty of the route. You may get wet and dirty. You’ll have to scramble up the mountain and make your way through the kaklen. And when you’re done, you may find yourself in a cloud driven by the strong cold wind, not on a sunlit cliff.

How does it feel to be at that trail?

Initially, you already feel you’re climbing the mountain. At first, you have to get over the lower elevations. It usually takes an hour of climbing through the rainforest. It’s exceptionally beautiful and untouched. The songs of the local birds including the sisserou and the jaco are charming. You may stop and get lucky enough to spot them as they fly above your head. Besides birds, you will see magnificent chatanier trees which have buttress roots supporting the trees, bwa mang whose prop roots hold their stems in the air, tree fern which are truly giant, straight gommier trees reaching for the sky, air plants clinging the other trees, and plenty of epiphytes.

Image of a creek at Syndicate FallsCreek at Syndicate Falls

Then, the path gets harder. You’ll have to scramble up slopes and boulders for the next half hour, the mud may cover your clothes. You’ll have no time to look around when moving, but whenever you stop, try that. You’ll find out the vegetation is different. It’s no rainforest anymore, it’s the montane forest. The trees are shorter and narrower.

One more hour and you’ll enter the elfin woodland. This is when the kaklen comes up, taking the place of the rocks. It’s more challenging. The branches may be sharp, watch them carefully as you scramble through (which is going to take one more hour). The floor is not hard enough, from time to time, you’ll have to clamber the branches. Don’t forget to test them and use your arms and hands.

Finally, you’ll get to the summit. The kaklen may obscure your views to the south and the north, the other directions are clearer. Anyway, you can try and see through it, you may even see Martinique. And here’s a reason to be proud: Dominica’s highest mountain’s peak is under your feet.

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