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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

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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