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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Dominica’s Boiling Lake was recently named as of Lonely Planet’s 10 Great Caribbean secrets. One of the many hidden experiences that deliver unbeatable trips in the region.

The Caribbean is not all just yachts and cruise ports (or souvenir hassle).

Dominica’s Boiling Lake is one of the Caribbean’s best destinations for rugged adventures, mountainous Dominica sports an incredible hike.

It is a tough six-mile path clinging to narrow ridges of the “Valley of Desolation.” The destination? Boiling Lake, a 207-foot-wide lake that is veiled in steam, with bubbly burps on its greyish surface. The valley is the remnants of an 1880 volcanic eruption. Expect to get dirty.

Want to Learn more about Dominica’s Boiling Lake? Watch the video below.

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Image of the boiling lake in Dominica

Dominica is one of many the Caribbean islands formed on the site of volcanic activity. Its population (mostly blacks) grows bananas and nearly one-third of the labour force works in agriculture. Dominica’s mountains, rainforests, freshwater lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and diving spots makes it an attractive Eco-tourism destination.

One of the many unique natural attractions in Dominica is the Boiling Lake, the second fumarole lake in the world (after New Zealand’s Waimangu if to speak about sizes). Though this comparison is rather relative – unfortunately for tourists the lake is used to drying from time to time, resembling a muddy pool then rather than a lake. Since 1887 there have been registered several such cases. Since then the Forestry Division and enthusiasts have been regularly monitoring the lake taking photos and trying to measure its depth and diameter at least approximately.

 Am image of valley of desolation in Dominica

Staying in the vicinity of the lake may cost you life because of sulphurous gas and steam from the empty crater. It should be noted that the temperature there is estimated at 92 ºC. Some even boil eggs in the lake as legends say. Sometimes during rains the temperature of the water goes down to 10ºC and some brave hearts dare swimming despite the fact it is strictly prohibited for the lake is unpredictable.

In its normal state (i.e. the enormous bubbling cauldron) the diameter is measured up to 200 ft (66 m) and its approximate depth exceeds 195 ft (64 m). This cauldron is surrounded by glib rock walls with the height of 60-100 ft. Sulphurous steam often conceals half the lake which has milky white surface then. When its bubbling and steaming activity is lower you can see grayish-blue waters below. The smell, it should be said, is skanky. Still many tourists from different parts of the world seeking adventures dare hiking to the Boiling Lake.

Image of breakfast river on the boiling lake in Dominica

The word “hiking” means you can reach the place only on foot. Since Dominica has become a popular place with tourists the locals offer services of hiking guides. You can find guides either in Laudat, the nearest village to the lake, or in Roseau, the capital of Dominica. Even do not keep it in your mind to go there alone. For some hotshots this trip happened to be one way. The distance between Laudat, initial stage of the trip, and the lake is about 8 miles. The two-way trail may take you 6-8 hours. You should soberly evaluate your physical abilities. If you hardly remember your last visit to the gym, you’d rather stay in the hotel.

The trail starts early in the morning. People, experienced it, advise to put on your cheapest and most comfortable clothes: shorts, sturdy sandals, hiking boots. Extra batteries for your camera, snacks, water-supply, waterproof rain gear, and some extra clothes will not be excessive. Leave all the jewelry in your hotel room.

The trail starts with Titou Gorge. There you can cool off, enjoy a soak in hot mineral spring if you are a good swimmer, of course, for you’ll have to enter the deep Gorge with few places to grip. This stage is also the muddiest one. From that point the path will lead you through the rain forest to the Breakfast River. It is the only spot where you can have a snack and provide you with clean drinking water. The run from the village to the Breakfast River is rather easy and pleasant notwithstanding the mud and sulphurous springs.

An image a natural pool on the trail to the boiling lake in Dominica

The next run from the river to the Valley of Desolation gets rather tough. First you go through the Elfin Woodlands where you can enjoy exotic plants, palms, shrubs and grasses, then you will climb, and climb, and climb along the ridge to the very top (3,168 ft) of the Morne Nicholls. At this point you may rest a bit and have a spectacular view: Morne Micotrin, Roseau, the Caribbean Sea, Morne Watt, Laudat, and Cochrane. Then you’ll have to descend from the ridge to enter the Valley.

It is a volcanic valley with hot sulphur springs and vapour columns. There you can admire the Fumarole Vegetation – the only plants that can survive there – and various colours resulting from volcanic activity. From that point the path gets vague. You will have to carefully cross and re-cross the stream, climb and descend the mountains before you get to the lake. The run from the Valley up to the lake will take you about 40 minutes or more.

An image Dominica boiling lake

At this final stage of your trail it seems that you have enough strength and will to make a way back to the village. But it just seems. The only fact making you continue your trip is absence of any means of transportation. No one will get you to your hotel room but yourself before it gets dark. Finally you return to the village, get a portion of hot meal, and have a soak in the bath.

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