29 December 2012


Rainforest Hike

Oh my, we heard so many things about Dominica - bad and good. The best way to adjudicate upon something is always to check it out by yourself - and so we did.

Dominica is a poor country that has to rely on its own resources and the islanders have a standard of living well below those of its richer neighbors Martinique and Guadeloupe which being part of France enjoy generous subsidy. But as it says in our guide: "If Christopher Columbus came back today Dominica is the only island he would recognize." There are no fancy supermarkets or stores. It's still an unspoiled country as it is off the beaten tourist trail (except for some cruise ships that stop by) due to the lack of an international airport and luxury hotel developments. This on the other hand makes it an exciting destination for nature lovers. Dominica is famous for its lush mountainous rainforest, the many rivers and waterfalls and is home of many rare plant, animal and bird species. There are a number of National parks or reserves on the island. The Waitukubuli National Trail project (the original Carib name for Dominica is Waitukubuli) encompasses 114 miles of trail that winds from one end of Dominica to the other. Interesting from a cultural point of view is that there are still around 3'000 Caribs (the original inhabitants) living in a 15 km2 territory in the north-east that was granted to the people by the British Crown in 1903. On all the other Caribbean islands the Caribs were extinct by the European Conqueror.

Petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. We're staying in Portsmouth in the north east corner of the bay because that's where PAYS (the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security) is active. That's a group formed by the Indian River Guides and other businesses. We call them simply "boat boys" and they offer different kind of services: they run night patrols in the anchorage, maintain the moorings and dinghy docks, sell fruit, take your laundry, act as a water taxi and offer river and other tours. They really seem to work together as once we'd appointed Martin from "Providence" to be our guide we never got bothered by any other boat boy.

Martin "Providence"

We went on a hike with Martin on Dec 24 and what he described as an easy walk in the rainforest turned out to belong to the "difficult" trails according to the Waitukubuli website... Totally exhausted and gasping for air we had already reached the peak of the nearby mountain by 8am. We needed some time to recover before we could enjoy the beautiful view over the bay!

Portsmouth in the background

Another attraction that is not to be missed is the Indian River Tour - and it really is out of this world! For one to two hours you're riding on a row boat through the mangroves in total silence. We went in the early morning just when the sun was rising and the wild life waking up - it was magical and well worth to get up at 6am!

Indian River
We're going to stay in Dominica at least for another week. There is still so much to explore be it on land or in the water as there is a marine park nearby where we want to do some snorkeling. I wish we had an underwater camera...

From paradise with love

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