In the exceptional and luxurious context of the National Park’s tropical forest or on the seashore, Guadeloupe is filled with opportunities for family strolls or more adventurous hiking.
In the Antilles, paths are called “traces”. Historically used by the aboriginal people and later by the fleeing slaves these paths now make the joy of hikers.
Since 80% of hikers use only two paths, the main path leading to La Soufrière and the one to the second Carbet waterfalls, paths are many and offer infinite combinations in the mountain or by the cliffs.
The Basse-Terre Mountain is a valued playground for hikers, wild water and canoeing lovers. The exuberance of the tropical forest and the mysterious wild summits lost in fog will make you believe you’re Tarzan or Indiana Jones. The mountainous buttresses are the only barriers against clouds crossing the Atlantic. They gather there and often turn to rain as they approach mountains. It’s important to enquire about the weather before an expedition to the mountains. During rain season (July to November) you have to be very careful with flooding rivers swelling with mud. Outside of this period, it is still safe to bring rain clothes, dry change clothes and even a pullover or a jacket, especially if you’re going to La Soufrière where altitude and clouds bring down the temperature.
At these latitudes, humidity reaches 90%. Water is omnipresent and flows everywhere on the mountainside, in drops or in an impetuous torrent. They surprise the hiker in each meander, little waterfalls or sauts. Natural toboggans (or slides) with transparent basins make for an aquatic paradise and an appreciated and valued spot for wild water lovers but also for hikers who must walk by rivers and gorges one at a time, along the path. Here, under cathedrals of luxurious vegetation the change of scenery is guaranteed. Heat, humidity and muddy soils are all on the menu but these downsides are little compared to the richness of the landscapes seen. Over 450 m in altitude, opens the domain of tropical forest and its luxurious flora. Over 300 tree and shrub species, no less than 270 fern species and close to 100 orchid species make for the extreme diversity of this exceptional biotope. Frangipani trees, coffee shrub, vanilla lianas, heliconias and alpinias, mapous, acomats, trumpet-trees, bombax, white gum-trees, etc., a disconcerting tingling and abundance of canopy soil dotted with many kinds of epiphytes plants like ananas-bois, philodendron giganteum and majestic orchid flowers. Classified by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve, Guadeloupe’s forest is the largest primary forest of the Antilles.
The three falls of Carbet, the Acomat sault, the falls at Galion, the sault of Matouba or the Vauchelet waterfalls are some of the sights you might cross on your path. These falls are not the only things the Guadeloupe Natural Park has to offer with over more than 300 km of hiking paths, from La Soufrière’s buttresses to Baille-Argent or Sophaia! There’s everything for every type and length of hiking. Camping is prohibited on the Park’s ground and there are no rest houses. The presence of a mountain guide is advised if you step off the trails. The tourism office or the National Park authorities are there to hand out information to the public as well as adapted itineraries.
Pass this word out: in Guadeloupe, you’re not condemned to stay stupid. There’s a magical and luxurious universe open and available to one and all to fill in the exciting sensations of new world adventurers and mix sport and discoveries.