Between sea and mountain, Petit-Bourg is a parish with green pastures and hillocks crisscrossed by rivers, setting the pace for the visitor who discovers Basse-Terre.
Arriving from Grande Terre after crossing one of the two bridges over Salée river, you enter Petit-Bourg which has now become a residential parish due to its proximity to Jarry, the economic heart of Guadeloupe. Petit-Bourg is one of the largest parishes of the island, stretching to Goyave by the sea with Pointe à Pitre across and Petit Cul de Sac Marin on the other side. Not particularly charming, this parish is now surrounded by a highway leading directly to Capesterre and Basse-Terre. The beach at Viard is valued by windsurfers who often find very favourable conditions in this place.
Petit-Bourg is also extending inland up in the mountain at the edge of the Guadeloupe Natural Park. Many rivers crisscross the mountain’s luxurious buttresses. Hikers won’t want to miss the falls at Moreau river. From the Goyave road, head for Douville and follow the directions. After leaving the car behind, it takes about three hours to go and return and cross several rivers. The path is well indicated. It is essential as in any case when you’re hiking in Guadeloupe, to check the weather before you leave since rivers swell very quickly in times of rain. Also, do not leave to late since the night comes early under the tropics.
It’s on the green mountainside that you will find the Domaine de Valombreuse, a large floral and animal park offering over 300 flower species and a wide range of birds. On your way out, you can stop to buy tropical flowers or have them delivered for your day of departure.
Taking the road going up to Vernou, enables to reach the windy coast by the Traversée road, where nature becomes more and more exuberant. The red soil of the lower sides of the road makes for a stunning contrast with the green vegetation. High perched, the Vernou quarter benefits from a more temperate climate. Békés particularly value this location to build their homes and you’ll be surprised by the art deco style of some. The sault of La Lézarde is another landmark to see. It takes about an hour to go and return from down in the gorge until you reach the waterfalls. The path is currently reshaped but it would be wise to wear hiking shoes. Located in the heart of wild vegetation, the river “jumps” into a basin where it’s good to bathe. If the water feels cold at first, the bathing is particularly reinvigorating. Just be careful with the water movement caused by the falls.
From Vernou, the Traversée road enables you to reach the windy coast. Through the Guadeloupe Natural Park and its mountains covered with a thick forest and rivers, you’re in for a complete change of scenery. The vegetation is simply huge: philodendron giganteum, bombax, arborescent fern leaves, etc… here plants much go high to benefit from sun rays.
Crayfish waterfalls are one of the most visited since it’s easily accessible. It takes about 10 minutes of walk to reach the falls. Be careful with slippery rocks. Don’t waste time looking for crayfishes since the crowds of visitors already drove them away. Carbets offer picnic areas to have breakfast right in the middle of the forest.
The road curves in a surprising landscape until the Deux Mamelles pass at 768 m high offering an exceptional sight. Many well indicated paths go up the mountain. Then the road comes back down to the sea. You must stop by the Mamelles Zoo and Botanical Garden. It’s a unique place to discover the tropical forest’s fauna and flora, including some endangered species. Since not long ago, a path was built 15-20 meters high to give you another angle to your visit in the canopy. Your safety is assured by baldricks and guides. Pick up a glass of fresh punch or fruit juice at the bar, make a few purchases at the boutique or take a good Creole meal to close this visit that young and old will remember for a long time.