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April 1997 Vol. 23, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Hiking in Dominica

from the April, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dominica is likely to be one of the hot ecotourism sites of the next decade. The island is mostly vertical, with more than 75 percent considered mountainous. The tallest mountain, Morne Diablotin, is nearly 5,000 feet high. Much of the island is rain forest; some places get more than 360 inches of rain a year. Locals say there are 365 rivers on the island -- one for every day of the year. There are enough hikes here to skip diving altogether, but the diving too good for that.

I opted to walk to Middleham Falls, a three-hour hike through small streams and dense rain forest along a beaten grass path (with occasional well-placed logs), instead of to the more touristy Trafalgar Falls. In Laudat I hired an excellent, enthusiastic local guide, Benjamin Bruney (809-448- 8575), who knew a lot about the local wildlife and plants. And the falls? Well, a rushing stream plummeting 1,000 feet into a 30-foot pool is a spectacular sight any day. I hiked back, beyond, up, and over yet another mountain to reach Papillote Retreat, where I soaked in the hot baths, changed clothes, and devoured a meal of various barbecued meats, fishes, and vegetables. I paid about $60 for our guide's four hours, and an equal amount in taxis getting to Laudat (the starting point of the falls trail) and returning from Papillote to Petit Coulibri.

Boiling Lake is a unique hike. A slippery, muddy, seven-mile trail leads through the Valley of Desolation to end up at a steam-enshrouded lake of boiling water. Take along an egg; the lake will cook it in just three minutes. Along the way, be sure to stay on the trail so you won't break through the thin crust to the lava below. It's an arduous trip that takes a guide and some endurance.

C. M.

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