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Hiking Grenada’s Rainforests

Standing on top of the world at Mount Qua Qua. Photo by Rosie Burr
Standing on top of the world at Mount Qua Qua. Photo by Rosie Burr

One great reason to love Grenada, and there are many, is the number of walking and hiking opportunities that take you through nutmeg and cocoa plantations, tropical rainforest and the mountainous interior. Grenada is literally a web of paths and trails. You can walk long sandy beaches marvelling at the crystal clear water like at gorgeous Grand Anse beach. You can hike through the shaded jungle revelling in the coolness as you escape the coastal heat or you can trek through plantations and discover why Grenada is known as the ‘Island of Spice’.

While I won’t go as far as to say the paths and trails are well marked there are plenty that are not so difficult to follow. One of the best places to go hiking is the Grand Etang Rainforest which has over 35km of recreational trails. The No 6 bus from St. George’s bus terminal will take you right up to the visitors centre. Here you will find a number of vendors and guides offering their services, and if you are lucky you might get to see the Mona monkeys – especially if you bring a banana. Even on a warm day it is so much cooler in the mountains and the sky is often hazy with a layer of mist – a welcome break from the searing tropical sun. This whole area is filled with bromeliads, ferns, (including the endemic Grand Etang fern), lofty bamboos, towering mahogany and gigantic gommier trees, stunning red heliconia and wild orchids.

The Mona monkeys at Grand Etang. Photo by Rosie Burr
The Mona monkeys at Grand Etang. Photo by Rosie Burr

There are several trails in this area; from the short and easy ‘Morne La Baye Lookout’ (approx 10 minutes), which leads to a viewing platform looking out across the west coast to the ‘Shoreline Trail’ (approx 90 minutes), which follows the crater lake of the extinct volcano – though
you will not see much of the lake as the trail takes you through tropical rainforest. It can be exceptionally muddy around the small decaying bridges and especially so during rainy season.

The trail to ‘Mount Qua Qua’, starting on the road down to St. George’s, has some breathtaking views from the mountain ridge and although hilly, the path is easy to follow. Again this can be a muddy and slippery trail and proper footwear is essential. At the summit is a large boulder that you can climb, if you dare, and stand on what seems like the top of the world. Retrace your steps back to the visitor centre or take the ‘Mount Qua Qua to Concord Falls Trail’ (approx four hours), a far more challenging hike. Most of this hike down the steep west side of the island is under the tall, dark canopy of the rainforest. Even in dry season you will be wading through mud and crossing rivers following the markers tied in the trees. This is not for the faint hearted. The reward at the bottom though is worth the effort – a dip in the gorgeous Concord Falls. It’s a further two miles down the road to the bus stop back to St George’s.

Hiking the hills of the Grand Etang Forest Reserve. Photo by Rosie Burr
Hiking the hills of the Grand Etang Forest Reserve. Photo by Rosie Burr

Hiking options in Grenada are plentiful; pick any of Grenada’s spectacular waterfalls and you will find hiking opportunities. To the north of the island is the 450 acre Levera National Reserve, an important wildlife habitat that has lush, green outer islands, stunning sandy beaches where nesting turtles lay their eggs, mangrove swamps and a 45 acre lagoon you can walk around. At the southern end of the island La Sagesse Nature Centre is another wildlife area surrounded by trails and secluded beaches.

An excellent resource to find hikes and trails (anywhere in the world) is Wikiloc (www.wikiloc.com) where you can find (or upload) hiking and cycling trails and other outdoor activities. Just type in the area or island you are in or search on the world map and you will find info on all the trails anyone in your area has uploaded along with instructions on how to find and follow the trail and difficulty ratings.

The Grand Etang Visitors information centre. Photo by Rosie Burr
The Grand Etang Visitors information centre. Photo by Rosie Burr

Another option is to join one of the weekly Hash House Harrier events (www.grenadahash.com) held every Saturday afternoon at different locations around the island. Both walkers’ and runners’ trails are laid so no need to be super fit. The group are self-proclaimed drinkers with a running problem, so you can always guarantee a good party afterwards. This is a great way to get out and visit some of the more rural parts of the island that otherwise you wouldn’t get a chance to see.

Whether you are strolling around the hillside capital of St George’s with its scenic harbour and forts, walking the beaches or venturing further inland to hike the plantations and rainforest of Grenada, you will be rewarded with some of the most picturesque scenery in the Caribbean.

 

Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth on yacht Wandering Star have cruised the Caribbean and North America fulltime for nine years. Visit their blog: www.yachtwanderingstar.com

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