Trafalgar Falls, the 2nd visit
Our experience at Trafalgar Falls on our 1st visit in 2010 and our 2nd visit in 2014 was dramatically different. We hiked for 5-10 minutes to get a view mama and papa falls but this time we had ample time to spend in the hot springs. Water shoes were a huge plus here as the rocks climbing in and out of the hot springs were quite slippery
After a photo op at Morne Bruce and a drive through the botanic gardens, our next stop on the Bumpiing tour was Titou Gorge. The water here is cold but once you get in your body adjusts. A short swim through the rock formations leads to a small waterfall, you can either get out of the water here and stand on a ledge or climb up to see another waterfall as long as you are comfortable making a jump off the ledge into the water.
Part of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" was filmed here, I don't remember the film well enough to know which scene but it has something to do with Orlando Bloom jumping into the water
Champagne Reef was the 1st stop on our tour with Bumpiing Tours, unfortunately it was also the 1st stop for about 100 other people, at least 40 of which were touring with different Bumpiing guides. We got in the water before most of the group and saw a lot of fish while waiting for everyone to figure out their gear but once we were in a group it was too many people to manage. Although the guide said that he would try to show up cool stuff, in the end we ran into a patch of jellyfish and headed back in
The name champagne reef comes from the bubbles caused by volcanic gasses that seep through the ocean floor, you can feel the temperature change in the water when you swim through the bubbles. It's not quite as dramatic as I had pictured it but it is a nice snorkeling spot.
If you don't come on a guided tour, it appears that there is a $2 fee payable to an attendant.
After I got back to the ship, I developed a couple of itchy spots, various people attribute this to sea lice and others to jellyfish but whatever the cause I applied Benadryl and ________ and the itching went away the same day,
Roseau Valley Treasures-Bumpiing Tours
On our 2nd visit to Dominica I had the opposite problem from the 1st time, there were less cruise ships in town and no one else was interested in my 1st choice of tours which visited Middleham Falls. So we opted for the Roseau Valley Treasures tour with Bumpiing Tours that visited Champagne Reef, Titou Gorge, Morne Bruce, a drive through the Botanical Gardens and Trafalgar Falls. The tour with Bumpiing was so much better than the tour with Reyno Tours. The stops were more interesting, the guide and driver were more engaged with the passengers. The tour was $50 per person, payable in cash at the end of the tour, and included the site pass to Trafalgar Falls. They provided snorkeling equipment and drinks (water, beer, banana soda). We didn't stop for lunch although one couple ordered a couple of sandwiches that we picked up en route.
We wore our swim suits, most of the tour involved getting wet so there was no reason to change clothes. I was really glad that I invested in a good pair of closed toe water sandals (Tevas) as they came in very useful. We brought towels and a snack from the ship and our own mask and snorkel.
Dominica has unique features not only in environmental terms but in social context as well. This is the only place in the East Caribbean where remnants of the original inhabitants have survived. The onslaught following the “discovery” of the islands by Columbus and his more business-minded followers or ideologically-inflexible sidekicks led to practical extermination of the locals through massacres, slave labour and deceases. Not that the rest of the Americas were spared but on the tiny islands the local populations must have been too vulnerable to be able to overcome the adversity and reproduce in sufficient numbers fast enough. In this context a visit to the Carib Territory is a must. This is an enclave along the lines of the Indian reservations in the US or Canada, where one can see people of pure native ancestry as well as a race that is a cross between African blacks and natives. This particular mixture proved to be the most troublesome from European point of view and the only more ”civilized’ solution the great powers could think of was to deport them thousands of miles away as the case of the Garifuna from St. Vincent testifies. The residents are barred from owning the land or selling it. So, with the few options left for business activity, they have opted to emphasise on the production of art in its more practical version. They mostly sell to tourists baskets woven from some wood derivative or masks made from tree bark. The prices along the road away from the official sales “camp” are ridiculously low and one can actually see the artists themselves in the houses where they live. One of the main points of interest in the area besides the shopping opportunity is the local church. It has a vast mural covering the whole front of the building depicting the arrival of the “Crusaders”. The intriguing moment is that while this is an accurate depiction of historical event, it is not immediately clear what its interpretation is. Are these foreigners supposed to be revered as messengers of God or feared as messengers of death? Or maybe there is no contradiction at all considering that the death and destruction that fell upon the infidels was well-deserved piece of justice delivered by self-righteous zealots for committing the sin of bowing to the wrong god or to no god altogether. Now that the cause and effect relationship has been clarified, you can have a church and as a concession to multiculturalism you are allowed to have the altar in the shape of a canoe.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Budget Travel
Ti Tou Gorge
Ti Tou Gorge is your initiation exercise into the Dominican wilderness. It is relatively easy on the senses but at the same time is certainly not for the fainthearted. Tucked away into the mountain crevasses on the lip of a monstrous hydro project it does not promise much at the beginning – one dark hole as it looks at first sight. Well, the first stage of this figurative journey into hell includes a cold water dip enough to bring your senses to realty. The second stage incorporates an effort to overwhelm your congenital fear of the dark and plunging into the unknown. If company is around this side effect might not be of a grave concern at all. The third trial comes in the shape of a spooky swim into the deep canyon waters with twisted rock formations hanging above barring the most of the life-giving light. At the end, the bravest of all swimmers push towards gusty falls trying not to be sucked under water in the process. The thought of escaping this ready-to-swallow-you “gorge” and the warm water shower at the entrance make exit planning set in fast. Mother Nature here has its artificial match in the face of a man-made pipe that delivers the transparent gold of Dominica to its masters. A pipe made entirely of wood just as an endless barrel constructed of wood planks fastened into position by rings. Considering the wealth of woods to pick from the technology makes perfect sense and increases its exotic appeal to the critics of harnessing the environment.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Defunct military outpost
Scott’s Head is a picturesque location in the south-west corner of Dominica. It consists of a hill on a peninsula connected to the “mainland” by an elegant stretch of a sandy bar. It must have been appreciated for while by successive visitors since it still houses some piece of military equipment to fend off the belligerent admirers and defend the friendly ones. On a sunny day one can see all the way to the island’s capital, Roseau and relish into the vivid colors of the tropical sea juxtaposed to the lush greenery of the rugged land. To make things even more intriguing, nature offers some surprises in the form of quick rain showers which are followed by dry, sunny patches causing the magical appearance of rainbows. All of this beauty compounded with the quaint little villages, their multi-colored housing and obviously exotic inhabitants turns this corner of the island into postcard glamour.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Swiming in champagne
Champagne Reef/Beach is probably the most unique natural wonder of Dominica. It is within a stone throw form the capital, Roseau and thus easily reached with the help of local transport. The location is well-cared for by some sort of wardens, there is a nominal fee for access and a change room/ restaurant outfit at the entrance. The “beach” is made of pebbles, so technically it is not a beach but its real charms are under the water. There are springs under the rocks of the sea bed which materialise in the shape of bubbles very much like the champagne ones, hence the name. The underwater environment includes some very colorful fishes going about their business amongst multi-shaped corals, dodging the bubbles and the human intruders on the way. The site is frequented by cruise ship crowds but they are miniscule in numbers (during the time of the visit that inspired this writing anyway). Probably, they were too drunk, were bogged down in the port shopping area or simply were carted off to a different “attraction”. After a certain hour, around noon, one has the place to himself. For maximum appreciation and photo brilliance sunny weather is the preferred option. This though could be tough to organize since Dominica is part of the Windward Islands group and as such it is on the path of lots of moisture coming from the equatorial regions of the planet. On contact with the high mountains of the islands it turns into rain and while divers have nothing to fear from it the overcast sky definitely clouds the underwater picture quite literally.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- National/State Park
- Adventure Travel
Carnival in the Caribbean
Carnival is a great time to be visiting Dominica. Known as "the real mas" and called Mas Domnik in Creole, an event that is sure to please all.
Click for carnival videoRelated to:
Campbell Nature Trail
An excellent off the beaten path hiking trail, above the western coast village of Mahaut, in Campbell, Dominica. A guide is a must. A good contact for this trail would be Allyne (firstname.lastname@example.org ). He is one of three police officers who in their spare time lead hikes on this trail.
Click for Campbell Nature Trail videoRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
Tia's Bamboo cottages offers rustic bamboo rooms in an incredible location.
The 3 cottages are set in a lush tropical garden with 2 hot sulfur pools bordering a fresh water stream. Each have a private terrace with a hammock and a small basic bathroom with a sink and toilet. The shower room is separate and common to all 3 rooms.
What the cottages lack in sophistication is made up by their location. It is a great base to explore the Roseau Valley, the Trafalgar Falls, and hike the many surrounding trails.
The village is famous for it's 'bubbling pots' but few visitors know the other hot water pools, springs or cascades. Tia's is the ideal place to discover them from!Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
We went to the Dominica Museum. It is on the second floor and was small but interesting, and didn't cost too much - it was $3 US each. It also allowed an opportunity to get out of the rain, and take some photos of the ship, harbor and market from the second floor.
The website says:
Housed in an old market house dating from 1810, the museum’s permanent exhibit provides a clear and interesting overview of the island’s geology, history, archaeology, economy, and culture. The displays on pre-Columbian peoples, the slave trade, and the Fighting Maroons—slaves who resisted their white slave owners and established their own communities—are particularly informative.
Photo 2 shows the pre-Columbian area, photo 3 shows a living room of a plantation owner, and photo 5 shows an ordinary person's house. Photo 4 is the septure of authority.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Circular Hike = All Around Adventure
The circular trail of Galion/Morne Crabier/Scotts Head starts on the main coastal road between the village of Soufriere and Scotts Head, for me it was full of adventure. (I have provided a picture of the trail head to make it easier to find.) A very steep trail meanders its way up from the coastline to the village of Galion. Before reaching the top I stopped once to watch two men wrangling a large tree trunk with only a pulley and levers. It looked like extremely hard work and here I was happy just to have a reason to stop and catch my breath. At the top of the hill you'll find a wonderful view down to Soufriere (picture provided). Walking through the Village of Galion, a couple of men beckoned me to stop at their rum shack. My arm did not need twisting. Continuing on out of the village I passed ruins of a 1908 estate. Still on this road, a dog followed me, barking closely at my heals, until some children told it to stop. You will come to a hairpin turn on the road. At this point go right following a trail which splits several times. I managed to get myself lost but with the help of a farmer, who smiled at my predicament, I was once again on the right track. Another steep climb with frequent short breather stops brought me to the top of Morne Crabier. After passing through and reclosing a gate you will enter a mountain top pasture land complete with cattle, chickens and crops. I met the pasture's owner by way of his dogs barking alert. We shared a chat in which he told me about his pasture once being used as a film location. He pointed out where a helicopter would land bringing with it the film crew and supplies. After sampling some milk which he had recently pasteurized in a pot, I was once again on my way. At the end of the pasture, the trail spirals down and I followed the detailed instructions provided by my Brant travel guide to see me through to the coastal road again. At this point you could turn left to explore Scotts Head or right to follow the road back to your car. I went right, but before reaching my car I met a local out for an exercise walk and wound up joining him. We walked through the Village of Soufriere to the sulphur springs and back again. Mark and I had a lot in common including that our wives were both teachers of the same grade. On reaching my vehicle for the second time we bid our farewells. It had been yet another wonderful hike in Dominica.
The Ups and Downs of Morne Diablotin
Up to this point Morne Diaboltin has remained the most physically punishing trail that I have completed in Dominica. A combination of the trail's unrelenting climb, mud, and weaving your way through Kaklen branches and roots takes its toll on your body. Glimpses of spectacular views hinted at what might of been seen on a clearer day. At the top I rested for a snack on a rock amongst hardy low lying plants and was wind whipped by moisture laden air. Even on a hot day a chill was felt. I took a picture of a circular brass marker that was secured to rock which read INTER-AMERICAN GEODETIC SURVEY DO NOT DISTURB DIABLOTIN 1953. On the trek down, my water ran out and was quickly missed. The hike to the summit (elevation 4747 ft) and back, with a rest on top, took approximately 7 hours. I stayed in the area near the trail head for a couple of hours more observing parrots and other birds that flew by. The hike had been on my "to do" list for several years and I was glad to have completed it, but the bone-weariness felt does not place this hike high on my repeat list. Clearer views from the top may have changed this opinion. If you do take this hike I would recommend carrying plenty of water and pick a time where there has not been any recent heavy rainfalls which would increase the mud conditions. Be aware that when downward backtracking the trail is far harder to see compared to the trail going up. A couple of years yearlier I set out on this trail only to find, after 45 minutes of hiking, a large mass of naturally fallen debris blocking the trail. I suspect it was a small slide. I cautiously tried to walk around it but felt the surroundings too dense to risk losing the trail and decided to turn back instead. Although not the longer hike I expected, it did give me a taste of Morne Diablotin. It might be worth considering a combination hike of Syndicate trail, Milton Falls and a partial hike up Morne Diablotin. They are all in the same area and it could be easily accomplished.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
Swim in a waterfall
Emerald Pool, worth the trip! Swim under a waterfall.
Iit's olny a short hike through a rain forest but the view is great and the water cool. Emerald Pool is on the road to Castle Bruce and Carib Territory the bus can be caught be in Roseau. Bus fare is EC$6.50 for adults and children EC$3.25 for children.
Entrance into the park is US$5.00 and is a short hike to the falls. It is rumored that if you swim in the Emerald Pool is will take 10 years off of your life.Related to:
- Family Travel
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