Eco-Adventures in Guadeloupe
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Shaped like the wings of a butterfly, covered in greenery and brimming with diverse species of flora and fauna, the islands of Guadeloupe exemplify natural perfection in every respect. For intrepid travelers, that means a visit to Guadeloupe can be so much more than just time spent on the beach. Whatever your idea of good green fun is, chances are Guadeloupe’s got it.
There’s no better place to hike than the islands of Guadeloupe, where volcanoes, rainforests, and waterfalls mark your trail. La Soufrière, the highest peak in the Lesser Antilles, is an active volcano on Basse-Terre popular with adventurous visitors. Though the volcano is active and the air smells of sulfur (“La Soufrière” actually means “the sulfur mine”), it’s perfectly safe to hike – a modern observatory monitors the volcano’s activity to make sure hikers aren’t in danger. At the top, craters and rock formations lend the landscape an other-worldly air, and hikers are rewarded for their effort with views of the Caribbean, the nearby les Saintes islands, and the island of Basse-Terre below.
Nature lovers will find reasons to return again and again to the Parc National de Guadeloupe, stretching over the mountainous island of Basse-Terre (also known as the “Emerald Isle”). Its lush green landscape covers nearly 43,000 acres of rainforest, the famous trio of waterfalls known as the Chutes du Carbet, and more than 9,000 acres of protected coral reefs, marshlands, and mangrove swamps. The park is home to over 300 species of trees, 270 types of ferns, and 100 varieties of orchids, not to mention 38 species of birds, 17 species of mammals, and the endemic black woodpecker. After a long hike through the tropical heat, take break to refresh yourself with a dip in a natural pool under a waterfall.
Across the archipelago, mountain-biking trails will take you everywhere from the tropical rainforest to the sugar-cane fields that produce some of the world’s finest rums. Explore the island of Grande-Terre on cycling routes from Sainte-Anne to Saint-François, or traverse the islands of Marie-Galante or La Désirade. If that’s not quite your speed, take the reins on a horseback ride along the coastline or into an undiscovered corner of the forest.
Canyoneering enthusiasts will find a natural playground on Basse-Terre, where rivers, waterfalls, and hiking trails comprise an ideal terrain. Anyone looking for an even more extreme way to experience the sight of the islands’ landscapes can sail through the forest canopy on a zip-line, hover overhead in a helicopter, go river rafting through the rainforest, or rumble through banana orchards and sugar-cane fields on an all-terrain vehicle.