La Soufrière Volcano: A Journey To The Top
I've grown quite fond of hiking and we tend to look forward to the new challenge which awaits us whenever we embark on a new hike in a new country. But, the 'La Soufrière Volcano' hike was particularly interesting...
On the initial day of our hike, I simply opened my 'Google Maps' app and typed in our desired destination and set off on our journey. 2 hours later, we arrived to find that we were on the wrong side of the volcano. You see, Google Maps had directed us to the Leeward Trail (from the village of Richmond), the harder trail, the trail that would take about 3 hours to hike (3 hours up and 3 hours down)...
So, Google Maps had failed us but nonetheless, after the local folk managed to stop laughing long enough to give us some directions, we set off on our adventure.
Within an hour we returned. You see, the Leeward Trail wasn’t well maintained, it was overgrown with grass and the signs weren’t really helpful. Not to mention the most integral fact that, if we were to start hiking at 1 pm (on a 6 hour long trail), when would we return?! So we made the decision to abort the mission because we really didn’t want to get lost by ourselves...
in the middle of nowhere...
on a volcano.
But it wasn’t all bad as we managed to visit the movie set of the original Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Dark View Falls on our way back to our Airbnb. On returning to our Airbnb, our host was quite shocked that we went to the Leeward Side side of the island. But, on that night, he gave us some pretty good advice and the next day we set off again on another adventure!
On the second day of our "volcano adventure", we left our Airbnb by 5:30 am (as suggested by our Airbnb host), which meant that we were able to catch the sunrise on our way to the volcano and it also meant that the journey through the Windward Side [from Rabacca] was shorter. It also meant that we had a early start time which definitely had its benefits – early morning hikes equal a cool and enjoyable hike.
As the trail from the Windward side was more popular, it had clear paths to the top and we didn’t have much trouble navigating until we got to the very top and the environment clearly changed. When you are getting closer to the very top of the volcano, the trees get shorter, the sound of the birds chirping disappear and now you’re surrounded by clouds and the mud that was once under your feet is now replaced by gravel and rocks.
It’s an amazing feeling, very surreal and can be very daunting but the challenge is simply exhilarating and the breathtaking views are certainly worth the journey.
If you’re thinking about embarking on this journey, here are some tips that we think you’ll find useful:
Go first thing in the morning if you can which gives you a chance of having the entire volcano to yourselves
Wear layered clothing if you go in the morning as it can get quite chilly at the very top.
Bring plenty of water
Bring snacks for the boost of energy
Bring insect repellent – around the river, the mosquitos are certainly active and vicious.
A walking stick can be useful for the muddy bits but not mandatory
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