After our first encounters with the rich nature of the island, it was time for our first exploration. We drove our rental car through endless fields of banana trees up to the starting point of ‘la Route de la Traversée’, which roughly translates as the ‘Road of the crossing’. This beautiful road runs from west to east, crossing Basse Terre through the heart of the tropical rainforest, which is classified as national parc.
Most people start the trip in Versailles (yes, it is a French island) and drive the D23 all the way up to Mahaut. At the start of the road, after about a good 6 km, you will see a sign to Vernou on your left. Take that, and after about 1,7 km you have a crossroad. Turn right, on to a little road, just up untill you see the signboard of the ONF. There you will see a small walking path that leads to a beautifull waterfall: le saut de la Lézarde. The path leading down is sometimes steep and, especially after some rainfall, slippery. But it is worth your effort. The waterfall is 12 m high and falls down into a beautiful natural pool, with some overhanging rocks to complete the scenery. When we arrived, there were a few other people there but they soon left. We had to place to ourselves: the best swim we ever took! You need to count about 1,5 hours walking in total.
This last picture is hanging – enlarged – in our living room. Just as a daily reminder of our wanderlust ;-)
After a refreshing swim, it was time to get back up. We followed the road back to the Route de la Traversée and headed towards the second waterfalls: Cascade aux Ecrevisses. This waterfall is just alongside the road (about a 2 minutes walk) and therefore a lot more crowded. It didn’t bother us at all: the refreshing swim was welcome once again!
Back into the car it was, dripping wet once again… :-) The route continues to climb and a little while after the Cascades aux Ecrevisses you find a short learning path, explaining the different plants of the region at La maison de la Forêt. Taking a biologist along the route with you means he’s going to lift up all sorts of things to see what’s lurking beneath. On occassion, that might prove to be a big landcrab. Which- to tell you the truth, I didn’t even know existed before that day.
On to the road again! The Route de la Traversée winds up to its highest point, near Les deux Mamelles (which translates as the two breasts). Those hills mark the highest point of the Route. On the way down, you pass the Parc des Mamelles, which is a small zoo with local wildlife. We decided to take the treetop walk there and look at some animals, amongst which quite a few we would cross in the wild later on our trip.
We decided to head into town for some grocery shopping afterwards. Along the harbour we watched a pelican hunt for fish for over an hour. Life can sometimes be very simple, yet beautiful!
In the next blogpost we will take you to a slightly bigger hill on the island: the active volcano La Soufrière.