Dominica is not just for beach lovers and sun worshippers. It is also for adventurers. The Island of Nature of the Caribbean (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) offers world-class reefs for divers and snorkellers, a perfect mountain landscape for hikers of all levels, gorges that generate adrenaline and more rivers and waterfalls to explore than there are days in the year to be.
Day 1 Staying in a former fort
Arrive in Dominica and install for example at Fort Young Hotel, Dominica’s most famous hotel with 70 rooms and an ideal base for adventurers and nature lovers. The Fort Young Hotel is located in a place where in 1720 the first rough fortress in wood was built by the French. In 1761 British troops took over this fortress when they conquered the island and nine years later the construction of Fort Young, named after the first British governor of the island, began. They are the same walls that are now part of the hotel.
It lies directly on the sea, nestled against the edge of a cliff, hidden in the beauty of Dominica’s mountain landscape. The historic building harmoniously combines the charm of the past with modern comfort and spectacular views over the Caribbean Sea.
Day 2 Hiking to the boiling lake
Boiling Lake in Dominica is the second largest boiling lake in the world and will once again introduce you to the amazing and infinite powers of nature. This tough seven-hour trek in the Morne Trois Piton National Park is one of the most iconic walks on Dominica, which lets you taste the power and beauty of nature in its rawest forms. You start from the dense rainforest, then enter an open landscape, complete with streams and bubbling hot springs and further uphill in rocky terrain. Boiling Lake is a volcanic opening filled with bubbling, gray-blue water that is usually shrouded in a cloud of misty vapour because of the extremely high temperatures. The lake is about 63 meters wide and nobody knows exactly how deep it is. The edges are a mixture of clay, pumice and stone dust, which are turned over from the bottom.
Before people could ever bring water to the boil, nature did this in places where a break in the earth’s crust formed a fumarole – where volcano and water meet. The second largest of its kind in the world, the Boiling Lake, is located in the Valley of Desolation. These names seem to describe life on another planet. They perfectly reflect what you can find if you have sufficient courage. The Valley of Desolation engulfs you with a sense of timelessness and amazement about the work of the erosive and volcanic forces of nature for more than 200 million years. In this environment only some of the most hardened beings on earth live: small lizards and a few insect species.
RufusTeleStrat, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15583074
Day 3 Feeling the refreshing water of the Titou Gorge
Dominica is water, with more than 365 rivers and waterfalls. Enjoy swimming in the cool waters of the spectacular Titou Gorge. The gorge was formed thousands of years ago when volcanic lava cooled, split apart and formed a deep, water-filled canyon with a lush rainforest.
Day 4 Snorkeling in champagne bubbles or diving at Soufrière
Steep cliff walls, vivid and colourful reefs, creepy caves and passageways, cobbled sea beds, enchanting thermal openings that allow crystal clear bubbles to bubble up, and an underwater life of unrivalled beauty and diversity have made the Dominica Coast one of the world’s best dive – and snorkel destinations made.
In Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve, in the southwest coast of Dominica, lies the famous Champagne Reef. This is named after the bubbling water that springs like champagne bubbles from volcanic thermal springs on the ocean floor. It attracts diving and snorkelling enthusiasts from all over the world. The plummeting cliffs and towering volcanic formations of the reef fit perfectly with Dominica’s huge mountains and gorges.
Whether you are diving or snorkelling in these warm waters, you will encounter an explosion of colour. The reef has a paint box of sponges with names like pink azure, red rope, yellow tube and purple vase, just to name a few. Numerous crinoids – these are marine animals, also known as water lilies – attach themselves to coral and sponges and swing their delicate tubular red and yellow wands. Equally colourful and diverse is a fascinating series of underwater animals – octopus, rays, trumpet fish, parrotfish, pecker fish, batfish, loggerhead turtles, seahorses, sea snakes and eels. And you can also encounter the remains of a 17th century Spanish shipwreck.
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