Jungle sleepover in Dominica

When we were in quarantine and talked about what we wanted to do in Dominica we started talking about sleeping in the jungle one night. We pitched the idea to Emma and Roger on Sanuti and Bram on Calypso and they were up for it as well. So every hike we went on we kept an eye open for a good potential camp spot. 

One day we walked another path of the Waitikubuli trail (think it was segment 10 or 11) to look for a good camping spot. That part of the trail hadn’t been cleared since the damaging hurricane Maria in 2017. We brought machete and tried to cut our way through masses of razor grass. Razor grass is a kind of grass that sticks onto your skin and leaves cuts. Horrible grass! After we had tried to walk through the path for a really long time we decided to head back, we were not going to find a good camping spot here anyway! But heading back was not an easy decision as we would have to walk back through the grass once more and get even more cuts!

Feeling really miserable and tired after fighting our way through the razor grass.
Cuts all over from the razor grass.
This is how razor grass looks!

The day after Thomas and Roger went on an excursion by themselves to give it another try to find a good camping spot. And the found a nice one, next to a river and quite close to Portsmouth so we wouldn’t have to walk so far to get to the spot.
The following day we met up to pick up some chickens we ordered and started to make our way to the camping spot we found.

Waiting for the chicken.
Close to our camping spot was this worn down bridge…

But we had to walk over it anyway

Once we got to our camping spot we started building our shelter, we built it only from stuff we found in the jungle, palm leafs and so on
And prepared to start a fire.
Fire almost started
We started as soon as we could with the chicken.
Camp finished, we built a roof and then slept in hammocks with mosquito nets.
We spent the evening around the fire, eating chicken and drinking rum! We watched the sun set and heard the jungle come to life as darkness came.

Sleeping one night in the jungle was a really cool experience! It was really cozy sitting by the fire during the evening and listen to all the sounds. We also saw some really cool phosphorescent lights in the ground close to the fire, quite an Avatar experience!

We woke up in the morning, made a simple breakfast and cleaned after us and headed back to our boats, just to leave them a few days later to stay in the mountains in southern Dominica for a couple of days. But more on that in next post.

 

 

Canyoning and Trafalgar falls

When we just arrived to Dominica we talked to some other cruisers that just had been on a canyoning tour, and we got really excited about that. We booked a tour with Ti Nath Canyoning and it was such a fun activity! We repelled down in the canyon, jumped in waterfall and walked through the majestic canyon! Really, really recommend this activity if ever visting Dominica!

Repelling down in the canyon.

Really cool to repell, jump, walk and swim through the canyon!

The start (and end) of the canyoning was close to Ti Tou Gorge (another filming location from the Pirates of the Caribbean 2). We didn’t swim through the gorge on that day, just had a look at it from the outside. Later on our visit in Dominica (when we also did the Boiling Lake tour) we swam through the gorge, which was really cool also. It was also very fun because you really recognized the place from the Pirates-movies.

The “entrance” into Ti Tou Gorge.

 We had lunch at place near Ti Tou Gorge, and after that we got arranged so that we could be driven to Trafalgar Falls. It is another twin fall, with the Father Fall and the Mother fall. By the Father fall there is hot springs you can sit down in as well as swimming in the colder water from the waterfall. The walk up the hot springs and the pool of the Father fall consists of some climbing on boulders. It was a bit tricky to find a possible way up, but not impossible. In many places it says that you must definitely have a guide to do this. We did it without a guide and it was no problems.

Father and Mother Fall at Trafalgar Falls. Here you can see all the boulders you have to pass in order to get up the Father Fall. 
Beautiful view down on the valley from the Father Fall.
The hot spring and cold water by the Father Fall. The orange part of the rocks are were the hot water flows. Very cool to just jump between the hot water pool and the cold water pool.

Red rocks, chocolate factory and another waterfall

In Dominica we mostly went on hikes on ourselves without any guide, but a few trips we did with a guide. One of them was the Indian River boat tour we wrote about in a previous blog post and another was a day trip by car to different locations on the island. For this trip we went with a guide called Paul and we drove through a lot of villages, he gave some history of the island and the different villages we passed by.

Our first stop on the trip was to the red rocks near Calibishe. It was a fascinating place with the red rocks just by the seaside. At one place you could go down in a canyon and walk through a pretty narrow patch through the rocks.

Red rock!
Narrow passages in the rock structure

The next stop of the day was to the chocolate factory, here we could see every step of the chocolate making, from bean to bar. We got to taste some delicious chocolate and of course we bought a couple of chocolate bars!

Cocoa beans that is fermenting.
After the fermenting they are left to dry.
And then it is roasted and after that there was a few more processes until you get the actual chocolate bar.
Different flavors

Next up was a drive and stop at the Kalinago territory. Dominica is the only island in the Eastern Caribbean that’s still home to the Kalinago people (pre-Colombian indigenous people). It is a quite big territory and some homes still have traditional structures. They have a small museum, Kalinago Barana Auté, which is a recreated traditional village. After a tour there we stop at a restaurant with a really cool view for some nice lunch.

Traditional sculptures in the Kalinago reserve.
Beautiful views.
More sculptures!
A waterfall in the recreated traditional village, a legend says that a mermaid recently lured two fishermen to death in the pool below the fall….
Very nice view from the lunch restaurant.
Local guava juice in a pretty bowl/glass.
In Dominica a lot of bars have their own flavored bush rum, some of the flavors in our lunch restaurant.

After a delicious local lunch we continued to a waterfall, the Spanny Falls. It is a twin fall, where you walk over some rock to get to the second fall. AT the first fall you can easily swim, which we did.

Taking a swim in the pool below Spanny Falls.
Spanny Falls.

After a long, but really nice day we went back to our boats to prepare for our next Dominican adventure.

Another hike on Dominica and finally we found a waterfall

Dominica is really “Natur-island” and offers a lot of hikes and we had a lot of planned hikes we wanted to do on our stay there. So we had a quite busy hiking schedule!

Our next hike would be a segment of the Waitikubuli trail. It is a hiking trail that goes from the south part of Dominica all the way to the north. It is divided into 14 segments of different levels. We had decided to walk along the 13th segment up in the north. We took a minibus together with Emma and Roger from Sanuti and Bram from Calypso, from Portsmouth to Capuchin were segment 13 started.

It was a pretty trail along the north coast, with some cool scenery along the way.  The trail was clear all the way and it was quite an easy hike.

A cute little waterfall along the hike.

The segment ended near Penville and from there we walked along the main road back to Portsmouth. From the road we took a small detour to see some cold water sulphur springs. A cool place were it bubbled up from the earth below. The smell was really bad though!

On the way to the cold sulphur springs.
The cold water sulphur springs.
Bathing our feet in the sulphur springs, said to be quite good for the skin..
On the way back to Portsmouth we found a little hiking trail again, with a lot of green!
Road blocked by a cow.

The following day we went on another hike, and the mission with this hike would be to find a waterfall we could swim in! We took another bus from Portsmouth south towards Roseau but jumped of were the road to the Syndicate Falls started. We had hoped that we would be able to hitchhike with some farmers to the path towards Syndicate Falls, but we didn’t see any car. So instead we walked along the road through the farm lands, which took about one and a half hour.

We took a local minibus towards the fall.

We found the path to the falls and in order to get to the fall we had to cross the river four times.

Cool Dominican views on the way to Syndicate Falls. 
We walked next to the river to get to the falls and had to cross the river four times before we could reach the falls.
First crossing.
Second crossing!
Third crossing, getting closer to the waterfall!
Fourth crossing, Syndicate Falls in sight!
Roti lunch break!. Roti is a common fastfood in the Caribbean. It is a kind of bread-wrap filled with some kind of meat or vegetables, potatoes and curry! A very tasty and usually cheap meal.
After lunch it was time for a swim in the waterfall!

After we had finished swimming below the waterfall we started heading back. We got surprised by a big shower and were really happy when we got a ride with some local farmers back to the main road. We got dropped off by the main road where we were able to catch a minibus. There are no scheduled busses like the ones we are used to back home here in Dominica. In Portsmouth and Roseau there are bus stations and the minibuses leave when they are full, and then they are really full! When you think that you cannot fit another person in the minibus another seat magically pops up! When heading back you just stand by the road until you see a minibus, wave to them and if they have room they stop and pick you up.

Really happy to get a ride back to the main road by some local farmers.

The day after this hike we had a chill day around Portsmouth, hanged out a local bar, played some volleyball etc.

A sign at a local bar in Portsmouth.
Vaccine myth at the same bar. When we got to Dominica they had just started vaccinating their citizens. 
Volleyball on the beach!

Trying to find a waterfall and Indian River boat tour

After we had gotten the results of our final PCR test (negative!) we were allowed to walk ashore in Dominica. The first thing we did was to take a walk around close to the Indian River (in the outskirts of Portsmouth) entrance to find a lunch place with Lady Ann. Finally we found a cheap burger place (not the best burgers but really good with some food).

After the lunch we walked back into Portsmouth and met up with Emma and Roger from Sanuti and Bram from Calypso and had a drink. And we also started planning what hike would be the first. We decided to try to find a waterfall called Brandy falls. It is not a very famous waterfall in Dominica and according to some hikesites it might be hard to find the path by the end. But we brought a machete and went of on the hike.

We started walking next to the Indian River, which offered some really cool scenaries. The Indian river was one of the filming locations for Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Pretty colors by the Indian river were we started our hike to Brandy falls hike. 
Walking by Indian River.
River crossing on the way to find the Brandy Falls.

After the river we continued along the path, saw an incredibly green field, some cows and got lost and had to find the path several times.

A normal road through farm lands in between jungle paths.
Happy hiker!

We finally got close to the falls, and while we walked on the road close to the fall we asked a local farmer about directions. She said that the path to the falls had been blocked by rocks during the latest hurricane and that it might be hard to find the fall. But we wanted to give it a try anyway, but after about one hour fighting through the jungle with the machete we gave up and turned back. We could at least hear the fall.

After one hour fighting the jungle with the machete and barely making any ground we decided to turn backa as it soon would be dark.

We got back to the main road and managed to catch a minibus (busses on Dominica are quite cheap, an example rate is Portsmouth-Roseau for 10 XCD (East Caribbean Dollars). Tired as we were after a long hike we sat down at the bar Purple Turtle by the beach, drank some beers and watch the sunset.

The following day we decided to go do some snorkeling, we walked to a bay north of Portsmouth. The snorkeling was not supergood, but the highlight of the snorkeling was that we heard whale song under the water! Very cool experience! The rest of the day we were just chilling, drinking some beers at Purple Turtle.

Our next trip in Dominica was the Indian River boat tour. On the Indian river you are not allowed to drive a boat with an engine, so easiest way to see it is with a guide. We went with the guide Titus.

We started the tour at the river entrance and we got to see different animals, mostly birds, crabs and fish, that lived by the river. We also saw the Tia Dalma’s hut from the Pirates-movies. The Indian River guides has rebuilt the hut by the river for tourists.

Mangrove trees by the Indian river.

After a while we stopped and went on a farm trip. We got to see how a lot fruits and vegetables we normally eat were grown, and also got a lot of herbs with us. This was very interesting!

Farm stop at the Indian river tour.

After the farm tour we went back to the river and followed the river back, the sun was almost about to set and it was cool to see the river by golden hour!

Golden hour at the Indian River!