St Lucia adventure article
Strictly for the brave
St Lucia adventure article written by Travel Writer Solange Hando
‘All aboard? No standing, belts on, let’s go.’
It was Palm Sunday and in Castries the streets were almost traffic free. Men sold palm fronds along the pavements and little girls dressed in white sauntered on their way to church. But in the safari jeep, striped like a zebra, six of us were setting off on an inland adventure. Beyond Morne Fortune and its glorious bird’s eye view of the harbour we veered off into the hills.
‘Ok, no more road checks now, you can stand up but hold on tight.’
So we did, swaying right and left as we swerved around endless bends, as excited as children on a school outing. Fortunately, the handrails were padded. Locals waved at the roadside, huts sheltered under the palm trees and clusters of tin roofs splashed colour across lush rolling slopes. Now and then, cows strolled on the tarmac, family in tow, as if they had every right to be there and inspect the potholes.
On the forest trail
Fording a stream
Fun in the rock pool
A St Lucia adventure experience… strictly for the brave
We stopped on a ridge to sample guava and coconut milk while the bravest among us came to grips with a young boa constrictor. At 950 metres, Mount Gimie rose in the distance, cloaked in lush rainforest and silhouetted against a bright blue sky. But we didn’t aim that high. We promptly dived into Roseau Valley where banana plantations stretched in a vast ocean of green, strung with blue plastic bags to protect the fruit from lizards and insects. Judging by the lovely villas scattered around, business is thriving. So we stocked up on energy food, bananas, cassava bread and slow-melting chocolate, ready for a thirty minute trek.
Well, it wasn’t Soufrière and its drive-in crater puffing out fumes, or the mighty peaks of the Pitons, but this was our own little corner of the forest with no one else around… except of course for Mr Rainbow who sat under the same tree every morning, carving birds out of coconut shells.
‘Very cheap,’ he pleaded, ‘and so beautiful. That’s an oriole, and that one’s a parrot, our national bird, a banana quit, a hummingbird, can you see? I know them all.’
Ten minutes later, backpacks bulging a little more, we escaped down a steep trail, hopping from log to log and grabbing here and there the remains of a rope which served as a handrail. We brushed past bamboo and fern and tall tropical trees reaching up to the sky. There were orchids and bromeliads, bright hibiscus, heliconia and great tangles of liana hanging down like giant cobwebs. Water echoed in the undergrowth, tumbled over volcanic rocks and we forded a stream, losing a sandal or two though not for long. But what about the dreaded fer-de-lance, I wondered, that most venomous snake with a near-rectangular head, which attacks anything that moves and even waits for its prey to return? Well, it seems I need not worry for on this paradise island, they say, there are more deaths from falling coconuts than snake bites.
A refreshing reward on our St Lucia adventure
But now, all around us, the forest creaked and squeaked, eerie shadows moved in the undergrowth and sometimes a raucous call shattered the silence high up in the canopy. It was hot and humid and when we emerged back into the light at last, we gazed in disbelief for there it was, the most inviting rock pool we’d ever seen, milky blue and as placid as a lamb until we all jumped in. There was much splashing and laughing, jumping, swimming, chasing, then as fresh the morning dew, we sat on the glistening rocks to enjoy the last chocolates and a cool Piton beer.
About the author of this St Lucia adventure article:
Solange Hando is a freelance travel journalist and photographer with a keen interest in Asia, and an in-depth knowledge of Nepal and Bhutan. Solange writes for publications worldwide, contributes to National Geographic books and has gained a number of awards – including ‘Best St Lucia Travel Writer’.
Images on this St Lucia adventure article page are copyright of Travel Writer Solange Hando