Grenada Travel Guide

clear50w.GIF (57 bytes)

Ecological Attractions

eco02.jpg (15341 bytes)Grenada has in recent years begun to protect some of its most remarkable natural assets through a system of national parks and protected areas. Ranging from the magnificent Grand Etang Forest Reserve to the tranquil intimacy of La Sagesse estuary, these areas hold considerable attraction for hikers and birdwatchers as well as for those who simply want to become better acquainted with the peerless natural beauty of the island.

Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve
The most popular area in Grenada for hiking and trekking is undoubtedly the rainforest around the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, high up in the mountains of the island's interior. Grand Etang's varied elevations and terrains maintain several different ecological subsystems, culminating in the elfin woodlands high up the slopes of the reserve's central Mona monkeymountains. The focal point of the forest reserve is Grand Etang Lake, which fills the crater of one of the island's extinct volcanos. The rainforest around the lake holds a stupendously rich diversity of flora and fauna. Colourful tropical birds, tiny frogs and lizards, and rare orchids punctuate the dense rainforest vegetation, and the trails meander around the area's stunning waterfalls as well as the azure waters of Grand Etang Lake.

Grand Etang's flora includes towering mahogany and giant gommier trees as well as a multitude of ferns, tropical flowers, and other indigenous plants. The lush vegetation provides shelter for a wide variety of animals, particularly for the island's many species of birds. The broad-winged hawk (known here as the gree-gree), Lesser Antillean swift, Antillean euphonia, purple-throated carib, Antillean crested hummingbird (known as the little doctor bird), and the Lesser Antillean tanager (known as the soursop) are all common sights. In addition, the Grand Etang is populated by plenty of frogs and lizards, as well as playing host to opossums, armadillos, mongooses, and the mona monkey.

Hikes at Grand Etang range from easy 15-minute jaunts to rigorous expeditions of several hours. The trails are quite good, and the Forest Reserve provides excellent guides (both written and human). The reserve's hikes include:

The Morne LaBaye Trail
This brief and easy walk, which takes about fifteen minutes and is suitable for the whole family, features twelve points of interest intended to acquaint the visitor with the area's ecology.

The Ridge and Lake Circle Trail
The Lake Circle Trail, which takes about half an hour, winds down to and around the perimeter of Grand Etang Lake. In addition to allowing outstanding views of the lake itself, which is so stunning that it really cannot be missed, this trail wends down through trees bedecked with hibiscus and the island's many varieties of wild orchids, which grow on the trees for support.

Mt. Qua Qua Trail
One of the central mountains of Grenada's interior range, Mt. Qua Qua rises to a height of over 2,370 ft (720 m). The trail to and along its ridge passes by Grand Etang Lake and then rises up to the higher altitudes, cooler temperatures, and elfin mountain forests of the upper slopes. Hiking the trail takes about an hour and a half, with frequently steep and sometimes slippery sections that require some caution. One of the primary attractions of this walk, in addition to the panoramic prospects available from its occasional clearings, is that it provides a comprehensive introduction to the varied plant and animal life of both the rainforest and mountain ecosystems of Grand Etang.

Seven Sisters Trail
So named because it passes by seven of Grand Etang's beautiful mountain waterfalls, which are nestled in the profuse emerald vegetation of the rainforest. The trail takes about three hours, even for experienced hikers, but for those who are up to it the Seven Sisters is well worth the effort. Starting in an area of banana and nutmeg cultivation, the trail quickly plunges into some of the most attractive virgin forest on the island. As this hike can be difficult, the accompaniment of a guide is recommended.

Fedon's Mountain & Concord Falls
eco05.jpg (19207 bytes)Advanced hikers and trekkers should not forego the opportunity to take these two more substantial hikes, which link to the Mt. Qua Qua Trail in Grand Etang. The Concord Falls trail branches off from the Mt. Qua Qua Trail after about an hour, leading down through rainforest canopy, over hilltops and gurgling brooks, to bring you to the triple cascades of the Concord Falls. The lowest of the three is a very popular swimming area, camping spot, and tourist attraction, with modern facilities surrounding its generous swimming area. The upper falls, about twenty minutes' hike up the river, are definitely worth the short walk, as they are much less visited and even more beautiful. The 40 ft/12 m cascade plunges down through the thick vegetation to an inviting pool that offers a much more tranquil swim than you will find at the lower falls. The third and uppermost of the three cascades of Concord Falls lies considerably higher up the mountain and requires about two hours further hiking.

Branching off from the Concord Falls Trail before it reaches the cascades is the short but demanding path leading up to the cave-like recess of Fedon's Camp. The camp was the strategic base of Julien Fedon, a Grenadian of French origins who led a slave uprising against the British in 1765. This well-maintained but arduous trail takes you deep into the very heart of the Grand Etang rainforest, through shady groves mahogany, teak, and many of Grenada's other tree species. Giant ferns and birdlife abound here, including the green-throated carib and the yellow-billed cuckoo.

A guide is recommended for both the Fedon's Mountain and the Concord Falls treks.

Levera National Park
eco3.jpg (25003 bytes)The 450-acre Levera National Park holds a strong reputation as Grenada's most scenic and spectacular coastal area. Its picture-perfect beach is quite popular on weekends, and its lagoon is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the island. Consisting of an extensive mangrove swamp, the lagoon is a haven for an abundance of bird species, including many herons, black-necked stilts, common snipes, and other waterfowl. Levera's marine areas are equally esteemed, with outstanding coral reefs and sea grass beds that shelter lobsters and beautiful reef fishes. The beaches are also a hatchery for sea turtles, which are protected from May to September. Among the pleasant walks at Levera is a trail that circles the lagoon.

La Sagesse Nature Centre
This quiet mangrove estuary along the southwestern coast is one of the best bird-watching locales on Grenada. In addition to the estuary, La Sagesse includes three fine beaches edged with palm trees, a very good coral reef for snorkeling, a pristine example of dry thorn scrub and cactus woodland, and a salt pond. Of course, a good salt pond is the avian equivalent to a stunning beach, and this is one very inviting salt pond. It attracts an abundance of different species, including the brown-crested flycatcher, Caribbean coot, green-backed and little blue heron, and the northern jacuna. La Sagesse also maintains a small, four-room guesthouse and a restaurant that serves very tasty lunch fare.

Lake Antoine National Landmark
This shallow crater lake, like Grand Etang, is host to a wide variety of wildlife. The lake's perimeter trail, a beautiful walk in itself, is another of Grenada's excellent attractions for birdwatchers. Among the species frequently sighted are the snail kite, the fulvous whistling-duck, large-billed seed-finch, gray kingbird, and limpkin.



cellbg.GIF (55 bytes)
clear50w.GIF (57 bytes)

Geographia Home

Copyright (c) 1996-2010 interKnowledge Corp.  All rights reserved.