Nature in our ‘backyard’….

Nature in our ‘backyard’….

A nice walk in ‘the backyard of The Champs’ is to the viewpoint over looking the bay in Portsmouth and Cabrits. You can just start your walk at The Champs and walk up the hill, before the water tank you go left on a small trail. If you are lucky you can spot parrots here!

After about 10 minutes you will reach a gravel road, take this road up to the banana plantation. Each banana plant has one bunch of bananas covered in a blue plastic bag.  The bunches are covered with plastic bags for three reasons: to provide a suitable microclimate for the bananas to ripen more quickly, to protect the bananas (at least to some degree) from insects and other pests and to prevent the bananas from being bruised when it is windy and leaves may brush against the bunch. If  you are interested you can take a look at the shelter were they sort the banana’s before taken to the market.

 

 

 

Just before the shelter on your left hand side you’ll find a small path winding down through the banana plantation (marked Waitukubuli trail). This path will lead you to the Picard Bridge where you can go swimming in the river or just continue hiking along the trail. This is part of the Waitukubuli trail, which spans 115 miles across the island of Dominica and the Picard Bridge is just a tiny portion of it.  The bridge is a little unstable, so be careful when crossing it.

 

 

 

You will follow your way up, some parts are quite steep, there are ropes to help you up. After about 45 minutes you will reach the viewpoint. There is a small shelter to enjoy the view or have a picknick break. From here you can just take the same route down and back to Hotel The Champs where we wait for you with a nice cold beer or cocktail……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking Bwa Nef Falls

Hiking Bwa Nef Falls

If you would like to visit a waterfall in the Northern part of Dominica, check out Bwa Nef Falls! The trailhead to Bwa Nef can be found off of the Northern Link Road between Lower Penville and En Bas/Vielle Case, about 30 minutes drive from Hotel The Champs. There is a sign marking the trail from the main road.

To start the hike, you walk from the main road down towards the river. There you will see the upstream river trail that leads the way to Bwa Nef. During the hike you will be walking around mud, water, rocks, tree roots, foliage etc. so be sure to have appropriate shoes.

 

 

 

It takes about 35 minutes to hike to the waterfall. You will pass banana plantations and thick jungle where you can spot land crabs. The tall waterfall is in a small canyon, tucked away from view until you are right below it. The cascade is almost hidden behind these towering rock walls. Beams of light, coming around boulders wedged between the rock walls above you, shine down through the water. It’s glorious! There is a small little area to ‘swim’ in if you want.

 

   

 

A nice stop on the way could be the cold Sulphur Springs; Unlike most of the springs on Dominica and other Caribbean islands, these are characterized by very cold water which comes as a surprise considering that they are located just next to the active volcano. But apparently, magma layer lies too deep under the ground to heat the water.

Dominica is geologically a very young island and geothermal activity is still present here. Cold Sulphur Springs is one of many sites that confirms it- you can see how water is bubbling not only in the main pool but also in the numerous geysers of different size. It’s just a few hundred meters from the main road and reachable by a well- prepared path.

 

 

Looking for the perfect Beach?

Looking for the perfect Beach?

Batibou Beach is an expansive and secluded soft-sand beach in the North-East of the island. This beach is known as one of the best beaches of Dominica. It is about half an hour drive from Hotel The Champs on the way to Calibishie.

On arrival you can park along the road near the entrance path or you can attempt the drive down on a road filled with potholes if you have a 4×4. It is nice to take the leisurely walk down through the forest full of palm trees. If you are lucky you can spot hummingbirds here.

 

   

 

The majority of the walk is in the jungle until you find yourself in an open spot overlooking Batibou Beach and several cliffside villages that speckle the north coast. The view makes you want to move faster and go down to this piece of paradise. The water is turquoise with splashing waves onto the gold sand. The beach is bordered by tall palm trees and the surrounding jungle makes it even more serene. If you have completed the walk down to the beach, there are two security guys who collect a 13 EC ($5 US) per person fee. This is for crossing the private acces road to the and for security on the beach.

There is enough space on the beach to find yourself a nice spot in the sun to let the sun and salt soak into your skin until you want to take a swim. The Atlantic Ocean here is calm enough for swimming and a gently sloping sea bed means you can wade out a good distance.

 

   

 

On the beach there is a small beach shack where you can have a drink or order lunch. You can use this beach as a nice stop for you (half) day trip to the north, but you can easily spend more than a few hours here. Just bring your hammock (there are perfectly placed palm trees here) and a good book and let the scenery do the rest……

 

 

 

Catching fresh fish in Dominica…

Catching fresh fish in Dominica…

On a quiet early saturdaymorning walk you might have the luck to catch a glimpseof some fishermen taking in their nets. Most generally, Dominica fishermen rely upon small boats ranging from hand crafted boats carved from a single tree trunk by the native KalinagoIndians to small row boats, to slightly larger boats powered by single, 40hp outboard motors or less. Dominica fishermenuse fish nets, fish pots, spears and go out in their boats for the bigger fish.

The smaller, man-powered boats are seen daily bobbing, most generally a quarter to half a mile from shore.Using hand lines, these fishermen seek anything that will take their bait from barracuda, garfish, wahoo,snapper and other. Other fishermen can be seen checking fish pots. They go out in the sea and drop the fish pot in the ocean to come back next day or a few days later to pick their catch, many times they findlobster in the pots.Lion Fish are hunted with spear fishing. Most of the time by divers or free divers. If you come for a dive holiday this will be one of the options for you to learn!

 

 

 

Close to shore, others  set and pull large nets to catch blue robinsand other hand-sized fish that swim close to shore in large shoals.What cannot be observed is those fishermen who have ventured 5 to 50+ miles off shore, in their single engine boats. They are seeking big fish,blue marlin and tuna.Leaving before daybreak, these brave men take their passions “out there.”You can buy fresh fish at the Fish market (where they will cut and clean it for you) or straight from the fishermen at the beach or the side of the street.We prefer to buy our fish from the fish market in Roseau where we pre-order and geta nice piece of fresh fishfor our guests!

No better treat then a fresh caughtseared tuna @ Hotel The Champs…

 

 

 

Fifty shades of green; Syndicate & Milton Falls

Fifty shades of green; Syndicate & Milton Falls

Nestled on the foothills of Dominica’s tallest mountain, Morne Diablotin, and close to the Picard River Gorge is the Syndicate Nature Trail. From hotel the Champs it is just a 10 minutes drive on the main road before you take the turnoff just before Dublanc into the mountains for another half an hour. The easy loop trail through the rainforest on the western slopes of Morne Diablotin is beloved by birders for the good chance of spotting Dominica’s endangered national bird, the Sisserou parrot, and its cousin, the Jaco parrot. The best spotting time is in the early morning and late afternoon. Also watch for hummingbirds and several dozen other feathered species. If you are a bird lover, we can also arrange special guided bird watching for you in this area.

Syndicate also has a diverse array of flora. It is a key location for research and educational purposes and has lovely view points along the walking path. Once on this trail there are incredible high, prehistoric-looking trees, beautiful varieties of textures and patterns. There are areas with large clearings and nice lookouts where you can experience how beautiful this ecosystem is.

 

   

 

After you hiked this nature trail, you start your way down again by car. On the way down you stop for the second hike to Milton Falls. The other name is Syndicate Falls, named after the area.

The trail to the fall starts where the Milton Falls signpost and a large mango tree are. At the beginning of the walk you wander through farm land. In them you can spot peppers, coffee, passionfruit, grapefruit, papayas etc.

 

 

 

Before the next part of the path you finally see a ‘gate’ and a little house which takes your $5 or $10EC donation for entering private land. After passing the final bit of farm land the path take you into thicker bush, high grasses, citrus trees dripping with moss and vines with mystery green fruit. You find yourself in a green valley surrounded by high peaks and flowing rivers. You make your way up rocky banks, crisscrossing the river, finally spotting the waterfall through the trees. It is absolutely stunning and a nice spot to take a swim and have lunch!

 

   

 

After some relaxing it is time to move forward. Another nice stop on your way down the main road is the Free up farm. Free Up Farm is a 7-acre farm where they have over 300 trees planted, an assortment of unique fruit and medicinals including Cacao, Mangosteen, Soursop, Moringa and Neem. The farm will serve as a demonstration site for the sustainability and profitability of permaculture and organic farming methods. The owners Aubrey and Lulu are more than willing to welcome you (www.freeupfarm.com)

After this food and veggie experience it’s time to go back; your cocktail at Hotel the Champs is waiting for you…..

History and nature combined in Cabrits National Park…

History and nature combined in Cabrits National Park…

Cabrits is the name of two steep block-like summits that are the remnants of a large collapsed volcano. Despite their elevation, the two Cabrits, West and East both provide fine views and they rise directly out of the ocean in a rather spectacular manner.

From Hotel the Champs it’s only a 20 minute ride to the entrance of the park which is located north of Portsmouth. Once you get to the park there is a $5 (US)/ $13 (EC) entrance fee. Turn right at the main entrance and you’ll take a path up to the trailheads. To the left and up the hill is Fort Shirley and the West Cabrits Trail. To the right is a trail that leads to the Commandant’s Quarters and the Douglas Bay Battery on the East Cabrits Trail. Both are well graded and only moderately steep.

 

   

 

Fort Shirley is a large 18th-century British garrison which once housed 600 soldiers. The Officer’s Quarters has undergone a major renovation. The Fort is now used for various functions such as Weddings, Receptions, Concerts and other events on the island. From here you have a gorgeous view of Prince Rupert Bay.

After a visit to Fort Shirley you can continue on one of the trails. You can walk them both easily in half a day and discover the old ruins covered in vines in this small jungle. Wildlife is abundant on the trails you can see many land crabs, hermit crabs, lizards, snakes, iguana and many birds. Although the area is heavily forested, this is probably one of the driest areas of Dominica. While the higher mountains to the east are bathed in almost perpetual cloud cover, often the Cabrits stay bright and sunny.

 

   

 

After your visit to the park you can decide to walk back to Hotel the Champs (if your legs are still fine) or to take a taxi ride. If you are going to walk you will pass Purple Turtle Beach, a nice sandy beach were you can take a swim or stop for a drink. After this relaxing break you will pass the small city of Portsmouth and will arrive at Hotel the Champs after another 30 minutes’ walk……

 

 

 

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