Boiling Lake hike – Dominica

Waitukubli (pronounced Y 2K BULI) is the name that the Carib people called a rugged volcanic island long before 1493 when Christopher Columbus visited on his second voyage. Today we call this mountainous island Dominica.

I have visited Dominica three times. The flight from Barbados is a short one, and the landing at Melville Hall Airport is very scenic if the pilot approaches over the Coconut Plantation.

Dominica is an Eco –Tourism destination and has the best hiking in the Eastern Caribbean. It has trails to suit all levels of fitness. Most are within a few hours driving from Roseau and can be done as day hikes. Local hiking companies will arrange everything including guides, the permits for the national parks, transport and food. It is a very mountainous island and even a 30-minute walk can be challenging. There are also many waterfalls that are worth visiting.

The Waitukubuli Trail winds from Cabrits National Park in the North to Scotts Head in the South through the center of the island. This is divided into 14 sections and can be done in 14 to 15 days or as individual sections as you prefer. I completed 6 sections, from Scotts Head to Castle Bruce, in 2011, with a group from the Barbados Hiking Association. The rest of the group continued to do the entire trail. The route winds through several small villages. Accommodation can either be in small guesthouses or camping. Food and drink can be purchased at shops in the villages.

The Government of Dominica financed the Waitukubuli trail with help from the European Union and the Regional Council of Martinique. This entailed clearing of existing trails, making new ones where needed, installing bridges over the numerous rivers, building shelters and installing trail markers. It is well marked and has signposts so navigation is not a problem. However parts of it are very slippery and caution is required. You will be hiking through a tropical rain forest so expect to get wet.

The Boiling Lake hike takes about 8 hours round trip and passes through the valley of Desolation. This valley has many fumaroles where Steam, Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen Suplhide are vented from volcanic activity deep in the earth. The walk through here can be difficult due to the heat of the vents and the pungent smell of the gases.

The Boiling Lake is in the crater of the volcano and gets its name from the hot gases comprised of Steam (96.3%), Carbon Dioxide (3.1%) and Hydrogen Sulphide (0.6%) rising from the lake.

I returned in 2014, with Petra my niece, and we did this hike. The trail has some steep sections and was wet and muddy, especially on the way back when we were caught is a tropical rain shower. It was worth the effort to see the forces of nature close-up, despite of the smell of Hydrogen Sulphide. A guide is recommended for this hike.

Dominica has a resident population of Sperm whales. You are almost guaranteed sighting on one of the many whale-watching trips. We were very lucky to see about 30 during our recent visit. I have had the pleasure of seeing whales on other trips but never as close or as many as in Dominica. They are not bothered by the boats and swim along side with out any sign of fear. We also saw a large pod of Dolphin.

Dominica has great diving and many visit the island strictly for the diving. The dive sites are along the West Coast as it is sheltered from the rough Atlantic waves. You will return from the dive all smiles by the colours of the corals and sea-life in the clear waters.

The forests are filled with many birds, some very colorful, and you may be lucky to see the “Mountain Chicken” a frog that is now critically endangered but was once a local delicacy.

The local beer, Kubuli, is also very good.

You can click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image with captions.

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Responses to “Boiling Lake hike – Dominica”

  1. David Martin

    Hello John

    We love your pieces on the Boiling Lake and in particular the 1964 Caribbean football tour by the English teams Chelsea and Wolverhampton.

    Do you have any memorabilia of that tour? newspaper articles or similar, football programmes?

    Would love to hear from you


    David Martin (currently in Tobago)

  2. John Fraser

    Two of the happiest years of my life. 1969 and 1970, were spent in Dominica. What a spectacular island: numerous waterfalls, pristine rivers, black sand beaches, delicious fruit etc etc. Wonderful people who have had a hard time economically and weather wise. We had our first two children there. Many happy memories.

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