Morne Trois Pitons National Park
The name of the park translates to "Mountains of Three Peaks". In the park you find unspoiled forest hard to access. The park is most famous for the Valley of Desolation with its geysers and mud lakes. However, there's much more than that in the park — including water falls and lakes with crystal clear water.
The national park was just a forest area in 1940, since 1952 a forest reserve and since 1975 a national park — the first one on Dominica. In 1997 UNESCO declared the park a world heritage site. Today Morne Trois Pitons comprises an area of 6800 hectares, six signposted hiking paths complete with with picnic sites and rain covers.
There are four former volcanoes in the park. Morne Trois Pitons itself has a height of 1532m. From its peak the distance to the sea is about 8km. Morne Watt reaches a height of 1317m, Morne Anglais 1207m and Morne Macaque 1120m.
The dry period from March to May is the best time to visit the park.
You can hike to the peaks of the former volcanoes along narrow paths, however you should always go with a guide. To ascend the Morne Trois Pitons, three hours in each direction is required. To get from Wotten Waven to the summit of Morne Watt, expect four hours in each direction. To get to the peak of Morne Anglais, starting from the village of Giraudel you will be at the summit in two hours, to get back it takes another two hours.
There's a funicular called Dominica Rainforest Aerial Tram, operated by the company Rainforest Sky Rides, giving passengers a great view of Trois Pitons. The station is near Titou. The 22 gondolas have eight seats each and ascend the Titou Canyon with views of the Breakfast river. There is a guide on board telling passengers about the vegetation below. A ride takes 70 minutes, but you will also have the option to stop mid-way and walk across the river along a suspension bridge — not for those afraid of high places. On the downside, the aerial tram only operates on days when cruise ships dock in Roseau. Titou Gorge is also the starting point for the path to the Boiling Lake (again, a qualified guide is required).
- Boiling Lake. An enormous geyser in the park — in fact the second largest in the world. To get there, go along the path from Titou Canyon, preferably with a qualified guide. The trail is 12km long, starting from Laudat, across the Titou gorge and uphill and downhill through tropical vegatation. At the Boiling Lake, the water temperature on the surface reaches +90°C, and you can see and her that the water is boiling when looking at the lake from above.
- Valley of Desolation. Nearby the Boiling Lake, there's the Valley of Desolation. Formerly a dense forest, it was destroyed when sulfur fumes erupted from the ground in 1997. You can also get to the valley along another route from the Atlantic side. This route, called "Kent Gilbert" is a bit shorter, starts from the La Plaine village, and passes near to the Sari-Sari waterfalls that can be heard hundreds of meters away. From the waterfalls you can also access the Middleham Falls, described below.
- Emerald Pool. Starting from the visitor center at Castle Bruce, this is possible the easiest path in the park and it leads to the Emerald Pool with its small waterfall. On the downside, it get very crowded on days when cruise ships arrive at the island.
- Lake Freshwater and Lake Boeri. Lake Freshwater, also serving as Rouseau's water supply can be reached along a paved path. Nearby starts the path up to Lake Boeri, 940m above the sea level, often covered in mist and clouds.
- Middleham Falls. This 30m high waterfall feeds a pool of surprisingly cold water. Two trails lead to it, one from Providence near the Laudat village and another one from Sylvania.
Signage on paths are often non-existent, so it's easy to get lost if you're on your own. Moreover, at just 15° above the Equator, the sun sets earlier that you might expect. It's therefore safest to hike with a qualified guide rather than on your own. You will find guides at the cable car station, but freelance guides tend to have a lot lower rates.
Ken's Hinterland Adventure Tours is a guide company at the higher end of the price spectrum.