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Hike the Saint Lucia Rainforest

Updated on June 29, 2012



In the Saint Lucian rainforest in August, the paths beneath our feet are damp with leaf mould and the smell of mushrooms. Often the sparkle of tiny quartz crystals catches my eye, artifacts of the igneous origin of the soil in the interior highlands of this volcanic tropical island. It is rainy season, and the leaves also sparkle with a recent shower. We are walking single file on the 5 km path to Enbas Saut Waterfalls in the 19,000 acres of the Central Rainforest Reserve about 8 km east of Soufriere.

In the quiet around us, huge trunks of gommier, banyen and blue mahaut trees form a green canopy, while lichens, anthurim lilies, wild nutmeg and tropical vines soften edges and pour pools of brightness in the shadows. Through gaps in the forest we glimpse the peak of Mount Gimie, St Lucia's highest point at elevation 3,117 ft. Its upper slopes, now veiled with wreathes of cloud, are home to mangrove cuckoos, black finches, blue-hooded euphonias and mountain whistlers. and the national bird, the St Lucian parrot.

Our guide warns us that boa constrictors live here too, and we keep a sharp eye out, but happily don't meet one today.

Rain forest grove
Rain forest grove | Source
Bamboo grove frames the next peak over, to the east. Piton Canarie, Piton Troumassee and Mount Gimie are all near the Enbas Saut Trail and are usually covered in cloud.
Bamboo grove frames the next peak over, to the east. Piton Canarie, Piton Troumassee and Mount Gimie are all near the Enbas Saut Trail and are usually covered in cloud. | Source
Petit Piton through rain forest
Petit Piton through rain forest | Source
On the misted mountains, cloud forest grows.  In the rain forest, it rains a lot.
On the misted mountains, cloud forest grows. In the rain forest, it rains a lot. | Source

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Tropical Highland Ecosystems: Rain Forest, Cloud Forest, and Elfin Woodlands

In places the path through the rainforest, cloud forest and elfin woodlands has been built by fallen logs sawed into lengths to form steps down slippery slopes, not only for safe access but also to protect the plants and prevent erosion from foot traffic. The terrain is uneven, roughly following the course of the Tourmassee River to the waterfalls. Constructing the trail in the remote area was no easy task, involving cutting and carrying logs for stairs, bridges and corduroy sections through swampy places, and back-filling steps with river gravel carried in buckets up from the stream.

Source

Habitat of the St Lucian Parrot, Amazona Versicolor



Our guide keeps searching the canopy for signs of the St Lucian parrot, and calls us together to listen to its call at one point, but I can not see it. I notice only branches and leaves above, and the skeletons of old leaves beside my feet. In this climate of constant growing season, new growth and decay are continuous and interwoven, the decay nourishing the growth.




decaying leaf
decaying leaf | Source

The bridge across the ravine is slippery with moss and algae from the constant damp. I lose my balance for a moment, but grab the rail before I fall. In the ravine below, huge fern trees tower, remnants from the days of dinosaurs, before plants had evolved the capacity to reproduce with seeds.

wooden walkway
wooden walkway | Source
Tree ferns are ancient plants,  older than angiosperms.
Tree ferns are ancient plants, older than angiosperms. | Source
Banyen tree
Banyen tree | Source

Enbas Saut Waterfalls and the Headwaters of the Tourmassee River in Saint Lucia

After about half an hour walk downhill, we hear the sound of quick water, and know we are approaching the Enbas Saut Falls. We are hot, and look forward to swimming in the natural rocky pool.

The path follows the course of the Tourmassee River, and in places we wade across the rocky stream.
The path follows the course of the Tourmassee River, and in places we wade across the rocky stream. | Source

Headwaters of the Tourmassee River in St Lucia

The icy stream in the gorge below is the headwaters of the Tourmassee River in St Lucia.
The icy stream in the gorge below is the headwaters of the Tourmassee River in St Lucia. | Source

Rainforest plants and animals in the Edmund Forest Preserve in St Lucia

Fresh water crayfish inhabit the rocky pools.
Fresh water crayfish inhabit the rocky pools. | Source

The falls are beautiful, white spray over black rocks that form the face of the cliff above the natural pool. The water is clear, and very cold. We had brought our bathing suits, and changed to get wet, but the water is too cold for me to really enjoy it. One of the local boys, a friend or relative of the guide leaps in with laughter, but I can barely breathe, let alone laugh. He is celebrating the beginning of his school holidays. I creep on wooden feet, barely feeling the slippery stones beneath me, duck quickly, gasping, and dash out.

falling spray
falling spray | Source
icy Enbas Saut waterfall
icy Enbas Saut waterfall | Source

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Edmund Forest Preserve Half-day Hike of Moderate Difficulty

After exploring the waterfall, we begin the walk back uphill. Our guide does it easily, flight after flight of stairs. She plays soccer for the St Lucian national team on the weekends, and during the week leads groups on rain forest hikes on various trails in the Central Rainforest Reserve. She is in great shape, but I am not. I stop to catch my breath, and take a breather when we come to a bench or two along the way.

Eventually the trail levels off, and we walk the last part to the road through plantations of torch lilies and bananas. In the fields, local families had planted yams and tethered their cows to graze.

In all, the hike took us two or three hours, including time to play at the falls, Wear running shoes if you go, and bring a snack, water, your bathing suit and a towel.


rain forest canopy across the valley
rain forest canopy across the valley | Source
grazing cow
grazing cow | Source
A
Enbas Saut Waterfall, near Edmund Forest Reserve, St Lucia:
Edmund Forest Reserve, St Lucia

get directions

B
Soufriere, St Lucia:
Soufriere, St Lucia

get directions

C
Mount Gimie, St Lucia:
Mt Gimie, Saint Lucia

get directions

D
Petit Piton, St Lucia:
Petit Piton, Belle Vue, Saint Lucia

get directions

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    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      I hope you get to go back soon. Have fun!!

    • lulu16 profile image

      lulu16 

      6 years ago from T & T

      Fun galore! I went for a week o a football tour way back in 1982. I'm much overdue, as I can't even remember the Hotel. My wife keeps urging me to show her St. Lucia, a beautiful island.

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      We went to the Fish dinner street party at Anse la Raie instead of Gros Islet, and visited hot springs at Diamond River and Malgretoute. There is so much to do in St Lucia--we have to go back!!

      Did you have fun, Lulu6? How long did you stay, and where?

    • lulu16 profile image

      lulu16 

      6 years ago from T & T

      Lovely photos of St. Lucia which bring back fond memories of my visit. Did you bathe in the Soufriere volcano sulphur spring like I did? Or enjoy Gros Islet street party?

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      I will! I hope I get to go back soon.

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 

      6 years ago from North America

      Yes, we did and I did a hub on it, here:

      http://kalmiya.hubpages.com/hub/Tall-Ships-Adventu...

      We went into the 'Drive in Volcano' at Soufriere and the Diamond Waterfall gardens. It was a whole day sail with food/drink on board. It was great except we had a light drizzle of rain most of the day. If you get a chance, try it it next time!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Did you get on the tall ship in Castries, and sail down from the north end of the island? I saw that ship pass, but we didn't go on it. We were staying at the south end of St. Lucia, near Soufriere, at l'Anse Chastanet Resort.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kalmiya.

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 

      6 years ago from North America

      St. Lucia is a gorgeous exotic island. We went some years back and took a tall ships sail up the coast which was awesome with a side trip into Soufriere. Thanks for the lovely photos!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for visiting and commenting, mecheshier. I hope you get to go there yourself one day, and enjoy the beauty first hand.

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 

      6 years ago

      Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing. Voted up for awesome.

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