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i närheten av Parnasse, Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe)
Overall, the hike was BEAUTIFUL, NOT difficult... if you don't mind rock scrambles!
Best advice is to go slow... look around... do homework before you go so you do not miss what is around you as all signage is only in French!
Go early to avoid the crowds! (We started our climb at 8:00 a.m.) People of all ages will be there from children to older adults!!!
Hiking shoes or shoes with a good grip is a MUST!!!
Bring lunch, water and a windbreaker! Don't try to get done in 2hours. Again, you'll miss "the experience" if you do!!! This hike is more about the vegetation, the rock formations, fumeroles, faults, and the evolution of the volcano. View, if any, are an extra treat!!!
We were advised if there are no clouds at the parking lot, then proceed. If there are clouds at the parking lot, odds are you will not have good visibility at the top! (And I mean, just to see where you are walking, not views!!!)
This hike can be broken down into 8 stages:
(1) Parking Lot (950m) via La pas du Roy trail to Savanne à Mulets (1140m) where the original parking lot was. (Road access was destroyed in 2004 landslide.)
This is an easy man-made stone path/steps through the rainforest that takes 30 min. When you reach the Savanne... you leave the rainforest and the vegetation changes dramatically. There aren't any trees, and you are exposed to the sky!
(2) Savanne à Mulets (1140m) via Le chemin de Dames to the base of the climb to the Summit (base is approx. 1417m). This took us 1hr.
The path is rockier and winding. On a clear day, views of Base-Terre are beautiful. Along the way, be sure to note the Fajas landslide!
(3) From the end of Le chemic de Dames (approx 1417m) to the Summit (1467m) the climb is a TRUE rock scramble and took us about 15 min.
At the top is a marker where everyone helps take photos of one another for "having made it to the top"! Here it is quite windy!!!
(4) Beyond the Summit, there is a lot to explore. Here the terrain is flatter, but you can see the vegetation filled faults, force formations and fumaroles. As you explore, you are down a bit from the Summit, and the wind is not as bad.
We took about 45 min to explore and have a snack while there.
(5) After making the "loop", you descend via the same rock scramble with which you climbed originally. (15 min.)
(6) At the base of the rock scramble (1417m) we opted to take the Eastern route back toward the Col l'Echelle back to the Savanna à Mulets. This took us 1hr 45min.
This path was rocky, wet, and muddy, but by far the most beautiful portion of the hike!!! The changes in vegetation, the rock formation, landslides, faults, and mountain filled with wild orchids was breathtaking!!! There are also several stations where the Scientific Observation posts along the way!
This is NOT a difficult route, but it IS not and easy route either. Children were doing it. You just need to be limber and sure footed!
(7) When we finally reached the "road" at the Savanne, we noted a large rock with a wooden walkway leading to it... and blue ropes on the rock. This 20 min detour took us to the Rocker de la Vierge (the rock of the Virgin) We missed this on the way up as we never looked back! It is a little chapel carved high into the rock with a statue of the Virgin. You've gone this far, you don't want to miss this either!
(8) We descended from the Savanna à Mulets to Bains Jaunes via Le pas du Roy (30min).
At the base, the Bains Jaunes (Yellow Baths) are remains from the colonial times. There is a stone pool where the warm sulfonate water is there for you to adorn your swimsuit and hop in to give your muscles a therapeutic bath!!! It is very clean. Maintained regularly by the Park staff!
Enjoy!!! This is one you can do again and again!!!