The volcano the Soufriere, Guadeloupe’s active volcano is most commonly known as “the old lady’ in the traditional local French/Creole talk. But in reality this “old lady” is really a young teenager. This “young” ( in geological terms) active volcano, has only had it’s dome since 1530 and it did not exist when Christopher Columbus Landed in Guadeloupe in 1493.
An Active Volcano
The volcano the Soufriere is one of the most inhospitable places in the world to visit. As it may scare a few people, it fascinates others to go and visit the sulfuric crater of this magnificent natural feature. The Soufriere is monitored 24 hours a day 7 days a week for observation and data collecting by teams of national and international scientists. The scientists are always analyzing the data in order to try and maybe one day, understand these kinds of natural disasters. The unique environment around the slopes and especially at the dome part of the volcano the Soufriere is completely unique.
One of the major differences with this volcano compared to others around the world is that it rains about 10 meters a year at the top of it’s dome. Which makes this place one of the most wet places around the world. Another reason for it’s unique vegetation is that the dome is hidden in the clouds for about 300 days out of the year. Giving it a perfect environment for unique life to develop itself slowly. The consistent wind that blows all year round is also a unique factor to the development of life here. The temperature stays at around 19 degrees Celsius so the growth stage of plants are a little bit longer then usual. Plants takes years to grow instead of months.
The luxuriant vegetation has a very important role for scientists for understanding the different adaptations of plants and animals in this type of environment. Learning about their conditions of life and how life prospers on this in inhospitable place.
How To Get To The Volcano The Soufriere
The best place to access the trails that lead to the Volcano the Soufriere is at Bains Jaunes (Yellow Baths) the end of the highway the D11. These natural hot water sulfur baths were constructed in the 19th century by the colonial army. There are signs and posts all along the trail for visitors to follow all the way to the dome of the volcano. They are made to inform hikers of the history of this trail and the mountain itself. This trail that leads you to the sommet takes about two hours to hike and starts with the trail called “Pas du Roy”. This trail leads you directly through the humid rain forest and continues until you see the trail Savane a Mulets that then leads you to the dome by the Chemin des Dames.All these trails are well indicated but that doesn’t prevent you from taking a guided tour with an excursion team.
There are many tour guides and excursions companies that take different paths and trails through the thick rain forest. from there you can discover rivers, canyons and hike ll the way up to the dome using all the best safety equipment possible and a friendly team of hikers as well. This is probably one of the best ways to discover other hidden secrets of this “Old lady” that you wouldn’t be able to discover otherwise. Vert Intense, Otantik Tours, Caraib Safari, or Canyon Guadeloupe can take you on different kinds of rain forest hiking and volcano tours that usually lasts half a day and starts in the morning until the beginning of the afternoon. Prices vary from 40 euros for half day tours to 80 euros for full day tours. I recommend you check out the different tours that they offer and the unique experience each one offers.
On the slopes of the dome you can find a purple and yellow pineapple plant with violet flowers and fushia of the mountains ( flower). This area is also dominated by a special tree called the “mangle-mountain” winch is a very robust plant with thick leaves. This environment is prone to a lot of fungus and fern type of plants due to it’s heavy humidity. The rest of the vegetation is quite discreet at this altitude but you can still here different kinds of wild life all around you. From the tiny frogs that are unique to Guadeloupe to the Mygale of the Soufriere spider which is the emblem of this volcano.
There are a multitude of other trails that are in this area that start from this zone that can lead you to the waterfalls of Galion, to the Citerne, and leads you to the water source Matouba. This natural area is full of history and lots of wonderful outdoor activities that anyone can do if there in “ok” physical shape. Guadeloupe is for the athlete in everyone especially when visiting this beautiful country you have to be able to experience and appreciate the natural beauty of this unique and adventurous island.
That is why you should go out and experience the beautiful island of adventure and visit the different places that are at your disposal. You can some of these things for free but the best parts are a little bit harder to get to so I would suggest going with a tour guide and go for the full adventure of Guadeloupe.