If you’re thinking of trekking off the beaten track and experiencing some of the best hiking in the Caribbean, then look no further than the Caribbean’s only long-distance walking trail. Michael Eugene introduces the hidden treasure that is Dominica’s Waitukubuli National Trail…
The Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT) is the first and only long-distance walking trail within the entire Caribbean region.
Where is it?
The WNT is on the island of Dominica, in the Eastern Caribbean between the French islands of Martinique (south) and Guadeloupe (north). There are loads of awesome activities in Dominica, but the WNT is one you simply can’t pass up.
What’s the attraction?
The Waitukubuli National Trail spans the length and breadth of the island, through communities, farmlands, forests, national parks and marine reserves. It showcases all of Dominica’s treasure troves. To walk the trail offers the opportunity to traverse the mountainous interior, to experience the Morne Trois Pitons National Park World Heritage Site, climb the slopes of steaming rainforests, descend dramatic gorges, cross countless rivers, enjoy spectacular waterfalls and steaming sulphur springs, pass through old plantations, skirt along coastal cliffs, meander through fertile farm lands and to stop by many small villages.
How about the logistics?
The WNT is well signposted, with yellow and blue way markers. There are benches and shelters the whole way. Most segments start within communities, giving easy access. Special transportation arrangements are necessary to get to the other segments: service providers offer this and other logistics, such as accommodation, food, a tour guide and porterage services.
Why should everyone else walk the Waitukubuli National Trail?
The WNT embodies all that Dominica is all about, and showcases the island’s culture, traditions and nature. To walk the WNT provides an up-close encounter of our treasured secrets as well first hand encounters with our local people. The WNT is the gateway to everything hidden and inaccessible, and also the link to many other hiking trails.
What should you pack? Sturdy hiking boots, trekking poles, waterproofs, insect repellent, sunscreen, water shoes, a first aid kit, paper tissue and a hat. A mobile phone is useful for maintaining contact though service along segments eight and nine is very spotted.
When should you go? Dominica’s weather is mild and any time is great for hiking. Summer (March to August) allows for longer hiking days, though it may be slightly hotter during that period.
What are the dangers? Because Dominica has no poisonous animals, there are few dangers along the WNT. Heat and humidity, as well as the harsh island terrain (in spots) will be the greatest enemies of trail users. Look out for the Manchineel plant however, an attractive red berry found along the first and the last segment – this berry should not be eaten. Swollen rivers in the higher elevations is another danger, as with excessive rainfall flash flooding can occur.
What are the highlights? Everything that Dominica is well known for can be found along the trail: the Boiling Lake; scuba diving in the Marine Reserves; the indigenous Kalinago people; Morne Diablotins (the highest mountain); National Parks/Forest Reserves, and friendly people throughout.