I do not normally do reviews, but feel compelled to write about the Nevis Peak hike, because this was one of the most enjoyable hikes I have ever done. I was in two minds, because (1) I do not want to deprive guides of their livelihood and (2) I do not want to inappropriately convince unsuitable candidates to attempt this hike.
Much has been written about the importance of guides and how difficult and strenuous this climb is. I wish to give my views on these issues, to try and give balance to the reviews.
To debunk the two myths about this hike:
MYTH #1: YOU MUST HAVE A GUIDE
There is nothing wrong with hiring a guide if this is what you like to do. However, as stated by some other reviewers, this hike does not need a guide. It is extremely straight-forward to find and to stay on the trail. All you need to do is go up the road just after the Gingerland Police Station (if travelling North on the main ring road) and follow the signs to Peak Heaven. Park outside the gates. Walk past the black gates with white tips and go up the wide path next to these gates, following a chainlink fence. Then just keep going!
MYTH #2: THIS IS A DIFFICULT CLIMB
I am 52 and of average fitness. I do not go to the gym, take no regular formal exercise and am not a climber, but I do the occasional hike. I was concerned about reference to 1,000 – 1200 foot vertical climbs on ropes, but decided to go and have a look with my 15 year old son, planning to give up when the going got too tough. In reality, the ropes, which are in 15-25 foot sections, are there to assist clambering over large rocks if you need them – we did not use them going up but did use some of them coming down, primarily because the trail is permanently wet and can be slippery in places. The trail is totally shaded and cool, making it a very pleasant way to escape the Caribbean heat (we did the hike late June). We did the hike up to the clearing with the “guest book” in a little under 1 ½ hours and did not feel particularly tired. We did not go further (some reviewers talk of going on to a second summit), as this was intended as a pre-breakfast hike. Roundtrip from the car was around 3 hours. I intended to re-do the hike with my wife later in the day, and certainly felt up to it, but she decided to lie by the pool instead (it was our last day on Nevis).
In summary, while this trail may not be for everyone, anyone with reasonable fitness and a sense of adventure will love the hike. Warning: You will get quite muddy and it is more than likely that you will not enjoy any views due to the clouds, so you should do the hike for the safe of the hike, not for the views, which I am sure are great if you are lucky enough to have a break in the clouds (not our case). Despite the lack of view, this was the most exciting and rewarding hike I have ever done, hence my wish to share this experience with others via this review.
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