La Soufrière shares with Mount St. Helen (USA) the fame of being one of the most studied volcanoes in the world. It rises majestically to over 4,000 feet. A tour to La Soufrière takes you along the picturesque windward (eastern) coast, through banana and coconut plantations to where the foot trail begins. You travel along steep volcanic ridges verdant with bamboo and tropical trees. This is a day’s journey for energetic hikers who should leave early in the morning, as the ascent to the crater is about 3.5 miles long. The expedition can continue down the west side trail and terminate 10 to 12 miles later in Chateaubelair on the leeward (west) side. There are gazebos, washrooms, a site office and parking at Bamboo Range on the eastern side of the volcano.
It took me 2 hours at a good pace to go up and 1h30 to come down. Bring a small backpack with fruits, lots of water, a lunch or picnic perhaps. Always go accompagnied with a local qualified guide. Do not forget your insect repellent (DEET), your camera, a good pair of hiking shoes, a walking stick, a Gatorade or a drink to help you recuperate some of the salts being sweated out. Be sure to verify the weather before heading out. If chances of rain, do not attempt to go up as mud, rock slides occur and are quite dangerous. Remember that this is an active volcano, so be on alert for unsual loud sounds... but do enjoy rest periods when necessary and if a nice Rasta man offers you a delicious coconut, take it and drive that truly caribbean gem.
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