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Trafalgar - A travel report by Xeres
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Trafalgar,  Dominica - flag Dominica -  Saint George
2047 readers

orlen's travel reports

Beauty Without Sting

  10 votes
As the last Caribbean island to be colonized, Dominica escaped much exploitation from the Europeans and it's rain forests and waterfalls remain pristine and intact. A lucky circumstance for tourists

Trafalgar Falls
Trafalgar Falls
The lush and green surrounds the small town of Trafalgar. It is one of the most harmless rainforests in the world (no dangerous animals or plants), with beauty to match that of other jungles.
Surprisingly I found that Trafalgar and surrounding towns are not at all touristy, and the majority of Dominicans in this region aren’t even directly involved in the tourism industry.
This has a two word cause: Cruise Ships. Almost everyday in January and December, a cruise ship docks in Roseau (the capital) and disgorges oodles of tourists onto tour buses, which then travel inland to see a few places and leave. The buses don’t stop in towns, and the Dominican park staff don’t allow vendors to set up shop inside the parks. As a result many locals don’t have too much contact with foreigners.

As I relaxed outside, after a day of hiking and sightseeing, I had to pinch myself. It occurred to me, that I had not a single bug bite on my entire body. It was amazing, I was completely astounded. This inexplicable phenomenon continued for the rest of my trip.

Favourite spots:
Valley of Desolation
Valley of Desolation
My favourite spot would have to be Trafalgar Falls.
A twenty minute hike took me to a viewing platform from which the two waterfalls could be observed. Along the way, I spotted numerous birds, such as the yellow Bananaquit, and the Green throated hummingbird (his colour is obvious). From the platform, the trail descended towards the base of the larger and more elegant waterfall, where a natural swimming pool is situated. The trail crossed a stream, where a pair of jean shorts where lying on a rock. The owner of the shorts was nowhere in site. I continued on to the waterfall, and sat down to contemplate the falling water.
The site was like a postcard, it was extraordinarily scenic, so much so that it is featured on the $5 bill. On my way back, I met the occupants of the shorts; a local man whom had been bathing in a hidden hot spring. He showed me where it was, and I went to take a look. Secluded, with steaming water the colour of caramel, it looked like a perfect place to bathe.

What's really great:
Valley of Desolation: Image 2
Valley of Desolation: Image 2
The Valley of Desolation was incredible. It was hard to believe that I hadn’t been kidnapped and taken to an other planet. The steep multicoloured valley walls rose above steaming and bubbling pools of mud. It was as if the earth itself had decided to party, the dirt and rocks were a variety of hues, and the small streams and pools ran the gamut of colours from white to purple.

The valley isn’t really desolate; plants thrive, just not anything big (trees are no where to be seen). It’s a great reward after hiking for two hours, and there are even Hotsprings in which it is safe to relax your muscles. It is advisable to take a guide, but if you don’t be very careful. One wrong step and your leg will break the crust, and plunge into water up to 140 degrees Celcius.

There are many sights in the vicinity of Trafalgar. Most of them involve hiking, and all involve nature. One great hike went to Middleham Falls. The tallest waterfall in Dominica, it was reached after I hour of hiking. I had intended to go swimming in the natural pool at its base, but upon coming close, I decided it looked to cold and forbidding.
Emerald Pool, lies to the north. Dominica’s most popular tourist attraction, it’s hard to see why. The waterfall is a pushover compared to Middleham and Trafalgar, and the pool is of equal quality to that of Trafalgar. So its slightly green, big deal. I went when there wasn’t a cruise ship in port, and it was still over crowded.
Freshwater Lake on the other hand, is a great destination. The forest here abounds in massive tree ferns, and oversized moss. A trail circumnavigates the lake, I failed to complete it as it was getting late, but a quick look convinced me of its merits.

I stayed at the Pappiote Wilderness Resort, slightly outside Trafalgar. It wasn’t extremely expensive (about 130 U.S. a night) but no hostel either. The rooms were unremarkable, and the tap water undrinkable (luckily the hotel provides massive bottles of drinkable water, free of charge). What was great was the grounds, a garden of tropical plants, containing many specimens such as water resistant shrubs, and leaves which curl up when they’re touched. A true delight. A sizable waterfall is even included on the property, as are garden tours. But the most amazing thing about this place was the hot pools. Several outdoor hot tubs, heated naturally, are situated around property. After a hard day of hiking, soaking in one of these is perfect. Oh.. I forgot to mention, there’s no phone or television, just you and the rainforest.

Bars are virtually nonexistent in interior Dominica. One tourist aimed place, the River Rock was all I saw, and there were few customers. Apparently there are socials, and private parties at least once a week, but outsiders aren’t likely to get invited.

Nightlife comes mainly in the form of bats and nocturnal birds, which swoop and dive after bugs. The bats especially where omnipresent, fleeting glimpses around dusk were a given every night.

This isn’t part of the stereotype, but rain forests are very noisy at night. Bugs and birds, and who knows what create what some may call a symphony, but when you’re trying to sleep, it’s just irritating.

Stargazing, is very good in Trafalgar, except the mountains block panoramic views of the sky. But for a city dweller like me, it was overwhelming to see stars filled every reach of available space overhead.

View down to the sea
View down to the sea
My favourite hangout was Trafalgar Falls. Early in the morning, before the cruise ship groups arrive, it is most peaceful, with many confidently placed rocks for sitting on. I personally find watching water to be a relaxing activity, so this worked well for me.

Another great place to hangout is at the many viewpoints along the road. In some places the whole road is a view point, with sight extending all the way, down rolling green mountains to the coast, or up rolling green mountains into the centre. At a few of these viewpoints, local vendors have placed roadside stalls, selling local wares. The prices are a rip off, but the vendors aren’t pushy and are delighted to talk to you, even if you don’t buy their stuff. For many it was a sideline, not their main breadwinner, so they where relaxed. Caution, do not look at the beautiful views when driving, may cause accidents.

When in Trafalgar, you’re pretty much confined to whatever restaurant your hotel has. I saw one restaurant in the entire region, which wasn’t part of a hotel. That being said, the restaurant at the Pappiote was quite good, not the best I’ve ever tasted, but the chefs where competent. One disadvantage to this restaurant is the lack of choice, the menu is small; compact some might say. Luckily the food your limited too is local Creole style meat and sauces, and local fruits and vegetables. The food here gives you a good idea of traditional Dominican cuisine. In a nod to western tourists, a few favorites, such as a club sandwich have been included on the menu. The restaurant is moderately expensive; expect to pay this price for any tourist oriented restaurant any where in Dominica.

Other recommendations:
Honk when you drive on mountain roads!! Everyone does it, locals and tourists alike. The roads have one lane, and there are many blind corners. The only way to know is some car is going to come speeding round the bend is if you honk. Dominicans prefer a series of short honks to the single long ones preferred in the United States and Canada.

If you go to Dominica, I recommended you reserve a day to walk around the capital; Roseau. Many examples of Creole architecture, dating at least a hundred years old, can be found within a short area in this city,

Published on Tuesday January 6th, 2009

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Wed, Jan 07 2009 - 08:55 AM rating by davidx

It's hard to believe that this is your first report. It fully deserves 5* in its own right. I'm sure it will not be your last and i am really looking forward to reading a lot ore from you.

Wed, Jan 07 2009 - 04:54 AM rating by bineba

This is a wonderful report, full of insight and humour and information.

Well done.

Tue, Jan 06 2009 - 11:43 PM rating by mistybleu

Great report, nice picture of the flower.

Tue, Jan 06 2009 - 07:27 PM rating by krisek

Xeres, thank you for a great report! Excellent for the first time. It brought back some great memories. I stayed up north, on the western coast...

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