Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rental Car Guadeloupe - Day Three Parc National De La Guadeloupe

Rental car day three breakfast - beef and smoked chicken

Sunday May 17th 2015
We once again headed for Basse-Terre to do some more hiking.  However, one of the main roads was blocked by police.  There seemed to be some sort of even going on.  We saw tons and tons of bicyclists so we guessed maybe time trials for an upcoming race.  Cycling is big on Guadeloupe and Martinique, with their own island races - Tour de Guadeloupe, Tour de Martinique and such.  Everyday we see many serious riders training.  Impressive given the fact that Basse-Terre is so mountainous and that the roads are narrow, often with no shoulder.  *The next day we learned it was auto racing - like drag racing for souped up street cars.    
Trail down to waterfall


The money shot
Anyway, we followed the "deviation"  aka detour signs but more importantly the rest of the cars "deviating" and found our way along towards Chutes du Carbet - 3 waterfalls, specifically "Trois Chaute" (number 3).  Once again, the road in was crazy narrow and winding.  The trails themselves in the Parc De La National Guadeloupe are magnificent.  Built solid and well maintained.  Really quite impressive.  It was a good hike with some up and down until we neared the end.  At this point we had to traverse down a steep hill side.  The footholds where well established on the rocks and in the tree roots.  There was a rope off to the starboard side to assist with the assent but I found the tree roots more assuring.  The reward was a fabulous waterfall 22 meters (66ft) high and crystal clear pool just right for a refreshing swim.  I was startled when I accidental swallowed a bit of water - Ohhhh fresh water!  I am so used to accidental gulps of salt water as I swim.  The hike out was just as lovely under the shady rainforest canopy of huge mahogany trees, giant palms and philodendrons, ferns, vines and such to the songs of various birds.
Kewl'd off Wildcats

Nearly back to the car

Then we drove around to another spot to hike to "Chaute de Cabet - Deux" (number 2).  Again, crazy narrow road in and spectacular trail.  This one really got our hearts pumping as we descended down into the valley via hundreds of steps built into the walls of the valley.  We were not able to get all the way to number two but to a viewing platform close enough for pics.  This waterfall is 110 (330 ft) meters high.  Wow!  The hike back out had us feeling all our leg muscles.  

Trail head to Deux Chaute
Start of trail - nice


The climb out - hundreds of steps

We decided a late lunch and a soak in one of the hot springs would be good.  However, we forgot that most businesses are close up on Sunday afternoon so it was tough to find anything that was open.  Finally in the actual town of Basse-Terre, near Marina de Rivière Sens, we found a guy by the side of the road selling smoked chicken parts.  I say parts because we couldn't quite figure out what part - they seemed like a chicken legs but way too big.... hum?  Then we went in search of the thermal springs at Matouba.  We searched and searched but we never could find it.  The French seem to hide their thermal springs well.  So instead we drove the coastal roads around the south end of Basse-Terre back around towards Pointe a Pitre, taking it all in as we went.  We hit the tailend of a traffic jam caused by the earlier car racing but it wasn't too bad.  Thank goodness Tom was driving our manual shift rental car in the stop and go....on a hill traffic.
Volcano Soufriere with it's own clouds

Leaving Saint Sauveur
Note - In most American towns and cities, you will find a "Welcome" sign as you enter and a "Thank you for coming"  or "Now leaving Anytown USA" sign.  Not here.  You see the town/village name when you enter and then the same sign when you leave but it's crossed through with a red slash.  This struck us as funny but I guess it saves $$.

Note - During our time in Guadeloupe, we saw many people with tatooes of the actual island of Guadeloupe - the shape of island like you would see on a map or chart.  Many times it said "Gwada", a local nickname, of Guadeloupe.  We also saw people wearing necklaces and chains (the men) with island shape.  There seems to be great pride among the people of Guadeloupe and they show it.

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