Dominica, Section 3 of the Waitukubuli

From where yachts anchor in the Castle Comfort area, Section 3 of the Waitikubuli Trail runs south-north a couple of miles inland. The road to the trailhead is easily covered by bus. The whole trail from Bellevue Chopin to Wotten Waven takes about 6 hours at a reasonable pace. You need to take a bus going east from Loubiere. If you dinghy down to Aldive and leave your dinghy there, the road east is just a short walk to your south towards the other end of the village. Ask to be dropped off at Bellevue Chopin and look for the trail markers. You can also just do the prettier half of the hike by taking a bus to Giraudel and starting from there. This is a loop road. Walk south from Castle Comfort to where the gas stations are, take the road heading inland and wait for a bus. Ask to get off in Giraudel.

This trail goes through quite a few villages and uses minor roads and feeder roads much of the way, with linking trails through the interior. We did this hike with Sea Cat, who seemed to know everyone we met along the say. At Bellevue there is a point on the road where you can see right down onto Roseau. A few steps east, the road to trail is marked and takes you north. For a while you are on a small country road, and will pass an organic farm and composting place on your left. They offer tours, if someone is around you can pick up a flyer and consider coming back another day for that. The road continues on for a long way getting smaller and less travelled the further you go. The countryside is scenic and rural. Towards the end of the road you go into the forest and onto the trail which takes you down a moderate valley and up the other side. There is a seasonal river at the bottom. You climb up and rejoin the road in Giraudel, a village known for its flowers. You soon come to a junction where you can turn uphill or downhill, both part of the trail. Downhill has great views of the distant sea and is a little shorter. It also carries you past several tiny rum shop snack places where you will be able to find a soft drink and meat patty or some such for lunch. You continue on along tiny country roads with good views over the surrounding hills and eventually come to trail shelter on the edge of a very deep and wild looking rain-forest valley. Sea Cat disappeared for a short while and came back with walking sticks – almost essential on this steep and often slippery decent which takes you hundreds of feet down to the Claire River. The river is a good time to take a break, find a nice spot, and jump in to cool off and get refreshed for the steep ascent to follow. Although walking uphill takes a little more energy, it is often easier than going downhill, and it will not seem so far before you come out in the lovely little agricultural village of Morne Prosper with its green fields set against the steep mountains. After a gentle climb along the road you come onto the trail and it is all downhill to Wotten Waven. Wooten Waven is of course the village of hot springs so take a break here in a hot pool and relax all those tired muscles before taking a bus back down to Roseau. We walked a short way to Ti Kwen Glo Cho, which was delightful. They had a garden walk taking you to a hot pool in one direction and waterfalls in another. They also had a really funny collection of old bathtubs all fed with hot water.