Friday, April 26, 2013

Champagne Beach and Boiling Lake

Greetings All,
Our trip to Dominica is coming to an end.  Heavy rain continued to plague us during most of our stay but we managed to get a few more activities in.  On Tuesday we visited Champagne Beach.

The draw here is the unique opportunity to swim through bubbles caused by gas escaping from underwater vents. We pretty much had the beach to ourselves and with a snorkel, fins and my trusty life jacket set off to explore the bay.  There were many colorful fish, yellow tube sponges, spiky sea urchins, fan corrals and an eel.  I wish we had an underwater camera to capture some of the beautiful creatures that live here.  Marc managed to photograph some of the bubbles with my point and shoot.

After snorkeling, we went whale watching out of Roseau.  We grabbed front row seats and pulled out our cameras and binoculars.  We were ready but where were the whales?  We searched for four hours cruising along the shore of Dominica, first south than north, but we didn't spot a whale or even a dolphin.  Marc had to settle for photographing flying fish.

We returned to the dock an hour late, just as the lights of Roseau flickered on.

A couple of days ago we took a short hike on the Glasse Trail.  The trail used to be a road that was used by fisherman to get their boats into the Atlantic.  After a few too many hurricanes, the village decided to abandon fishing.  The trail led down through rainforest to the coast.  The Atlantic Ocean crashed against the rugged cliffs.  There were a few pools carved out of volcanic rock.  

A small flock of White-tailed Tropicbirds soared around the cliffs where they were nesting.  Dr. Birdy tried to show us these birds when we were on our birding tour but they weren't around.

Since the chance of hiking to Victoria Falls was slim (there's still too much water in the river) we decided to try our luck at whale watching again.  With a 80% change of seeing whales we couldn't be unlucky two days in a row.  We grabbed our front row seats again and had high hopes but after several attempts to pick up the whale's clicks on the hydro phone we knew our chances were diminishing.  I had given up hope of seeing anything when a woman pointed out tiny brown fins in the water.  I caught a glimpse and Marc missed them entirely.  They dove down and we did not see them again.  According to the crew they were Pygmy Killer Whales.  Although not the sperm whales we were hoping to see, they were a new species for me.  We headed back to Roseau which was in the clear but the mountains remained cloaked in clouds

Yesterday was our last full day on Dominica.  We saved the best for last, a 6-hour hike to the Valley of Desolation and the Boiling Lake.  We set out at 7:30 and drove for a hour and a half.  It had rained during the night but appeared to be clearing up.  We had high hopes as we set out with our guide, a French couple and another couple from the US.  We climbed log stairs through rainforest then down again to cross a river.  We could hop across on rocks.  As we climbed higher, it started to rain in earnest.  We gave up trying to keep our boots dry and splashed on through water that now flowed down the trail.  We caught a glimpse of the steam rising from the Boiling Lake  below us.  The lake is a flooded volcanic fumarole heated by gas and molten magma beneath the Earth's crust.  Look closely between the rain drops.  The Valley of Desolation is the barren area on the right and you can just make out the steam from the Boiling Lake on the left.  

We started our decent into the Valley of Desolation and were met by another French couple and their guide that had passed us earlier.  Why were they returning?  With all this rain their guide felt it too dangerous to continue.  Carlos, our guide agreed that the threat of a landslide had become too great to risk.  I looked forlornly at The Valley of Desolation and knew it was the right call.

We headed back down and reached the river crossing.  The water had risen and the others in front of us were crossing on a tree that had fallen over the river!  I followed them, sitting on the tree and skooching across on my butt.  The vines snagged my shorts and scratched my legs but we made it across.

Trenches cut along the trail keep a lot of water off the trail but it was still slippery and you had to watch every step.

We finally returned to the truck and wrapped ourselves in yellow beach towels for the long drive back to the lodge in the open back of the truck.  Despite all the rain we had a good trip.  Dominica is a fascinating place to visit.  We'll return one day to give whale watching another try, to get to the Boiling Lake and to visit the tiny tree frogs that sang us to sleep every night. 

We're on our way to Puerto Rico now.  We hope it isn't as wet!
We hope all is well back home,
Peggy and Marc

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Marc, Great shot of the flying fish....since it was so wet on your of a flying fish and a frog seem appropriate....Thanks for sharing. Fred J.