Day 3 - Grand Etang

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Wed 8 Jul 2009 22:48


Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve

We started the day at the Interpretation Centre at Grand Etang. We had been told to take a bag of fruit and lay it out on the fence and a troop of Mona Monkeys would come to feast. We had also been told that if we looked as though we were going to steal the fruit they would give us a good slap. Looking forward to this I asked my Captain to do his "Monkey Whispering" as he had been so successful with the tortoises in Guadeloupe, but despite his "Wooooooooooo Woooooooooooooooaaaaing" nothing happened. I think they are deaf and I had no help whatsoever from my compatriot. So we went to sit by Lake Etang for a picnic.
Grand Etang Lake, The picnic supervisor and our little hire car.


The most popular area in Grenada for hiking and trekking is undoubtedly the rainforest around the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, high up in the mountains of the island's interior. Grand Etang's varied elevations and terrains maintain several different ecological subsystems, culminating in the elfin woodlands high up the slopes of the reserve's central mountains. The focal point of the forest reserve is Grand Etang Lake, which fills the crater of one of the island's extinct volcanoes. The rainforest around the lake holds a stupendously rich diversity of flora and fauna. Colourful tropical birds, tiny frogs and lizards, and rare orchids punctuate the dense rainforest vegetation, and the trails meander around the area's stunning waterfalls as well as the azure waters of Grand Etang Lake.

Grand Etang's flora includes towering mahogany and giant gommier trees as well as a multitude of ferns, tropical flowers, and other indigenous plants. The lush vegetation provides shelter for a wide variety of animals, particularly for the island's many species of birds. The broad-winged hawk (known here as the gree-gree), Lesser Antillean swift, Antillean euphonia, purple-throated carib, Antillean crested hummingbird (known as the little doctor bird), and the Lesser Antillean tanager (known as the soursop) are all common sights. In addition, the Grand Etang is populated by plenty of frogs and lizards, as well as playing host to opossums, armadillos, mongooses, and the mona monkey.

Hikes at Grand Etang range from easy 15-minute jaunts to rigorous expeditions of several hours. The trails are quite good, and the Forest Reserve provides excellent guides (both written and human). The reserve's hikes include:





Honeymoon Falls




The Morne LaBaye Trail
This brief and easy walk takes about fifteen minutes.


The Ridge and Lake Circle Trail
The Lake Circle Trail takes about half an hour, winds down to and around the perimeter of Grand Etang Lake. In addition to outstanding views of the lake itself this trail wends down through trees bedecked with hibiscus and the island's many varieties of wild orchids, which grow on the trees for support.


Mt. Qua Qua Trail
One of the central mountains of Grenada's interior range, Mt. Qua Qua rises to a height of over 2,370 ft. The trail to and along its ridge passes by Grand Etang Lake and then rises up to the higher altitudes, cooler temperatures and elfin mountain forests of the upper slopes. Hiking the trail takes about an hour and a half, with frequently steep and sometimes slippery sections that require some caution. One of the primary attractions of this walk, in addition to the panoramic prospects available from its occasional clearings, is that it provides a comprehensive introduction to the varied plant and animal life of both the rainforest and mountain ecosystems of Grand Etang.





Lower two of the Seven Sisters



Seven Sisters Trail
So named because it passes by seven of Grand Etang's beautiful mountain waterfalls, which are nestled in the profuse emerald vegetation of the rainforest. The trail takes about three hours, even for experienced hikers, but for those who are up to it the Seven Sisters is well worth the effort. Starting in an area of banana and nutmeg cultivation, the trail quickly plunges into some of the most attractive virgin forest on the island. As this hike can be difficult a guide is recommended.





Fedon's Mountain & Concord Falls
Advanced hikers and trekkers (not us) should not forego the opportunity to take these two more substantial hikes, which link to the Mt. Qua Qua Trail in Grand Etang. The Concord Falls trail branches off from the Mt. Qua Qua Trail after about an hour, leading down through rainforest canopy, over hilltops and gurgling brooks, to bring you to the triple cascades of the Concord Falls. The lowest of the three is a very popular swimming area, camping spot, and tourist attraction, with modern facilities surrounding its generous swimming area. The upper falls, about twenty minutes' hike up the river, are definitely worth the short walk, as they are much less visited and even more beautiful. The 40 ft/12 m cascade plunges down through the thick vegetation to an inviting pool that offers a much more tranquil swim than you will find at the lower falls. The third and uppermost of the three cascades of Concord Falls lies considerably higher up the mountain and requires about two hours further hiking.

Branching off from the Concord Falls Trail before it reaches the cascades is the short but demanding path leading up to the cave-like recess of Fedon's Camp. The camp was the strategic base of Julien Fedon, a Grenadian of French origins who led a slave uprising against the British in 1765. This well-maintained but arduous trail takes you deep into the very heart of the Grand Etang rainforest, through shady groves mahogany, teak, and many of Grenada's other tree species. Giant ferns and birdlife abound here, including the green-throated carib and the yellow-billed cuckoo.

A guide is recommended for both the Fedon's Mountain and the Concord Falls treks.





Levera National Park
The 450-acre Levera National Park is Grenada's most scenic and spectacular coastal area. Its picture-perfect beach is popular at weekends, and its lagoon is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the island. Consisting of an extensive mangrove swamp, the lagoon is a haven for an abundance of bird species, including herons, black-necked stilts and common snipes. Levera's marine areas have outstanding coral reefs and sea grass beds that shelter lobsters, beautiful reef fishes. The beaches are also a hatchery for sea turtles, which are protected from May to September (own blog).







Lake Antoine National Landmark
This shallow crater lake, like Grand Etang, is host to a wide variety of wildlife. The lake's perimeter trail, a beautiful walk in itself, is another of Grenada's excellent attractions for birdwatchers. Among the species frequently sighted are the snail kite, the fulvous whistling-duck, large-billed seed-finch, gray kingbird and limpkin.