We started out early to have plenty of time to take photos. Subtle early light filtered through jungle canopy as we left the trailhead and lovely Titou Gorge behind. Finally, for the first time ever, we were on our way to the Boiling Lake, perhaps the most famous, but also one of toughest hikes in Dominica.
Nahjie, my friend and adventure guide from JustGoDominica.com dictated the pace of our “walk.” As the hike is quite lengthy, and at times arduous, it was important to manage our energy, preserving enough for a safe return. Along the trail, the incredible views filled us with wonder, but when we descended into Valley of Desolation, a truly magical world opened up before us, like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Beneath our feet, hot water splashed out from under white volcanic rocks. In some areas, boiling water hissed and sulphur steam surrounded us. We painted our faces with volcanic mud, and looked like native warriors. Then Nahjie demonstrated how useful these hot pools can be. In a dozen minutes, our uncooked eggs became hard boiled for lunch. Delicious!
Time was passing quickly and we had to continue on our path. While the amazing views and the awesome valley strongly impressed me, wonderful little gems started to appear along the trail. Colourful mineral pools, consisting of shades of yellows, oranges and whites mixed with the black liquid carbon that oozed to the surface. The greens of the lush mosses, that looked like little sparkles on jewellery blended with emerald mineral deposits in yet another pool.
Another spot brought to mind the beautiful dwarfed world of Fairy Glen from the Scottish Isle of Skye: a small-scale waterfall splashing to a tiny pool below, full of opal-white volcanic water. Set amidst orange rocks and some more greenery, it seemed the perfect place for a gathering of elves! And then – another surprise: a miniature wall of cracked rocks between two streams. It looked like a miniature of the Colorado mountains, but with a twist of the hot white water. Soooo amazing !
We had to push on and in just fifteen minutes we arrived at the Boiling Lake. At last! Closed in by hot, sulphur-smelling, dense steam, we could not see a thing. I could only hear loud sounds – like big pumps working at maximum speed. Bubbling and hissing noises seemed to come from huge amounts of water pushing off the surface in the centre of the lake. With a sudden shift of wind, it all became clear. Thick grey boiling water circulated at a crazy speed. I could only imagine some enormous power stirring it all. That’s no place for boiling eggs! This natural roiling cauldron demanded respect.
A strange looking, steaming hot river flowed down the hill from the lake, rushing between orange and white rocks. It was actually the White River, which leads to the beautiful Victoria Falls, one of my most beloved spots in Dominica.
I delighted in taking plenty of photos, but after a short while, we reluctantly left to go back the way we came. It took some time as I suddenly felt tired, just when we needed to hike the steep hills within the Valley of Desolation. However, we made it, and considered the outing a great success.
What an extraordinary hike! Definitely longer and tougher than most. But packed with beautiful moments and views. An experience of a lifetime that I highly recommend when visiting the Nature Island.
Derek Galon is a multi-award winning photographer/videographer with decades of experience. He relocated to Dominica from Canada in 2014 and is continually discovering the beauty of the Nature Island.