Hiking Volcano Mount Limiaga, St Kitt’s
As I was suprised to learn on my trip to St. Kitts, one of the main attractions of the island was to climb the dormant volcano, Liamuiga, on its’ the north-west coast. I had no idea that this West Indie island, which lies on both the Carribbean and Atlantic seas, was packed with adventure! Our group (five feisty gals) winded our way around the island’s narrow roads with our Rastafarian guide Oneil Mulraine of Oneil Tours. Rail thin, I wouldn’t have known our intrepid guide was nearing the mid-century age point, save for the grey hairs on his long beard and reggae vernacular. We took a pit-stop from our jeep to the Black Rocks, an agglomeration of ashy rocks created by the lava flow of Mount Liamuiga’s last eruption 1600 years ago. The backdrop provided for some stunning pictures and a chance to mix with the locals selling jewelry and snacks at the lone BlackRock Pub. After the mandatory bathroom break at Rawlins Plantation (a good place for a post-hike drink), we ascended upon the volcano, its base already the site of the Kittian Hill property development slated to open in 2012.
The speedy Gonzales that he is, Oneil, a herbalist and expert in bush medicine, rapidly led us on our bush walk through the lush rainforest, pointing out and explaining the myriad assortment of trees, plants and flowers. We were able to pace ourselves after we vocalized Oneil to slow down. As we became more immersed into the forest, I felt as if I was on the set of Tomb Raider without the temples. We were surrounded by Banyan trees, with its leathery vines wrapped around its base; viper trees, their flying buttresses hollow, used to store water and echo sounds made with our budges (walking stick). Taking small breaks of water and Gatorade, we learned of maho, Spanish ash, heart of palm (used in salads), and the mimosa. Also known as the “sensitive plant” or “touch me not” plant, we were mesmerized when its ferns would close off into a cocoon-like state with a touch or wave of the hand.
As we continued the round trip of the six mile hike, swinging over logs, climbing rocks and pushing ourselves up to our goal of 3,000 feet (the highest point is close to 4,000 feet), we could feel the pressure. The hike is advertised as for “the fit and experienced hiker” only, but if you are in moderate physical shape, with a guide and pace yourself, you can conquer this quest. I had not been to the gym in months (think “six-roll”, not “six-pack”) and felt a rush of invigoration as I side-stepped and paced my way up the volcano. That being said, our group prepared with water, lunch and granola bars, generously provided by our hotel, The St. Kitts Marriott, as well as the appropriate gear. Most of the girls wore shorts, but I was glad I made the decision to wear leggings, useful for when I slipped on the mud was or needed to slide my way down rock instead when we descended to our starting point.
On the last scramble up the rocks after 2 hours of hiking, we finally mounted our way to the peak, Oneil patiently assisting our group one by one, up a vertical boulder with minimal rope. We maneuvered ourselves on the narrow patch we had for lunch, breathing in the fresh air of our natural surroundings, and further navigating ourselves to a lone rock for views of the coast and pictures with our knowledgeable and wily guide. I’ll admit I was nervous of conquering a volcano, but being able to see the ash and look down and around the plant and tree species of the island was a notable and unexpected achievement, not to mention the highlight of my trip.
The St. Kitt’s Marriot Hotel is currently promoting their Escape! Attraction Package (Minimum 4â€night stay). It includes:
• Island tour for two, including entrance to Brimstone Hill Fortress (per room)
• $200 credit per room, to be used toward tours of choice including the Mount Liamuiga Volcano Hike, Brimstone Hill Fortress, or Zip Lining.
*Tours must be arranged through hotel tour desk
• Daily breakfast buffet for two (excludes room service)
• Welcome gift delivered to room upon arrival
• Room tax and gratuities for housekeeping & bellman
This offer ends on December 18, 2010. Please refer to the promotional code ARN when making a reservation.
For more information on this package and accommodation options, please visit The St. Kitt’s Marriott official site at:
Mt. Liamuiga tour prices from Oneil Tours are: $90 USD; $65 USD for rainforest only tours. Oneil is best contacted by email at [email protected] for more information.
Optional Tour Outfitter: Gregsafaris.com
Author Note: This trip was sponsored by St. Kitts Marriot Resort & The Royal Beach Casino.