Climbing an actively volcanic mountain higher than Ben Nevis need not be difficult.Climbing La Soufriere is certainly one of the must do things in Guadeloupe, offering a lot of reward for minimal effort. If you are ever on this Caribbean island I strongly recommend hiring a car as public transport is very limited. Once equipped with four wheels, you can drive to St Claud, on the Basse Terre side of the island. From here you take a steep narrow and winding road into the forest to Bains Jaunes (a bath fed by warm water running off of the volcanic mountain). From here you will be just 325 metres below the summit of La Soufriere. After parking your car, follow a paved and well signposted path through the forest. You soon rise out from the trees to face the bare top of La Soufriere. From here the path up the mountain becomes rugged and progressively steeper. However, it is very well maintained (even with a wooden staircase at one point). Great views can be had over the coast of the southern regions of Basse Terre along the way. After about 95 minutes you will reach the summit, where a well marked circular path takes you past the gaping mouth of the volcano, exuding a smelly sulphurous vapour, and a small concrete refuge. The surrounding plant life, influenced by the sulphurous fumes, is fascinating. Particularly note the red moss! Even if your view from the top of the mountain is obscured by cloud, the climb is worth it to see this volcanic landscape. Final tips:
- Bring some water - even at this altitude it can still be hot (you are more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion than hyperthermia).
- Bring a thin waterproof coat - it is more than likely to rain some time on your journey (especially in summer)
- Wear walking shoes or trainers - the path is rugged towards the top
- Bring swim wear and a towel to enjoy a dip in the Bains Jaunes.