Sunday, September 27, 2015

Trafalgar Falls

On Saturday, Peace Corps Volunteers from across the island of Dominica met in the capital city of Roseau for an outing to Trafalgar Falls. Actually, these are two separate but nearby waterfalls, the tallest being over 200 feet high and the other over 100 feet high. It was my first "touristy" activity since arriving here on August 1. The members of last year's class had previously visited Trafalgar, but the torrential downpours from Tropical Storm Erika had drastically changed the landscape at these twin waterfalls, so it made an interesting destination for our first joint outing.
You can see the shorter of the two waterfalls behind me.
Once our driver met us, we left the downtown area by way of the Botanical Garden. He was pointing out some interesting sights as we drove along, but then pulled off next to a half-flattened school bus. A huge tree had been blown over during Hurricane David in 1979 (see my previous story about "my storm") crushing the bus, which has been preserved and is now an iconic memorial to all that was lost in that tragic storm.

Our driver/tour guide was very entertaining, and told us to hold off taking any pictures because something was missing. He quickly hopped out of our van, ran over to the crushed bus, and jumped through the glass-less window of the driver's seat so we could take our bus pictures with our bus driver.

Our tour guide pretending he just got his bus crushed.
Soon we were heading eastward out of the city and into the nearby mountains. I enjoyed seeing this new territory--just like on my normal route to the capital, it was easy to see the landslides that had occurred during Erika, because they are still being cleaned up. The road twisted and turned, passing one of their hydroelectric power stations fed by a long pipe from a lake higher in the mountains.

We arrived at the parking area for Trafalgar and took the trail back through the woods. It was somewhat reminiscent to me of Blackwater Falls in my home state of West Virginia, especially when we arrived at a wooden viewing platform. However, instead of just a single waterfall to view, two long beautiful ones cascaded over their precipices and splashed on the rocks below, producing a melodious sound in this otherwise quiet valley.

In this shot, you can see both of the falls, as well as the boulder field.
In the old days, there used to be designated hiking trails leading to both of the falls. Unfortunately, during Erika the rocky hillside on the upstream side gave way, filling the valley with a boulder field. What had been an easy hike under a canopy of trees is now an adventure sport as one tries to navigate up, down, and around all the rocks, ranging from football-sized rocks to car size boulders.

We decided to head towards the smaller waterfall first, and our group worked our way down from the viewing platform. It didn't take long for us to start experimenting with our own desired paths, because it seemed that all the rocks were about the same. However, as some of my colleagues tended to follow the firs stream downhill to where it joined the stream coming from our target waterfall, I decided I did not want to lose elevation and then need to regain it. Thus I took a more lateral path across the boulder field.

In this view looking down the valley, Chris (from last year's class) is resting beside a pool, plus a few others can be seen on the opposite side.
I enjoyed the challenge of picking your path across the rocks. It was a bit of a mental chess game, as you tried to visualize your best path based on what you could see, and then tried to predict what might be the best path through the parts ahead that you couldn't see. A few times I had to back out of one option in order to try another, but it was all fun. [I'm sure the Peace Corps staff is glad to read that there were a few times when I used some discretion and avoided taking any risky chances! Sometimes I think they question my sanity!]
This is “Pepper,” our tour guide/bus driver, who did an excellent job.
Eventually we all arrived at a crystal clear pool at the base of the first waterfall. After scrambling across the boulder field, we had a great time frolicking in the cool water. I enjoyed backing into the pounding shower where the water fell into the pool--it was like nature's version of a shower message.

After conquering the first fall, we headed up towards the second one. Once again, we had to pick and choose our path to this higher waterfall. Personally, I thought the pool at the shorter waterfall was better (and easier to access). However, the interesting thing about the second waterfall was that a hot water spring joined it as it drained down the hillside. There is something about knowing that this water had been heated by the magma under the earth's crust that made me want to touch it. However, it was already a hot day, so I chose not to spend much time playing in the hot water.

The hot water seeped in on the left side of this waterfall, leaving an orange sulfurous mud on the rocks.
We ended our excursion with an impromptu lunch at the viewing platform before heading back to town. Everyone seemed to have a great time! While I love my village and its surroundings, I'm looking forward to visiting more tourist attractions on "the nature island" of Dominica over my two year stint. Plus, spending time with my Peace Corps colleagues is always nice!


  1. What a great story & pics. Very special memory for you & your cohorts to treasure!

  2. Your blog article is really very nicely described which will definitely help the readers who want to do track on Trafalgar Falls. Please keep sharing more info.

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