Guadeloupe is a fascinating archipelago of islands. The main island is divided in two parts called Basse Terre and Grande Terre. They look like the two wings of a butterfly and are joined together by a mangrove swamp. Grande terre has a string of beaches that offer tourists marvelous stretches of sand while the mountainous Basse terre is home to the wonderful Guadeloupe National Park which is crowned by the spectacular La Soufriere volcano. Guadeloupe fully belongs to France and has the status of an oversea department (department outre mer). The currency is euro.
The island capital is Pointe-à-Pitre and is very ugly. We have only spent there some hours and left it quickly.
We have climbed the La Soufriere volcano. The way up took ca. two hours through tropical vegetation and along waterfalls. The summit is usually covered by clouds and mist. We were lucky that eventually the clouds opened we could have a wonderful sight into the valley. On the summit you can see and smell a lot of fumaroles which are witness of the active volcano. Large areas on the summit are closed because the sulfur concentration in the air is too high.
Next day we have visited the amazing botanical garden ‚Jardin des Haies‘. The garden is laid out wonderfully. Right at the entrance you reach a very nice lake with hundreds of koi fishes. Further on, you can feed the parrots in the cage, however it is a strange feeling to keep a parrot in your hand. And they prick too. Past huge trees and plants we came to a lovely landscaped waterfall where flamingos search for food in the swallow water. Wild orchids grow on a tree trunk. We have been impressed about the wonderful botanical garden. It is one of the nicest we have ever seen. From the garden you can see the Montserrat isalnd which has been evacuated after a terricific vulcano erruption ca 20 years ago.
It is a pity that we saw this Botanical garden at the beginning of our trip. It could not be topped anymore.
Another absolute highlight on Basse Terre is the beach Malendure and the Pigeon Island. This a Mecca for divers and snorkelers. The famous French scientist Jacques Cousteau brought the Pigeon Island to interntional attention by declaring it one of the top dive sites worldwide. There are large coral reefs and fish swarms and the water is swallow enough for wonderful snorkeling. In this place it was the only time during this trip that my wife Regina snorkeled. Aftrewards we have been delighted by a breathtaking sundown. The sun goes down exactly between the two Pigeon Islands. Gorgeous! We have savoured a local Ti Punch (rhum with limette and cane syrup).
The other wing of the butterfly is Grande Terre and is relatively flat with a lot of wonderful beaches. The easternmost point is Pointe des Chateaux. This dramatic coastal area has white sand beaches, limestone cliffs and wonderful views over the whole island of Guadeloupe.
We had a wonderful stay in Guadeloupe. It is an amazing island, a piece of France in the Caribbean with a lot of points of interest and we enjoyed it a lot (except Pointe-à-Pitre). Unfortunately Andre had problems with his ears (after diving) and he had to go twice to a doctor; so we didn’t have enough time to visit the other islands (Marie-Galante etc).
We were very surprised that in Gosier which is a very touristic place during hgh season most of the restaurants and the streets were empty after 8 pm with only a few customers. The cost of the food is (because of the euro?) very high: a sandwich costs in the bakery 4 euro, one Tarte aux Mandes 4.50 euro.
In Gosier we lived in a private holiday flat firstname.lastname@example.org. The flat is very good, the kitchen is on the balcony with a breathtaking view over the bay; however a car is a must. The pool is one floor up and has an even nicer view over the sea.
On Jan 25 we took the ferry ‚Express des Iles‘ and left towards Dominica.