Day 5: Jurassic Park Meets Pinterest--Hiking The Syndicate Trail On Dominica
Explore Syndicate Trail On Dominica: A Plant Lover’s Paradise! Best Things To Do Visiting Dominica
Meet Lord Of The Strong Nails + Fabulous Bone Structure: Slim, Our Guide For Exploring The Syndicate Trail
I tell you what. The Dominicans are holding back some sort of magical knowledge when it comes to growing extraordinarily long, robust and beautiful fingernails. Slim, our next tour guide - tall, handsome (why do all of the Dominican men have such beautiful bone structures?!), cool demeanor, robust; the poster child of this reasoning. He has - I’m not kidding you - ½ inch to one-inch nails on every one of his fingers. How? I have no idea. He’s holding back on all of us little white girls, that’s for sure. And yes, the struggle was real trying to snap a photo of his crazy @$$ fingernails discretely.
Per Titus’ introduction, we hopped into Slim’s van. Turquoise exterior, red teddy bear swinging from the rearview mirror, we were headed for our next activity: Hiking Syndicate trail. First stop? A gas station to pay a tax for a tour pass. It was a pretty nominal fee; somewhere in the $5-$15 range per person, I believe (I could be wrong!) - depending on if you get a single attraction pass or an “unlimited” pass for the day. Park Ranger (equivalents...a guy riding in a white pick up truck up near trailheads) stop tour guide vehicles to verify we had our passes (this actually happened to us, not a scam.) It’s their way of making sure they’re deriving revenue from tourism on Dominica, which is great- the islands need it! So be sure you don’t skimp on getting your tourism pass before touring ashore on Dominica.
Hiking and Exploring The Syndicate Mountain Trail (Northern Forest Reserve) On Dominica
Morne Diablotins National Park: Visiting Dominica
The Syndicate Mountain Hiking Trail on Dominica reviews are right; it is a little slice of Dominica nature heaven. The trails are named after the Syndicate area, considered the most fertile area for produce in all of Dominica. The Syndicate Hiking Trail is a part of the Morne Diablotins National Park (which means Small or Little Devils.)
Fun Nerd Facts About Morne Diablotins
Fun Scientific Volcano Nerd Facts, Credited To TheDominican.net:
At 4, 747 feet (1430 meters), Morne Diablotins, is the second highest peak of the Lesser Antilles after Soufriere in Guadeloupe (1467 meters).
Numerous hot springs are found close to Morne Diablotins approaching the town of Portsmouth and below the waters of the Caribbean Sea. Nine of the Caribbean’s sixteen active volcanoes are located on the island of Dominica. By contrast, there is one each on Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and Nevis.
So what does this mean? Flora and fauna? Freakin. Awesome. As they described it in Chris Doyle’s sailing guide,
“If Christopher Columbus came back today, Dominica is the only island he would recognize...Dominica is the region’s most unspoiled country, and it’s a most exciting destination for spectacular natural beauty. When Columbus was before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, trying to describe the awe-inspiring mountains of Dominica, he had to resort to crumpling up a sheet of paper to illustrate the dramatic form of the land, with its valleys, gorges, and pinnacles.”
The main road up the mountain to Morne Diablotins is everything you’d expect, picturesque countryside, viney, tons of beautiful tropical growth. Small cascading waterfalls along the roadside the higher you get.
Hiking The Syndicate Trail: Jurassic Park Meets Pinterest
Once on this trail, it’s a mix of Jurassic Park meets The Sound Of Music. There’s incredible high, prehistoric-looking trees, beautiful varieties of textures, patterns-- all I could think about is how I’d love to sit out here and sketch these trees. Seriously, Dominica is an artist’s paradise. There are areas with large clearings that look so clean of underbrush, you can see the curves of the terrain and the expanse of how beautiful this ecosystem is. Though Hurricane Maria did hit Dominica apparently pretty hard, being that I didn’t see the before the experience of this beautiful place, I honestly wouldn’t know there was any beauty missing from this exotic paradise. Slim mentioned some of the parrots on the island aren’t sighted as easily as pre-Maria, yet we still spotted 2-3 and heard several more, which made my Parrot-excitement-quota for the day.
If You’re A Plant Lover, You’re Going To Freak Out Hiking The Syndicate Trail On Dominica
If you’re a plant lover, hiking the Syndicate Trail, you’re gonna freak out. I was freaking out. I mean, the stuff we pay $25 for a small hanging basket at Home Depot? Those sought after “Angel Plants” - They have these as massive natural bushes, leaves 4-6x the size of our stateside impersonators. All I kept saying was, “Do you know how much this bush would cost in the states?!!?”
“Do you know how much this bush would cost in the states?!!?”
Between those epic “angel plants” (which is just a big Americanized blanket statement for tropical-plants-we-don’t-know-the-real-names-for), ferns of all sizes, and epiphytes...it’s a smorgasbord. I slowed down our group CONSTANTLY because I had to yield to my macro-photography nerd impulses and take texture shots of all these crazy plants. Ugh. It was delightful. I was barely sorry at all for slowing down our group.
Slim, Laura and Danny aren’t exactly what I’d describe as plant aficionados, but they tolerated my shenanigans. I think Slim was more of an aviary enthusiast, himself.
The Syndicate Trail is a gorgeous, vibrant trail to hike on Dominica. If you’re a free spirit or nature lover of any sort, you will thoroughly enjoy Syndicate Trail, and Dominica in general. It’s lush. It’s vibrant. The flora and fauna is HANDS DOWN king of all the Caribbean islands.
“I Love Plants!”
Concluding our walk, one of our favorite moments of the trip happened. We’re riding to our next attraction, I'm in the front passenger seat, Laura and Danny are in the backseat, (like the 3-year-old children they are.) Laura starts poking fun at how I was freaking out about the plants back on the trail.
Determined to become Slim’s best friend, Slim and I are having a light conversation around how great that trail is. I turn, make direct eye contact at Slim and passionately say, “I LOVE plants.” His response? Absolutely nothing.
I turn, make direct eye contact at Slim and passionately say, “I LOVE plants.” His response? Absolutely nothing.
Someone Must Have Pressed The Mute Button On My Face
Somehow, between small talk, interacting with Laura, and then 5 seconds later re-entering our conversation, I express my love of plants to Slim, and it’s like I was on mute. Not even an eye twitch of this acknowledgment; his eyes stay in quiet concentration straight forward on the road, me, left in the wake of my bold confession, hanging deadpan in the air.
Alright, he didn’t hear me. But you know who did? Laura and Danny. They witnessed that whole f*#@ing exchange. And they’re doing that silent-dying-laughing in the backseat, you know, like you do in the back of the class when you don’t want the teacher to notice. Me, turning beet red, feeling like an idiot, trying not to acknowledge how funny what just happened is, and Laura and Danny relishing, bathing in this moment of Shelby-looking-like-a-plant-loving idiot.
I Do Love My Damn Plants. And I Don’t Care Who Knows It.
I tighten my lips, flex my jaw, bring my tongue in front of my teeth and hold in all of my emotions in, trying not to crack up (or cry?), and well, yeah, I do love my damn plants. And I don’t care who knows it.
I was asked repeatedly for the remaining duration of the trip, and still to this day, “Hey Shelby, so like, do you love plants?” And the answer is yeah, yeah I do. I love plants. Asshole.