Segment 7 is a perfect introduction into Dominica’s banana and agricultural farm life and heritage - traversing a mix of flat and very hilly terrain, most of which was under heavy banana cultivation during what was called the banana era. From the Hatten Garden Estate to the farm lands at First Camp the segment showcases agricultural cultivation, primary forest stands, rivers, and spectacular coastal vistas.
Points of Interest/Attractions
Viewpoints of Melville Hall Airport and Pagua Bay
The segment start at Hatten Garden is located approximately 2 miles south of the village of Marigot along the main Marigot – Roseau highway, and also 2 minutes north of the Pagua River - Hatten Garden Bridge junction. This area is serviced by public bus, and local information may have to be obtained regarding the bus schedule through this point. Special /private taxi service arrangements are also recommended, particularly if hikers wish to make an early start on this segment.
The Communities – Carib Territory, Marigot
This is a district on the north east coast of area 3,785 acres bordered roughly on the north by a ravine called Big River, to the west by the centre of the Pagua Valley, to the south by a line leading inland from the Aratouri Ravine and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. This was the rugged unoccupied part of the island to which the majority of Caribs retreated after the colonisation of the rest of Dominica by the French and British. Many of the other Caribs however remained in their previously occupied zones and mixed with the newcomers. For years during the 19th century the district was known as the Carib Quarter.
The name Marigot is used throughout the French-influenced Antilles indicating a bay with a small stream flowing into it.
Along Dominica’s north east coast there are three such bays which were given this name by the French - Marigot Bay on the coast near Wesley, another Grand Marigot, which is the bay of Saint Souveur, and the best known: Petite Marigot, now simply called Marigot with an English pronunciation.
When the British took over Dominica they renamed the Petite Marigot, Halifax Bay, but this did not last and the name Marigot remained in use. A settlement developed around the lands of the English planter John Weir, an area of the modern village that is called Weirs today.
After Dominica became one of the Leeward islands in 1832, a number of large English plantations in the district recruited labourers from Antigua and the Leeward Islands and many of them settled in the village bringing with them their Methodist and Anglican faith and their particular English Creole form of speech, which became known in Dominica as Kockoy.
The bay was an important shipping place for the northeast and a jetty and crane existed there for moving cargo. Since the 1770's a small fort had guarded the bay at Mantipo Point and a Police Station was built there in the 1910's. In the 1920's a cottage hospital was constructed on the opposite hillside to service the district covering the Carib Territory to Calibishie. By then, Marigot was the largest village in the north.
Marigot is now the largest settlement in north-eastern Dominica, and has grown to be known as an agricultural based community – much of the lands surrounding the village is under agricultural cultivation. The village has a population of 2,676 people, and is home to a Fisheries Complex as well as the island's main airport.
Segment 7, can best be described as the sandwich between Dominica’s indigenous culture and the heavily forested jungles of the northern forest reserve – it is a perfect introduction into Dominica’s banana and agricultural farm life and heritage, and traverses a mix of flat and very hilly terrain, most of which was under heavy banana cultivation during what was called the banana era.
From the Hatten Garden highway the segment follows the farm access road leading into the Crapaud Hall Estate past a prawn farm and a few river crossings and meandering up through overgrown farm lands and sparse agriculture before emerging at the heights of Captain Bruce – excellent panoramic vistas of the Pagua area and coastline being provided on the way.
From this high point at which telecommunication masts are located, the segment winds through a model farm and then descends through secondary forest before meeting the first river crossing at Mantipo. From here the segment climbs steeply through an area of prime forest opening up the first vistas of the Melville Hall Airport, and then begins a long descent through Craig – through a mix of cultivated farm land, overgrown farm lands and sparse agriculture before emerging at the second river crossing. From here the trail climbs steeply again through another stand of prime forest – before wiggling out through secondary forest and overgrown areas and reconnecting to a farm access road that leads through more cultivated farm lands and the segment end at First Camp.
First Camp to Petite Macoucherie– 10 km and 9 hours
Segment 8 is one of the more challenging segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail. From the heights of the Melville Hall Estate at First Camp the trail meanders through prime forests, across rivers, and over Mosquito Mountain before descending into Carholm Estate, displaying towering forest varieties as well as a mix of wildlife including Dominica’s national bird, the Sisserou Parrot.
Points of Interest/Attractions
First Camp is accessible from the Segment 8 Access Sign located ½ mile north of the Melville Hall Airport along the main Marigot – Portsmouth Highway. From this point access to the Segment Entry sign is due west on the road running along the northern fence of the Melville Hall Airport - the trail head is approximately 2 miles from this junction along this road. Users should remain along this main road (for another 10 – 15 minutes) and veer left at the bridge (with the broken side-rails). From there, access continues along the main dirt roadway for another 10 minutes before emerging at the entrance to the Segment.
The Communities – Marigot, Mero
Located on the West Coast of the island, Mero was originally a Carib village named Merocai, and later became a slave estate. The estate house from this period can be seen from the main road next to La RiviereMero.
After emancipation, the free slaves developed the village along the beach as their main activity was fishing. Farming was developed in the heights of Mero – Cuba, Kahoma – and in the interior, the GrosMorne’s estate produced vanilla and cocoa, oranges and limes.
Today this is a fishing village and is home to some 300 residents, and is well known for its black clean sandy beach, beautiful sunset, and calm and shallow waters.
Segment 8 is an exceedingly challenging hike that cuts across the backbone of our rugged island - winding through deep virgin forest along a route that can best be described as ….un-ending!
Designed and marketed with the experienced and seasoned hiker in mind, hiking Segment 8 requires much endurance and durability and is not for the feint at heart. The topography and vegetation along this segment is spectacular….. rain-forest throughout, undulating terrain, swift flowing rivers and the imposing Mosquito Mountain!
This segment also displays the mighty Melville Hall River as it criss-crosses the route providing opportunities for re-fuelling and cooling dips. At one of these crossings, a fallen Gommier tree spans both sides of the river, offering hikers the option of walking the giant log perched a few feet above the roaring river.
Dominica’s wildlife also features prominently on this segment - tweeting birds and the majestic Sisserou and Jaco Parrots add life to the quiet jungles, agoutis and feral pigs roam freely, and on wetter day’s crabs add to the landscape.
The trail route caps off the experience as it meanders through the thick Jungles of the Northern Forest Reserve. Along the way it crossing many rivers and the only log cabin along the Trail before arriving at Mosquito Mountain for a formidable climb to the highest point of the Segment. From the summit and views of the neighbouring Morne Diablotin and the north east coast, the trail winds down the ridges for another 3 hours before emerging at Carholm Estate, marking the end of the Segment.
Petite Macoucherie to Colihaut Heights – 12.8 km and 10 hours
Segment 9, the most challenging segment of the Waitukubuli National Trail starts at Petite Macoucherie, in an area known as the Carholm Estate, and continues along the farm access road before disappearing into the jungles of the Northern Forest Reserve for a roller coaster adventure that ends in the highlands of Colihaut Village. This segment displays a mix of farmlands, prime forests and spectacular natural features.
Points of Interest/Attractions
Petite Macoucherie is accessible along the West Coast Highway at the Cuba-Mero junction. From this entry point, the route meandering along the farm access road, which users must stay on for approximately 25 minutes, before making a right (uphill) after the galvanize siding packing (farm) house with flowing water. The Entry point to the segment is a few minutes ahead.
This farm-access route is not serviced by public bus, and special / private taxi service arrangements have to be made before hand. Users are also advised that this roadway is in poor condition.
The Communities – Mero, Salisbury, Colihaut
An estate and a village along the west coast that were named by the British in reference to the city of Salisbury in the county of Wiltshire in the south of England. The original Carib name for the area was Baroui (pronounced Bawi) and it is still used in Creole to refer to the place. However, as Dominica became more Anglicized during the 20th century, the name of Salisbury began to appear on official documents and maps and by the 1960s it had become the formal name.
The Kalinago called it Kaliho, and the first French visitors called it Colihaut. It was from here in 1650 that the missionary Fr. Raymond Breton constructed the first chapel in Dominica made of reeds and thatch in the form of the CaribKarbets.
Segment 9, the segment along which up and down is the only 2 directions to travel, and considered to be for seasoned and experienced hikers is the most challenging segment of the Waitukubuli National Trail. It starts at Petite Macoucherie, in an area known as the Carholm Estate, and continues along the farm access road before disappearing into the jungles of the Northern Forest Reserve for a roller coaster adventure that ends in the highlands of Colihaut Village. This segment displays a mix of farmlands, prime forests and spectacular natural features.
From the segment entry point at Carholm, the trail continues along the farm access road - meandering through the flat and opening up active and abandoned agricultural cultivation. Carholm was once one of the more productive areas of banana cultivation.
This flat access then climbs up to the MorneApion area from where one can get spectacular panoramas of the east and central ridges of the island.
From this highpoint the trail descends into very steep terrain and hikers are forced to clamber around the roots, trees and rocks and through very wild topography. Very much like a roller – coast ride, the jungle trek leads to prime rain forest, across streams and rivers, up and down precipitous sides – at times traversing the Northern Forest Reserve line.Throughout this adventure, the forests are studded with epiphytes, colorful blooms and flowers and livened by the chorus of birds.
This segment also traverses the Kachibona Lake area, and a short detour provides for a visit to this hidden emerald, tucked away in the heights of Colihaut. From here the trail continues through the forests before emerging at a farm, from which an access road leads down to the Segment 9 Exit Sign.
Colihaut Heights to Syndicate – 6.4 km and 2 hours
Segment 10 of the Waitukubuli National Trail is the western-most segment and traverses old and abandoned farm and estate roads. This short and easy-to-hike segment opens up farm lands, heavily forested areas and sections of the Northern Forest Reserve and provides excellent opportunities for sighting the Jaco and Sisserou Parrots and other fauna in their natural and un-disturbed habitats.
Points of Interest/Attractions
Syndicate Nature Trail
Syndicate Visitor Center
The easy to hike and relatively short route is along an old access road, and covers some of the more heavily forested areas along the islands west coast, featuring dry and rain forest stands along the way. The trail characteristics – distance from the coast, high altitude and climate, and soil type also make for the perfect environment to observe varying micro-climates and different vegetative zones along the segment.
This almost-flat dirt trail is in a high elevation area that was once heavily farmed and known to be the bread basket of the west coast. Most of the farms lands have been abandoned and are now overgrown – those along the second half of the segment are however under cultivation.
This segment allows access to the Syndicate Nature Facility and the MorneDiablotin trail-head, and provides excellent opportunities for viewing the Sisserou Parrot, Dominica’s national bird, and local agriculture. It also features many over-arching trees, a large pond used for grazing cattle, thick forests and some surface streams – all of which support a rich biodiversity. The area topography provides sweeping panoramic vistas of the surrounding communities and valleys.
From the entry sign the trail meanders along the old access road and through secondary forests featuring colorful foliage, wild and cultivated tree varieties livened by the sounds and colors of the birds, lizards, and other fauna. The well-defined old estate road provides an excellent base for the trail bed, which is about 8 feet wide in most sections – tapering down to 2 feet in areas that are overgrown with a variety of herbs, seges, and grasses. Most of the trail is dwarfed by the overhead canopy which makes for comfortable hiking on even the hottest of days.
The segment also boasts many surface streams, exotic and ornamental plant and flower varieties and citrus orchards in the Syndicate area, the end point of the segment.
Syndicate to Bourne – 10 km and 7 hours
Segment 11 of the Waitukubuli National Trail traverses the north central part of the island. This hike provides fantastic panoramic vistas of the north coast and showcases a mix of Dominica – varied micro-climates, wild rivers, prime forest, farm lands, history and heritage, as well as city and rural life. Like most of the others this segment provides excellent opportunities for sighting the parrots and other fauna in their natural and un-disturbed habitats.
Points of Interest/Attractions
Traditional Living – Bourne Village
Brandy Equestrian – horse-back riding
Indian River boating
Segment 11 can best be described as a sleeping giant – a tough and un-suspecting hike that showcases much of what Dominica is all about; a range of micro-climates – rainforest, prime forest, transitional forests and goes along old estate roads, dry river courses, narrow mountain ridges, farm lands and crosses a local highway.
From the rainforests at MornePlaisance the trail descends through transitional secondary forests and then to the dry forests and local farmlands before arriving at Picard, where there is the first of 2 river crossings along the segment. From this location the trail climbs steeply and disappears through a narrow forest corridor into the northern forest reserve and along ridges, putting on display giant volcanic rocks, towering gommier, bois diable and other local forest species, as well as spectacular vistas of the Portsmouth area. The segment is a very entertaining one, and the chattering, tweeting and cooing of the jaco parrots, rammiers, and other birds adds life to this very exhilarating walk.
From the thick forests the trail exits into secondary forests and farmlands at Brandy and then crosses the old railway tracks before coming onto the main highway connecting Portsmouth to the north east.
The trail then continues up through the dry forests of Sugar Loaf and then follows the old Estate Road which showcases abandoned agriculture before arriving at Bourne.