VOLCANO LA SOUFRIÈRE
Petit Futé's opinion on VOLCANO LA SOUFRIÈRE
Some data. Altitude at the summit: 1,467 m. Family: stratovolcano of the pelean type (explosive). Character: slowly increasing activity since 1992. Last eruption: 1976 (phreatic eruption called minor). Last magmatic eruption: 1530 (constitution of the dome). Observation network : nearly 200 measurement sites, of which about sixty are equipped with autonomous stations (with batteries and solar panels) telemetered by radio transmission to the Observatory.
Description of the hike. Duration of the hike: 4 hours, classified as easy. Difference in altitude: 500 m. Guadeloupe is rich of more than 300 km of hiking trails (called Traces in Guadeloupe), but the ascent to La Soufrière is among the must-do's that you should not miss under any circumstances: visiting an active volcano is an activity that you can do every day, so you might as well take the opportunity.
The hike starts with the Pas du Roy, a section paved (in part) by the army at the end of the 19th century, to reach the Savane-à-Mulets in 40 minutes. This portion, quite steep, allows to reach the old parking (before the 2004 earthquake) through a humid forest dominated by the marbri, better known as bois-bandé. If you are lucky, the view on the Saintes and the surrounding mountains is already splendid. The hike then continues along a small path located at the top of the parking lot, near an interpretation panel. A few meters further on, in a small niche dug in a huge rock, the statuette of Our Lady of Guadeloupe is protected from thieves by a wrought iron gate. It is not uncommon to see candles and flowers placed as offerings at the foot of the rock. There are also flowers all along the way: you cannot miss the mountain thyme and its pretty purple flowers, nor the fuchsia-mountain and its pink flowers. Higher up, you will come across the yellow mountain pineapple, which forms impressive, dense clumps at ground level, and the superb "Christmas tree", which is in fact a primitive fern. After a few more efforts, you will find yourself in front of a magnificent site: the Faujas landslide. It is a fault created by a phreatic eruption in 1798. The vegetation is remarkable, with beautiful vegetated walls that seem to be lost in the sky. Another fifteen minutes of walking to reach the northern fault and the last steep slope before the final ascent, which takes another 20 minutes. A few meters before the summit, you will pass by a concrete refuge which is very useful in case of sudden weather deterioration. With a lot of luck, the view at the top is breathtaking, as you can admire the whole of Guadeloupe and the neighbouring islands. Before starting the descent, you will pass by the Porte d'enfer and the Tarissan chasm: 70 m deep, it is the largest active chasm on the summit. It contains a lake of boiling hydrochloric acid!
Once back at the starting point, don't hesitate to take advantage of the yellow baths: the water is over 30°C on average! However, beware of amoebas (these micro-organisms that can be pathogenic): do not dive head first into the water.
Respect nature: the whole circuit is located in the heart of the Guadeloupe National Park. If you want everyone to enjoy this exceptional place, please respect the prohibitions: do not leave the trail, respect the markings, do not take shortcuts in the bends (this strongly degrades the vegetation and leads to landslides), do not pick up anything and do not leave anything behind, not even a banana peel! There is no trash can, either on the trail or even in the parking lot: you must bring all your waste with you.
Warning: between 2014 and 2019, new areas of fumaroles appeared on the summit, which required an order from the Prefect of Guadeloupe to enlarge the security perimeter on the summit of La Soufrière to prevent and reduce the risks for hikers. Signs have been put up by the National Park services: please respect them for your own safety!
To approach the chasms of the dome of "La Vieille Dame", you must now be equipped with a personal respiratory protective equipment (gas mask) and must be accompanied by a qualified and authorized guide.
To have updated information on the trail: www.guadeloupe-parcnational.fr (section Randonner). The application Rando-Guadeloupe (randoguadeloupe.gp) is intended for the general public. It offers detailed hiking itineraries, their level of difficulty, the itinerary to follow and many tips, a dynamic map, GPS tracks and offers a 3D navigation.
Our advice for a safe hike: Choose a hike of your level, adapted to your physical abilities. The level of the trails (called tracks in Guadeloupe) is indicated as well as their duration. Find out about the state of the tracks and the weather forecast for the day (rain can cause rivers to swell). Always inform a third person of the chosen itinerary and stick to it. Do not leave after 3pm on a hike, as night falls at the latest at 6pm in the tropics. Be equipped with walking shoes, water, food (dry fruits, energy bars...), a telephone, rain gear...
Opening time and information on VOLCANO LA SOUFRIÈRE
Reserved for good walkers. Allow about 4 hours. Remember to leave a change of clothes in the car.
Members' reviews on VOLCANO LA SOUFRIÈRE
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