Susan Worner Tours

Guadeloupe – Caribbean Gardens and Tropical Wild Flowers

24 JANUARY – 02 FEBRUARY 2018

GUADELOUPE – Caribbean Gardens and Tropical Wild Flowers

Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Guadeloupe became a French territory in 1835. Its string of islands in the Lesser Antilles is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to the west. The main island of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre resembles a butterfly. Endowed with one of the best primeval forests and a volcanic chain a visit to the highest point ‘La Soufrière’ is one of the special days of the tour. Orchids, anthuriums and bromeliads in the forest contrast with the red mangroves of the marine reserve.

Our Swiss botanist, Beat Fischer, has prepared and will lead the tour with his usual enthusiasm and knowledge. Plant lists are prepared for everyone. The diversity of habitats and plants is quite exceptional on these islands.

We have chosen typical, local-style, hotels and our base on Basse-Terre is high above the sea, surrounded by lush, forested hills. Welcoming and family-run, Le Rayon Vert has a good restaurant with Creole specialities. For the final few days we take a boat to the islands of Les Saintes, to Terre-de-Haut, to stay at Hotel Le Bois Joli situated on the edge of the beach and shaded by palm trees. A perfect escape from winter in the northern hemisphere combined with a fascinating insight into plants and life on a Caribbean island. All-inclusive with packed lunches on excursion days and dinner each evening.

Guadeloupe enjoys a dry season early in the year with pleasant sea breezes ‘les Alizés’ with a temperature of about 20–26º C on Basse-Terre. The direct flight with Air France from Paris takes 7 hours 30 minutes and is overnight on the return.

 

Itinerary

DAY ONE – WEDNESDAY 24 JANUARY LD

Depart London Heathrow to Paris where we board an Air France direct flight to Pointe-à-Pitre. Short journey to our hotel on the western coast of rugged, mountainous Basse-Terre. Time to relax or enjoy a swim. Aperitif in the garden overlooking the sea followed by short talk on the programme before dinner together

DAY TWO – THURSDAY 25 JANUARY BPD

Morning excursion to the tropical forest reserve of the national park of Guadeloupe. We explore the lush, green, unique flora with some huge trees such as Sloanea caribaea (Elaeocarp family) with its imposing buttresses. Different species of the tropical Black Mouth family (Melastomataceae), the red coloured, eye-catching Lobster claw (Heliconia bihai), tree ferns and ficus trees are found along the path. Maybe the endemic Guadeloupe Black Woodpecker will be spotted. We picnic in front of the picturesque waterfall ‘Cascade aux Ecrevisses’. In the afternoon we visit the botanical garden of Guadeloupe at Deshaies and see tropical plants from all over the world, all well-labelled. Plants often seen in greenhouses grow outside; hummingbirds are frequent visitors to these colourful flowers.

DAY THREE – FRIDAY 26 JANUARY BPD

In the morning we visit the capital of Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre, to see the colourful, vibrant market on La Darse harbour. Spices, tropical fruit and flowers are sold by women in madras-cloth turbans, and fishermen’s boats are docked nearby. We continue to the eastern end of Grande-Terre and stop for a picnic lunch at the most easterly point. The rich coastal vegetation is explored in the afternoon with Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), Moonflower (Ipomoea alba), Stigmapyllon diversifolium from the Malpighia family, Devil’s backbone (Pedilanthus tithymaloides), Mexican cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) or White cinnamon (Canella winterana), and we return to our hotel on Basse-Terre late afternoon.

DAY FOUR – SATURDAY 27 JANUARY BLD

Between the islands of Grande-Terre and Basse- Terre lies the marine reserve of Grand Cul-de-Sac, a shallow protected lagoon containing mangroves and scattered small islands. On our guided boat trip we will explore the mangroves. The Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) is formed of small islands, inhabited by special shrimps, cattle egrets and magnificent frigate birds. On a little coconut- palm-bedecked island a delicious Creole barbecue awaits us, and a chance to swim in the corals between tropical fish shoals. Return by boat in the afternoon to the mainland and on to the hotel.

DAY FIVE – SUNDAY 28 JANUARY BPD

We take the coastal road passing colourful villages, reaching the heart of the National Park to visit the steaming volcano ‘La Soufrière’. Our walk starts in the tropical forest with a lot of colourful plants and spectacular epiphytes from the Philodendron and Bromeliad families. On our way to the top we pass the mountain vegetation, seeing Lobelia strict, Irlbachia frigida from the Gentian family and the Glory Subshrub Tibouchina ornata. On the top at 1467m the intense red coloured Pitcairnia bifrons of the Bromeliad family is dominant and attracts hummingbirds.

DAY SIX – MONDAY 29 JANUARY BLD

We follow the coastal road north to Le Jardin Creole for a guided visit. It has a rich collection of indigenous garden plants for culinary and medicinal uses, and an orchard. We discover how the local people processed and used these plants which they grew in their gardens. We then leave for the south of the island to Trois-Rivières to take a boat to the islands of Les Saintes. Terre-de-Haut is where we spend the remaining days, at the inviting Hotel Bois Joli with its private beach. Pelicans are regularly seen fishing from the landing stage. Time to relax before dinner together overlooking the bay.

DAY SEVEN – TUESDAY 30 JANUARY BPD

Our morning walk leads us to the north of the little island, to Le Morne Morel. We explore the dry forest and its rich plants, Gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba), the ornamental Frangipani (Plumeria alba), the poisonous Manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), an indigenous Cacti (Pilosocereus royenii). The naturalised Air plant (Kalanchoe pinnata) is eye-catching and perhaps the enormous dragon-like Lesser Antillean Iguana may be spotted. We picnic under the coconut palms on the beach, walking in the afternoon to Terre-de-Haut, the main town of Les Saintes, and back to the hotel.

DAY EIGHT – WEDNESDAY 31 JANUARY BLD

From the private landing stage in front of the hotel we leave by boat to the neighbouring island of Terre-de-Bas. We walk through the authentic Caribbean village of Grand Anse and explore the coastline. On the beach we find Morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae), Canavalia campylocarpa and Indian almond (Terminalia catappa). After enjoying freshly caught fish at Eugenette’s bar on the beach we walk to the boat that takes us back to the hotel. On the final evening we enjoy a local aperitif on the terrace overlooking the bay before having dinner together.

DAY NINE – THURSDAY 01 FEBRUARY BD

Morning walk to the look-out point of Morne-à-Cointe at 79m, just above the hotel and up the wooded hillside with some interesting trees Piscidia carthagensis or Parkinson aculata and superb views across the bay. We leave the island in the afternoon by boat to Trois-Rivières and on to Pointe-à-Pitre airport for the evening flight to Paris.

DAY TEN – FRIDAY 02 FEBRUARY B

Early morning arrival at Paris Orly with onward flight back to London.




Map of Guadeloupe

Tour Costs

£3,880 per person sharing

Single supplement £580

Included:

All flights, transport in modern comfortable small coach and boat transfers to/from Les Saintes.

Deluxe accommodation, delicious meals as indicated, All garden visits, led by Beat Fisher, botanist and accompanied by Susan Worner, tour manager.

Not included:

Alcoholic and soft drinks, items of a personal nature, tips, Full cover of fully comprehensive travel insurance.

Notes:

The climate at the end of January is warm with occasional short tropical shower.

Meals included are shown as B (breakfast), L (lunch), P (picnic) and D (dinner). Often guests meet for drinks before dinner (optional).

Lightweight clothes with a shower proof light jacket for the rainforest visits – in case.

Casual wear for the evening. Good comfortable walking shoes/trainers. Swimwear for those who enjoy a dip and for the mangrove day.

Wifi is available at each hotel.

Guadeloupe is a French overseas region and euros are the official currency.

Activity Level:

Reasonably active. Botanical walks with ascents and descents (not steep). Steep ascent to the volcano (optional).