a wild & tropical paradise
My mission to design a 2 day expedition whilst I’ve been in Antigua is complete! I’ve linked together marked trails with new routes (thanks to ‘Mike’ the Machete) which exposes you to the real wild side of Antigua. This mini expedition takes you through its tropical rainforest, over its highest peaks, descends an incredible ridge line to a beach where you can string your hammock for the night and then the last leg is along it’s windswept coastline to the finish in English Harbour. The views are incredible, the vegetation is fascinating and the journey is rewarding.
This route gives you the opportunity to disappear into tropical paradise and discover its wilder side, its hidden treasures, jaw dropping views and varied jungle and coastal terrain.
Trek beneath the thick rainforest canopy, past giant bamboo stalks and weave your way around hanging vines. This jungle experience is unique for its tranquil atmosphere. The ambiance here, is completely different to any other jungle I have explored.
''As I ventured further into the thick of the vegetation, the atmosphere transitioned from the musical Antiguan tones to an undisturbed, calm atmosphere. When I stopped, to catch my breath after the first climb, I expected to be surrounded by the sounds of wildlife buzzing, but the utterly calming silence caught me by complete surprise. It was surreal. I looked up at the sun breaking through the gaps in the canopy, the light created a dappled effect that surrounded me with this incredible glow. I was in utter awe of the ambience this place had. It’s not like any other jungle I have ever been to before. It had this calming energy, that makes you want to breathe, and inhale the refreshing air. Utter paradise.''
This journey highlights the islands stunning features and is designed to show you its wilder side, from the highest peaks to the windswept shoreline, it's offers an all-in-one package. Hack through the vibrant jungle, take to the peaks to absorb the island views, descend a spectacular ridge line, establish camp on the white sandy beaches, cool off in the turquoise Caribbean waters and trek the rugged windward facing coastline to return to base in English Harbour for a deserving swim and a beer.
‘’When I first broke through the rainforest canopy, and emerged through the lemongrass fields to the summit of the first peak, Mount Mcnish, I followed the horizon all the way around, admiring a full 360 degree panoramic of the island. I could see the entire island, including my next destination, Boggy Peak. It was an ideal advantage view point which help me to visually map my route to continue my trek, and link together the next point.’’
I have been visiting this island for the last six years of my life, and cannot believe it has taken me until this year, 2022, to really explore its wilder side. I’ve been on the hikes and visited the white sandy beaches, but I have never put on my backpack to truly explore it. So, I’m writing this, as a present to all those who spend time in Antigua, year on year, to entice you into the mountains. Pack your adventure gear and go and see its wild side! I promise, that beer at the end, when you're tired, scratched, and midge bitten, will be extremely rewarding.
Mount Mcnish - Christian Valley: Dist: 4.77km. Elev Gain/Loss: 353m, -352m.
Optional - Rock Peak: Dist: 5.38km. Elev Gain/Loss: 447m, -246m
Christian Valley - Boggy Peak (Mount Obama): Dist: 2.53km. Elev Gain/Loss: 403m, -56.7m.
Section 3 - Cade Peak - Carlisle Bay: Dist: 5.53km. Elev Gain/Loss: 207m, -501m.
Section 4: Carlisle Bay to Falmouth Harbour: Dist: 11.9km. Elev Gain/Loss 460m, -460m
Hammock and Mozzy net
Blanket/Liner (it can pretty cold at night)
Toiletries - wipes, toilet bits, disposable bags, sunscreen, toothbrush etc
Mozzy head net.
Water bottle - carry 3L each
Snacks - high in salt content
Food 2x lunches, 1x breakfast, 1x dinner (possible to buy on route) - see food recommendations
Bin bags - rubbish and useful to put gear on top of on the beach
Cash - road side snacks, taxi.
Jumper - cold at night
Clothes to sleep in (recommend long bottoms)
Long hiking trousers - you will get scratched
Shirt - long sleeve to hike in
T-shirt - spare
Good shoes - trainers with good grip or hiking boots
Shoes for eve? Up to you (camp is by the beach, useful to have if you want to collect firewood)
Medical kit - foot care, antihistamine, bandages, gauze, tape, plasters, tweezers, antibacterial, paracetamol, ibuprofen, burn cream, after bite, disinfectant.
I recommend that you carry an Epic pen - please ensure you know how to use it. This route will expose you to wasps and other insects.
Fire lighting equipment - cotton wool, lighters, kindling.
Machete - helpful when it gets thick!
Items to carry in your pocket:
Map of route
Food Menu Suggestions:
I have marked shops and cafes you will be able to reach on route if you need to. I recommend planning ahead as a team and provisioning before you leave for the trip. It is better that you have everything you need so that you are not relying on finding food. You will be hot, tired and hungry at the end of the hike, and if you are delayed for any reason, you may not be able to source food as shops will be shut.
*Reminder* it will be hot...only pack food items that won't perish. Chocolate will melt!!!
1x Breakfast: Snack bars, banana's, PB wrap.
2x Lunches : wraps, sandwiches
Plenty of snacks (2 days) - nuts, crisps, energy bars, peanut butter and crackers, bananas, apples etc.
1x Dinner: There is a local Bbq spot when you reach the road where you can restock on water supplies and provision. They sell a mean grilled jerk chicken!
Fire food: Pita breads, aubergine/courgettes, jarred pesto, sun-dried toms (not in oil).
I have bought a fish from the local fisherman on the beach before! Keep you eye out for them!
KMZ ROUTE FILE
Meet at 8:30am. Start your day meeting the team at Barbies for 8:30am, the cafe below the yacht club in Falmouth. This is an ideal place to have some breakfast, sip a coffee, check your gear and pick up any last minute bits from the shop before jumping in a taxi from the main car park. I suggest that you aim to leave Falmouth by 9:30am.
Drop off point/parking - address. There is room to park on the road side. Remember to make note of where you leave your car if you have decided drive so that you can find it again...its a very random road to find!
1. Start. This first ascent really sets the wild mood for the expedition. Be prepared for some bush whacking, steep climbs and a bit of a nav mission. (There is a marked route up to Mount Mcnish which I have marked as 'optional' on the map'). From the roadside you will face a south westerly direction to face Mount Mcnish...you won't miss it - its that big mountain that has been in full view as you approach the parking location. Just past a farm house (A) you will see a track and a gate, go through the gate and follow the track that winds up the hillside for as far as it will take you. Eventually, you will start to second guess which way the track goes...or if it is even a path anymore. This is where the fun begins. Stay high and continue in a NW direction. You will eventually meet a fence line, that runs along the mountain contour, handrail this fence until you hit a secondary fence that runs down the mountain, hop over the gap in this secondary fence line and you will begin to find the path again. The path will guide you to a stunning ravine, where you will suddenly feel like you are in the jungle. The trees are bigger, vines are hanging from above, and the air tastes more moist. Clamber over the boulders. You may spot a few red markers that will lead you directly up this ravine. Find your way between the boulders, until eventually you will leave the ravine to the left and wind your way through the jungle - keep walking in an upward direction! Watch out here - there are a few paper wasps. Ahead, you will notice more daylight, the jungle abruptly stops and you will emerge from the jungle into a large lemongrass field. Walk to the electrical tower. Take a sit, enjoy the breeze, have a drink and a snack and absorb the views of the island and the route ahead. Can you spot Boggy Peak?
- note. There are several routes up to Mount Mcnish, let me know if you find a better route up!
2. From the electrical tower, there is an obvious track to follow in a southerly direction, down into Christian Valley. However, don't get complacent as you might miss your left hand turn which cuts a good chunk out of your journey. The left turn is before the car track takes you North. If you miss it....or if you do decide to add the option to go up to Rock Peak (a steep climb but incredible views at the top), then I suggest you extend this trip into a three day adventure. The short cut I have created takes you into Christian Valley, where you will emerge from thick jungle, at a plantation farm. From here, join the car track that takes you directly west towards the ocean. If you reach the national park gates you have gone to far. There is a engraved monument at the start of the next stage of the route (b).
Option Rock Peak - this is a good workout, a steep climb, but the views are great! When the terrain begins to flatten out you will arrive at an area that locals have made camp. I got a little lost here finding the way, but if you keep to the northerly side of the mountainside, you will find the trail which directs you through a tree plantation. Keep left up here and follow the markings down to the valley. I you find yourself facing west, you won't be able to get down. It's really steep. From here, you can either head to Morlenes restaurant for a drink, or if you have plenty of time still, turn left at the road and work your way up the valley to the National Park Gates to the engraved monument for Mount Obama and start the next stage of the route (b)
3. This section is well marked all the way to the summit. There are two route options (c): signposted 100 metres along the trail there is the option to take the long route or the short route. I suggest taking the short route as you've still got a long day ahead of you. Weave your way through mature rainforest. When you stop to catch your breath and grab a drink, pause for a second...and notice how quiet it is. Look up, at the sunlight dappling through. Its incredible! The marked trail will take you just over an hour. Keep a steady pace as its a big climb to the top in hot conditions. Eventually you will hit a T-junction. To reach your second summit of the day you will need to turn right at this junction. This will lead you to the road and the final steep march to the summit where you can stop for lunch!
4. Once reenergised, return down the steep road then back along the same track you emerged from earlier - do not continue down the road (or do if you want to finish here). Remember the T junction with the sign post to Fig Tree drive? Follow the signpost labelled 'Fig Tree Drive' (d). Get ready for an epic ridge walk!
5. There will be a short climb to join the ridge. Once you reach the highest point, the direction of the trail will head south to the next peak called - 'Cade Peak'. There are lots of different trails that join this track, and it can be misleading - I saw one sign labelled 'Mount Mcnish' when I was walking it -another route option to investigate next time (I think this takes you past Christian Valley Waterfall, but bypasses Mount Obama). Stay high, and check your compass every so often to ensure you are still going south (its easy to loose your sense of direction in the jungle). If you start descending down either side of the ridge, you know you are going wrong. Stay on the ridge. When the view opens out and you can see Carlise Bay, the trail will swing to an easterly direction and descend rapidly.
6. Eventually you will hit a dirt track that will guide you to the road. Stick left!! Watch out for dogs here, they are chained up but loud - I tend to take my backpack off one shoulder when I am around dogs in the case I need to use it as a protection barrier. Follow this trail all the way down past the houses and to the road. Turn left at the road and stop at the road side cafe for some BBQ jerk chicken and a cold drink.
7. Continue down the road, all the way to the entrance to Carlise Bay (E). I strung my hammock in the trees here. (Don't be tempted to stay at the hotel!!). If you want to sleep in a more hidden spot, walk to the south end of the beach and string you hammock in the trees here.
8. String your hammocks, collect some dry wood, make a fire and get in the water. Watch the sunset whilst you enjoy your BBQ jerk chicken. I have seen local fishermen here before, maybe ask if you can buy a fish from them and roast it over the fire!!
9. Make sure you carry any rubbish out with you and leave the beach clean. Keep your towel handy and keep your shoes off whilst you walk the beach as you have to cross a deep stream at the end of the beach to start the coastal trail.
10. Follow the purple ribbons along the trail that takes you alongside the swamp, through a coconut 'graveyard' (F) and to a track. There are cattle roaming free here...the bull didn't bat an eyelid when I passed him. Turn right when you meet the track. Follow this track all the way to the windward coastline. This whole route is well trodden and mostly marked, it will take you all the way to Tucks Beach (G).
11. Walk the beach, across the stoney section in the middle dodging the waves. Approximately 100m from the rocky section there will be an opening into the jungle (H). Follow the pathway until you get to the cliff edge and see Randevousx Beach. The trail will guide you down to the beach, you won't be able to access the beach here because there is a barbed wire fence. 'Handrail' the fence along the brook, keeping right until you reach a pond (I).
12. When you reach the track there will be a channel (to prevent livestock escaping) which you will walk through, it is beside a locked gate. Follow the dirt road in an easterly direction until you reach the turn off for Turtle Bay (J).
13. Nearly there, follow this trail all the way to civilisation and the rewarding views of the entrance to Falmouth Harbour...the finish line. Make note of the switch back (K) its not obvious when you are there.
14. Finally, follow the road back to town. Stop at Sweeties for a reviving milkshake. Get ready for some cold beers followed by a solid nights sleep back in your bunk!
Leave someone a copy of your route plan and an agreed time of return. When you can, check in with them and let them know how are you are getting on. There is signal in most places on this route, however it is important not to rely on this. It is very important that you inform them of your plan of action in the case of an emergency. Please make note of the emergency services contacts and carry suitable medical supplies (see medical kit list).
Manchioneel. Tree - This large poisonous tree grows commonly behind Antigua’s beaches. The fruit resembles a small green apple. The Caribs took the white sap of a broken twig and spread it on their arrowheads as poison. An immediate antidote is seawater. Do not touch any part of the tree or stand under it in the rain, as the sap from the fruit is poisonous and can cause painful blistering. If you do accidentally find you are under a tree wash yourself immediately in the nearest source of water.
Paper Wasps - Found in the trees. If you are swinging a machete you may provoke them. Their stings are quite painful and can produce a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction in some individuals. I advise wearing long sleeves and long trousers.
Centipede - Very black and anything up to a few inches long, these creatures are not often seen but their bite can be painful.
Tarantulas -Horse Spiders: very rarely seen, not poisonous. The most common time to see them is following VERY heavy rains when their holes in the ground become flooded.
Dogs - be alert. Dogs here are used as guard dogs.
Sunburn - wear suncream and a hat
Heat Stroke - Wear a hat and carry a sufficient water supply. It is hot and humid. I advise carrying a minimum of 3L per person.
Check the weather:
www.weather.com - for maps of the area
www.caribwx.com - excellent for anyone out on the water or planning to be.
www.intellicast.com - excellent site to use during the hurricane season with reports updated daily on any storms and their predicted paths.
EMERGENCY - All: 911 or 999
AIR/SEA RESCUE - 462-3062
AMBULANCE / HOSPITAL - Queen Elizabeth Highway Tel. 462-0251
ADELIN CLINIC - 462-0866/7
FIRE - Factory Road, Tel 462-0044
MOUNT ST. JOHN'S - Tel 484-2700
MEDICAL EMERGENCIES - 999, 911 or 562-2433
POLICE - American Road Tel 462-0125
OFFICE OF DISASTER PREPAREDNESS - American Road Tel 462-4402
LET ME KNOW HOW YOU GET ON
GET IN TOUCH TO ASK ME A QUESTION