Viewed 805 times, downloaded 15 times
near Turema, Charlotte (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
The trail up the east side starts easily and is well made. After crossing a river bed about 20 mins in the climbing gets steeper and a little more difficult but it's never hard and is very easy to follow. You can feel the vegetation change on the way up until you emerge from the forest onto the flank of the volcano itself - covered in ferns and low shrubs. After about 2 hours depending on your climb rate you reach the edge of the caldera and hopefully amazing views if you've picked a day with less cloud cover. It is usually windy and much cooler here - a lightweight jacket is very useful. You can retrace your steps from here but much better is to continue around the crater rim heading clockwise.
The trail round the crater can feel pretty exposed, especially with the wind blowing but it's not nearly as bad as it looks once you get going. Of course if it's really windy and cloud cover is total then it would be more challenging. The first part heads uphill for a short while and you then continue up and down each crest around the crater. After 30 mins or so you reach the spot where you can descend to the crater floor via a very old (but thick so probably ok) length of rope. If you don't mind the scramble down and up and have the time it would be well worth exploring the crater. The dome in the middle still smokes on the south side - would be cautious approaching here.
The descent to the west coast starts a short while after at the top of the next crest. Although not marked it's very obvious to see. It's relatively steep and there is some loose stone and ash but really not a major challenge at all. Quite suddenly after about 45 mins descent you enter the rain forest again. Here the trail has been massively improved and it really is a straightforward path to follow, The entire route more or less sticks to the top of a steep ridge and apart from a couple of short sections where the ridge narrows with steep drop offs each side is very easy to negotiate. Bamboo steps have been installed on the steepest sections.
At the bottom of the trail you arrive at a dry river bed and follow this down to the sea, between high walls of pyroclastic rock cut by the river. After this it's a 15 minute walk down the beach and across a river to the Richmond beach area.
The west to east traverse of the volcano is more challenging due to the additional climbing required and the difficulty of finding the start of the trail from the dry river bed. If you decide to do the trail this way round you may want to take a guide with you. The Richmond Vale Academy http://richmondvale.org/contact-us/ could assist with this and they also offer accommodation at this remote north end of St Vincent.
Although the hike is straightforward it does involve a considerable amount of ascent and descent and is very remote. Bear in mind that this is effectively a mountain climb and conditions can change very quickly. St Vincent is notorious for spectacular amounts of rain from time to time and extreme caution should be exercised in these conditions particularly using the dry river bed.
Getting to and from the hike - easiest to organize a taxi to drop you off and pick up on the other side. Approx cost is around US$150. Allow 1.5 hours from Blue Lagoon to east coast start point, and as much as 2.5 hours back from Richmond on west coast. Either way when doing this hike plan for a very early start to give you enough time (and a safety margin) to complete the hike.
For a video see https://youtu.be/klB3m1QE6P0