Guadeloupe,waterfall, National Park
Andreas M. Gross/© Andreas M. Gross
Covering nearly two thirds of Basse-Terre island, Guadeloupe National Park is an astounding 54,000 acres of lush rain forest, plus offshore mangrove and coral reefs. Some of the island’s best-known sights are inside the park, including active La Grande Soufrière volcano at its center, 4,800 feet above sea level. The park also contains famous waterfalls like Carbet Falls and the Cascade aux Ecrevisses, and Les Bains Jaunes thermal pool is a refreshing swim after conquering one the park’s many hiking trails. Nature lovers will swoon over the 800-plus species of flora and fauna here, ranging from orchids to bats to the endangered agouti (a type of small rodent). You can explore Guadeloupe National Park on your own or go with an outfitter like Vert Intense, an eco-friendly operation that knows every inch of this vast green escape, and also offers canyoning.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this national park is a blend of tropical rain forest, coastal forest and mangrove swamps, covering an area of some 18,800 hectares (more than 46,000 acres). Within its borders you’ll find 300 species of trees, 270 fern varieties and 100 kinds of orchids. Hike the lush, wooded trails to see all manner of birds, mammals and insects. If you’re short on time, make the park’s gorgeous waterfalls your priority. Best bets: either the Cascade aux Écrevisses (which sounds so much more appealing than the English translation, “Crayfish Falls”), or the three falls that make up the Chutes de Carbet.