Dominica: Morne Diablotin/Syndicate
Parrot Preserve Trails
|The two share a common trailhead.
Length: The Syndicate Trail is a 0.8-mile loop. The peak walk takes several hours.
Time: It is a 20-30 minute walk from the car park to the beginning of the Syndicate Trail. From this point, it is about 3 hours to the summit of Morne Diablotin and another 2 hours back.
Difficulty: For the Syndicate Trail, 1-2; to the summit, 3-4. Steepness is what makes the summit hike moderately difficult. Also, in the last 45 minutes to the top you may have to do some tricky scrambling.
Trailhead: Take the main coastal road to Portsmouth on the northwest coast. Before Portsmouth , and just north of the village of Dublanc is a signposted turn to the right. It's a 30 minute drive from the signpost to a small hut on the left hand side of the road in the Syndicate Estate. This marks the crossroads for several trails. Take the left fork for both the Syndicate and summit trails.
Making the walk more than worthwhile is the 0.75-mile loop trail within the Syndicate Parrot Preserve, an annex of the park. The short side trail to the Parrot Lookout, where you may be fortunate enough to see Dominica's 2 endangered parrots.
The path follows the Picard River gorge and has 3 overlooks for sighting the 2 birds: The imperial parrot (or sisserou), the largest Amazon parrot in the world, and the more abundant red-necked parrot (or jaco).
Best times for parrot watching are sunrise and sunset. Distinguishing the two from a distance is not difficult. The imperial parrot, the larger bird, has a modulated call that rises and falls while the red-necked parrot emits a high-pitched squawk.
After the parrot walk, there is the matter of the Morne Diablotin trail that continues on to the summit from the turnoff to the parrot preserve.
At 4,747 feet, Morne Diablotin is Dominica's highest peak and the second highest in the Lesser Antilles . The path starts gradually and then turns steep, remaining that way to the summit.
You'll have spectacular views as you climb from rain forest through montane forest into elfin woodland. This superb montane forest is home to many bird species: tremblers, red-necked pigeons, forest thrush and blue headed hummingbirds. Also keep an eye out for agouti and wild pig.
If it's a clear day, at the summit you'll see the mountains of Trois Pitons, the town of Portsmouth, Rupert Bay and the Cabrits peninsula. Guadeloupe (to the north) and Martinique (south) may also be visible.