Route de la Traversee
Many good stops along this scenic highway.

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Route de la Traversee

This route (D-23) effectively divides Basse-Terre into northern and southern halves.

Although the best hiking trails are farther south, this scenic roadway (about 16 miles) borders the Parc Naturel, providing an excellent introduction to the plants and wildlife of Guadeloupe.

Route de la Traversee offers several interesting stops and climbs you easily can do on your own without the services of a guide.

Starting at the village of Vernou (where the small hotel Auberage de la Distillerie is located), after about three miles you'll reach the carpark near the Cascade aux Ecrevisse, or ?Crayfish Waterfall.?

It's only a short walk to the picturesque waterfall plummeting into the Corossol River. Feel free to swim, but beware the very slippery rocks.

The Parc Tropical de Bras-David is just 2 miles farther on. Its small network of hiking trails takes about an hour to explore if you walk leisurely and take time to investigate the plantlife.

A small forest house has displays (in French) explaining much of the area ecology. Picnic tables make this a good place for a lengthy, restful stop.

Go another 2.5 miles to Guadeloupe's famous twin peaks, Les Mamelles, meaning "breasts."

If the thought of climbing contoured hills clearly shaped like and named after women's breasts is disturbing, you will not want to visit any of the beaches where toplessness is a casual, accepted way of life.  

Mamelle de Petit-Bourg reaches 2,350 feet while Mamelle de Pigeon peaks out at 2,600 feet. Hiking trails vary from easy to challenging for mounting the breasts.

A lookout at almost 2,000 feet up Mamelle de Pigeon is spectacular, as is the scenery in the valley running between the twin peaks.

The stone steps to the Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens require almost no effort to view turtles, iguanas and cockatoos.

Titi the Racoon is the mascot of the National Park. These animals, however, are relatively rare in the wild, so this will be one of your few chances to see one close-up. The Zoological Park is open daily 9-5; admission fee.   

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