I’m always scared of hard hikes. Actually, maybe scared isn’t the right word to use. My unease stems from a sense of performance anxiety so I guess what I really am is nervous when it comes to hard hikes.
I know I can do them but I also know I have to do it at my own pace. I’m not the faster hiker but what I lack in speed, I more than make up for in patience and determination (which I tend to disguise with cleverly planned photo stops to catch my breath! 😆).
The morning we were due to hike up to Mount Liamuiga, an extinct volcano in St Kitts, I woke up with that sense of nervousness – coupled with excitement.
FYI, this hike is totally doable if you’re able to scale rocks but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t the physically hardest hike I’d ever done. In retrospect, I think it would have been so much easier if I wasn’t carrying all my camera stuff with me. Those things are heavy even at the best of times let alone when you’re carrying lots of water with you and hiking uphill at the same time.
Thankfully, you’re in the shade almost the entire time so the heat isn’t as much a concern on this hike (it’s still pretty hot though – if you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right).
Our guide is something of a marvel in himself. At over 60 years old, O’Neill is one of the fittest men you’ll ever meet! This hike is nothing to him and he does it with the ease of a kid eating candy.
You’re there puffing and panting and O’Neill is barely breaking a sweat. He’s also one of the kindest and most generous people we got to meet on the island. You’re supposed to bring your own stuff with you on the hike but O’Neill will happily share his – even his food and drinks, if you find yourself lacking.
And he’s so knowledgeable about pretty much everything here!
Eventually, you get to the top and that view from the top makes it all worth it! We’re talking getting to a point where the mountains kiss the clouds and being able to see right down to the lake that sits at the bottom of this one fiery volcano. It’s incredible!
A long time ago, the Europeans introduced the mongoose to get rid of the rats (which they also introduced to the islands). They’d tried other things before but only these mongoose seem capable of attacking and getting rid of the rats.
Only problems was rats are nocturnal and mongooses are active during the day so their paths don’t cross as often. What the mongoose ended up doing was raiding the nests of a lot of the local birds and wiping out indigenous birds from the islands. The island now has both mongoose and rats.
Up at the top though, there are some rather inquisitive mongoose that pop out to ‘say hello’ (they disappeared before I could reach for my camera and when they showed up again, I was just too exhausted to even attempt to reach for my camera and do all that hassle with swapping lens).
Oh and by saying hello, I mean they’re here for the crumbs left over from your picnic (or if they’re really lucky a rogue bread bun that goes falling down the hill).
In any case, this is probably one of the few places you can get to seeing what these mongoose look like close up.
Eventually, we started to make our way back down and this was the only time I was able to keep up with O’Neill (actually at points, I went past him because surprisingly, as good as Lloyd is at uphill hiking, he’s not that great at the downhill part so O’Neill slowed down his pace a bit for Lloyd).
Knees trembling and calf muscles aching but thoroughly delighted at being able to have completed the hike, we made our way back to Ocean Terrace where we a shower was absolutely needed, followed by a dip in the pool….and another shower before heading out for a more relaxed evening in St Kitts.
Tonight would be all about a sunset cruise around the island and I was more than ready.
We set sail to the most dramatic of skies – beautiful orange hues on one side and dark grey rain clouds making they way over on the other.
After a little while, the rain kicked in properly but thankfully didn’t last too long (I had a rum punch pretty much the entire cruise so I was fine either ways 😉 ).
Soon enough, the sun came back out, glowing even more orange as it made is way beneath the horizon.
Many-a rum punch later, we were back on land and making our way over to Fisherman’s Wharf for Lobster dinner (for me) and Chicken (for Lloyd) before having one of the deepest sleeps I’d had on the island!
My muscles ached so much for that hike earlier on but the sense of achievement I had – along with the new bragging rights – made this one of the most memorable times I’d had on not just St Kitts but on any Caribbean island I’d ever visited.