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St. Kitts Volcano Crater Hike

Forget the beaches, Mt. Liamuiga is waiting for you!

Say St. Kitts and images of white sandy beaches, swaying palms and turquoise blue waters come to mind. Ready to go off-beach and really see what the island is all about?

buttressed tropical tree rootLet me introduce you to Mt. Liamuiga - a 3000 ft volcano. She hasn't breathed fire for almost 2000 years, but a hike to the rim proves she's still as mighty as ever.

After a winding drive through St. Kitts, we started our 2-3 hour trek upwards. The first hour passed easily beneath banyan trees and more vines than Tarzan could ever hope to swing. Our guide, who hikes the volcano 3-4 times a week, pointed out which plants can save a life and which ones can end one.

tricky crater hikeHe told us about the mongoose, brought over by the English to control the snake population. What the Brits didn't know is that mongoose also have a taste for tropical bird eggs, which explained the eerie quiet as we hiked. No parrots or tropical birds on the island, but plenty of mongoose.

As we neared the rim, the slope pitched dramatically and the chit chat changed to determined concentration. At points it felt as if we were climbing straight up, grasping at roots and trunks to keep us from falling backward.

the ascent to the craters edgeBy the time we reached the top, we had peeled down to our last layers and were no longer trying to hide the deep breathing.

But it was worth all the scratches and muddy knees. At the rim (3000 ft) we looked into a 700 ft crater. The lake at the base of the bowl looked sweet enough to bathe in.

is that a mongoose?The precipice was too narrow for the entire group, and while we waited for the other half to catch their glimpse of Eden I found another trail that led further upwards. I convinced a few others to come exploring. What we found was even more beautiful than the first view.

From our vantage point, the volcano seemed to breathe her delight at being discovered so completely.

view from the craterAnd yes, our guide scolded us for not staying put, but it's hard to muster an apology after a gift like that.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches, muffins and water, we began our decent, which turned out to be even trickier. My partner, along with a few others, sailed across muddy roots and rocks, earning them more than a few battle scars. By the end of our 6 hour trek my thigh muscles had all but seized up and each step down became an internal negotiation.

summiting Mt. LiamuigaIf you plan to go, be forewarned that the hike is strenuous and tricky to maneuver. You won't see much wildlife, but narrow ledges, tree roots and mud-covered trails will keep you working hard the entire time.

Greg's Safaris offer tours that include picnics at the rim and celebratory rum and juice at the end of the hike. The company is endorsed by a number of resorts on the island, cruise ships, major travel publications and us.

Are you an active adventurer? Do you seek to explore unique vantages or natural wonders? Drop us a comment below on one of your favorite adventures and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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