Monday, September 30, 2013

Excursion Review- Mountain Top Downhill Rainforest Trek


Have you ever looked up at a hilltop and wondered what the view would look like from up there?  Or maybe been curious about hiking thru a rainforest?  If either of those questions has ever crossed your mind, then the Mountain Top Downhill Rainforest Trek in St. Maarten is for you!
While the name Mountain Top can be a bit deceiving since St. Maarten does not technically have any mountains, this excursion does take you to the highest point in St. Maarten- Pic Paradise.  The excursion begins with a bus ride from the port to Loterie Farms.  This property was once the largest sugar cane plantation on the island, but is now a Wildlife and Nature Preserve as well as a tourist location offering many outdoor activities.
Once you arrive at the farm, you switch vehicles to an open air (think back of a pickup with benches) vehicle for the steep climb up the hill.  At the top of the hill you have an amazing 360 degree view of the entire island which is absolutely breathtaking!
From the top of this hill it is approximately 2.5 miles back down to reach the farm again. 


Along the way you get to enjoy the peaceful beauty of what was once a large rainforest (and the only on the island). During the sugar cane operations more than a hundred years ago, the slaves on the plantation were ordered to tear down the rainforest to allow more land to grow sugar cane on.  Since that time however, St. Maarten has worked very hard to bring back the lush canopy of the rainforest, and they are succeeding quite well.

Along the trek, the guides give lots of information about the native plants and creatures that you come across (don’t worry, there are actually no snakes on St. Maarten).  In addition, you learn many historical facts about the area to include a long standing feud between neighboring land owners that was similar to the Hatfields and the McCoys.  

There is also a stop at the ruins of an old secret rum distillery that was used by the slaves on the plantation as well as Chewbaca Rock- it’s ok, I giggled at the name too! Finally, after about 2 hours of hiking, you reach the bottom of the hill and are rewarded with a cold glass of either fruit punch or rum punch. 



This excursion is an amazing opportunity to see some of the beautiful natural aspects of St. Maarten, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas.  There were several children along on the hike with us; however I would not recommend it for children younger than 6 or 7 unless they are very experienced at hiking.  So if you ever find yourself stopping in St. Maarten on an Eastern Caribbean cruise, definitely give the Mountain Top Downhill Rainforest Trek a try- you won’t regret it!
The Disney Fantasy from the hilltop!

Stacy

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