Mount Liamuiga Volcano Crater Trail ascends natural staircases of packed earth, rocks and entwined roots. Due to the elevation and oceanic breezes, mosquitoes and flies aren’t a problem. Sit on a toppled tree and you might get an ant bite, but snake encounters are rare. The tropical canopy shades hikers from intense sun.
Along the seven-hour roundtrip trek, Pereira points to vines used as aphrodisiacs, plants harvested by voodoo men, and floating kapok seedpods. Believed to bestow good luck, they inspired the Avatar seeds of Eywa. Huge buttressed roots, big enough to hide basketball all-stars, bolster trees, some up to 150 feet high and 300 years old. “This is an example of nature’s innate intelligence,” says the guide. “Trees grow these roots to stabilize on slopes, enduring winds and storms.”
Reasons to stay quiet become apparent: St. Christopher bullfinches, thumbnail-sized frogs chirping outsized mating calls and petite vervet monkeys foraging walnut-size mangos.
“Hear the hammer hitting an anvil? That’s the mountain blacksmith cricket.” Pereira’s stops for earth science lessons are welcomed by hikers craving knowledge, photo opportunities and rest-stops. It’s essential to drink along the way — plain water, not soft drinks or alcohol.
LIMING IN THE CLOUDS
Beyond cloud forest level, the volcano’s rim offers spectacular views in every direction.
Climbing up boulders, I find a seat on the jagged Devil’s Tooth rock formation. “Heaven’s penthouse” aptly describes the views: shimmering sea, pure-blue skies, cottony clouds. In the distance, a mountain on St. Eustatius rises through the mist like a vision.
You don’t get views like this on hotel treadmills.
Another rocky perch faces a mile-wide crater dubbed the Giant’s Salad Bowl, a cue for eating my veggie sandwich. “The last verified eruptions from the volcano were 1,600 years ago,” says Pereira. Rich soil left by those lava flows supports a patchwork quilt of greenery plunging to the crater floor.
After descending to the volcano’s base, Pereira pulls celebratory snacks from a cooler: fresh guava juice, passionfruit with local rum and a local ginger-coconut confection. Blue skies arc the glittering waves on the not-so-distant shore. This is liming.
Robin Soslow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org