Take a Hike… In Jamaica of Course!

Committing to a hike can be a daunting task especially for beginners. You want to challenge yourself , get out in nature , do something new , be adventurous and all that jazz but then something goes off in your head ….. OMG , what did I get myself into?

You start thinking of all the reasons you shouldn’t or can’t go. What if I’m not fit enough and can’t finish the climb?

What if  I fall?

Every negative thought went through my head but I decided to silence my inner critic and take on my first hike.

Jamaica has many hiking opportunities that are hardly explored.The mountainous landscapes provides great challenges but offer magnificent rewards of basking in the beauty and tranquility of nature. Blue Mountain Peak is the highest point on the island and one of the highest in the Caribbean . It is 7402 ft above sea level and in 2015 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is known for one of the best coffee in the world. You can visit coffee farms, stay in small and cozy cottages as well as small rivers and waterfalls. Bird watching is also another activity that can be explored as the mountains is home to many exotic species of birds like the Jamaican Hummingbird.  Although I have visited cottages in the mountains , I have never been to the peak .

For 2016, Jamaica Hiking and Heritage Tours  has a scheduled hike at the end of each month. The hikes are labeled Fitness Series 2016 and run from January to November , exploring a different trail with each hike.

I psyched myself into attending the first one this year in an effort to challenge and improve my fitness level as well as to explore a new area. I love visiting the mountains and there are so many different trails and small communities to learn about. I was able to convince a friend to join the insanity. We’ve done 5k walks before but this would be our longest distance yet and definitely  the most challenging.

The hike was a 6 mile/ 10k trek from the community of GordonTown to Raf Jam Bed and Breakfast in Redlight, St. Andrew . The area is also a part of the Blue & John Crow Mountains.

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Our guide was as informative as he was entertaining . The first thing he said was, “you’re only as good as this hike, so your last work out or your last hike doesn’t matter. ” I guess the month I spent killing myself on the maximum incline on the treadmill at the gym wasn’t going to save me now .

 

He kept our spirits up along the way as well as telling us the importance of the various sites we were passing by. We hiked through a section of the trail used by British Soldiers and Naval Officers  marching from Kingston Harbour to New Castle. Today , the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) sometimes use the trail for training their officers.  We visited the St. Mark’s Anglican Church, a church which  dates back to the 1800s. It was once a church that only planters/plantation owners could attend. The church cemetery even houses the graves of some of it’s former members from that time.

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The best thing about visiting St. Marks was this amazing vista!

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and the feeling of accomplishment knowing I silenced my fears.

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It took about three hours, a short journey down the hill from St. Marks, a couple of signs…..

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but we finally made it to Rafjam for well deserved rest, relaxation

and food…..!

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The weather was great , there was a small water fall and river pool there but all I wanted to do was just sit and chill before we made the journey back to Gordon Town.

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I was sore for a couple of days but I conquered my mountain.

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HIKING ITINERARY FOR 2016

A YAHSO WI A GUH
JAN 30 – Gordon Town to Red Light
FEB 27 – Dallas Castle to Flamstead
MAR 26 – Cinchona to Clydesdale
APR 30 – Devon Pen to Camberwell
MAY 28 – Gordon Town to Holywell
JUN 25 – Cunha Cunha Pass Heritage Trail
JUL 30 – Blue Mountain Peak Day Hike
AUG 27 – Red Light to Cascade Waterfalls
SEP 24 – Clifton Mount to Newcastle
OCT 29 – Bull Head Mountain
NOV 26 – Blue Mountain Peak Night Hike

For more info check Jamaica Hiking and Heritage Tours  on Facebook. You can also reach out to me for the guide’s contact. I suspect he can arrange a personalized trip. Happy Hiking!

Janeen

Janeen is a Travel Writer based in Kingston, Jamaica. Her work has been published in the UK, Germany and Jamaica as well as various online publications. She is also a contributing writer to Our Jamaica Magazine, the official guide for the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association. Follow her @drylandtourist

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