Since our arrival here in August 2021, we have truly enjoyed hiking in Guadeloupe. The link below leads to a new page where we have gathered all our hiking experiences on this beautiful island. We also provide dedicated articles and a map showcasing the various hiking options in Guadeloupe and its islands. Additionally, you can download the GPS tracks for all the hikes we have completed. That’s it! By the way, if you’re searching for a pleasant and moderately challenging hike during your Guadeloupe vacation, I recommend exploring the Chute du Galion at the base of the Soufrière volcano. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the tropical forest.
Let’s return to the topic of this article: the journey to the famous Canyon Moustique. I stumbled upon this place while searching for enjoyable weekend walks. The only issue was that it wasn’t exactly a walk; it was more of a water adventure. In other words, we had to swim! Mélanie and I took advantage of my parents’ two-week vacation to embark on this hike with our group of friends, with whom we often spent our weekends in the forest.
For your information, the name of the walk is derived from the river’s name, the Moustique, which originates from the heart of the Guadeloupe National Park near Morne Moustique. The trail is situated in the Petit-Bourg commune on the island of Basse-Terre.
Alright, let’s go! Allow me to guide you through this breathtaking canyon, which offers a unique experience distinct from our usual weekend activities in Guadeloupe. As usual, you’ll find all the practical details about this journey at the bottom of the page (duration, difficulty, GPS track, etc.).
If you’re interested in exploring another stunning location in Guadeloupe, I recommend visiting the Bain des Amours.
I thoroughly researched the hiking trail and sought the path to the starting point. However, the information I found on the website was outdated. Let me explain further, but please note that the traditional route from Duquerry is no longer accessible. Instead, we opted for the Boucle de Desbordes trail.
After carefully considering this route change, we decided to navigate through the forest since there was no established GPS track. The descent is steep and challenging in the early forest section. Fortunately, one of our group members encountered other hikers who knew an excellent alternative path to reach the Canyon de la Moustique.
To ensure accuracy, I activated my GPS to record the track, which you can download at the end of this article. By following our footsteps, you can explore the trail exactly as we did (currently safe). We embarked from the parking lot at Boucle de Desbordes, passing two houses upstream, and entered the breathtaking forest. Within five minutes, we reached the Duquerry crossing, which was just a small stream easily crossed without getting your feet wet. There is no chance of getting lost here, as a sign with a red arrow clearly indicates the way, and the trail is clearly visible.
The path ascends to a plateau offering stunning views of the surrounding area and grazing cows. Luckily, the weather is pleasant. We walk for about 10 to 15 minutes on a dirt track until we reach a point labeled as 211m on the IGN map. This is where the challenging part begins. Turn right into the forest and start descending the 50m high slope, which is very steep. The initial section of the path is not overly steep, but it gradually becomes more difficult as we proceed. In fact, it’s not really a defined path but rather a long descent on an extremely steep slope. It is a combination of mud, roots, rocks, and trees that need to be carefully navigated. We move slowly, each of us doing our best to avoid slipping or spraining an ankle. Please note that I don’t recommend this trail for children. We encountered people with children in the canyon who had chosen a different route.
After descending for half an hour, we finally catch sight of the renowned Moustique River at the base of the slope. As always along the riverbanks in Guadeloupe, the place has a truly enchanting ambiance with lush tropical vegetation that delights the eyes. We need to cross the river at this point. During our visit, it was possible to cross without getting our feet wet, but that detail becomes insignificant when you consider the subsequent 300-meter swim. Once we crossed the river, we continued along the visible path on the right bank (left side as we ascended). We walked alongside the river (which was dry) until we reached the famous entrance to the canyon, and I must say, it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Although there was a group of approximately 10 people returning, I must confess that I would have preferred not to encounter anyone upon our arrival. Nevertheless, I can overlook that. This place is truly magnificent. We gaze upon the entrance to this gorge, which seems to emerge out of nowhere. At the top of the canyon, there is a body of water, and the vegetation is abundant and vibrant. Immense butterfly-like leaves and white spikes adorn the canyon walls, creating a stunning tapestry of greenery.
We are all getting ready for the canyon because the water depth increases rapidly from this point onward, making it impossible to walk. I’ll provide more details in the practical section, but make sure to have waterproof bags to keep your belongings dry. I really hope my camera gear doesn’t get wet, so I carefully place my Sony A7III, lenses, and tripod in a waterproof bag. I wouldn’t miss the chance to capture some stunning shots in this canyon. The entrance surprises us with its cool water temperature. After about twenty meters, swimming becomes necessary. As for the descent, everyone manages with their belongings as best they can. I push my backpack to the surface, where I’ve placed my waterproof bag for convenience. Our entire group enters the canyon, which turns to the right. In the middle of our journey, when we look up, we feel incredibly small. A beautiful wall of vegetation lies ahead, covering steep slopes. After a short bend and five minutes of swimming, we can already see the exit of the canyon. Ultimately, the swimming section is quite brief, lasting around 5 to 10 minutes. Take your time and appreciate the place. The river doesn’t have a strong current, so that’s not a real issue. However, for a while in the middle of the canyon, you won’t be able to touch the ground. If you think about it, the only risk of bringing children here would be the descent along the path we took. It would have been possible to cross the canyon with my 6-year-old son Louis, who can swim well.
To exit the canyon, we pass through a small waterfall surrounded by two massive rocks. The scenery is truly breathtaking, and we thoroughly enjoy taking in the surroundings. Most of the group slowly moves upstream to savor this moment. I take advantage of the opportunity to set up my tripod and camera for a series of long exposure shots in the canyon. Thankfully, nothing gets wet. However, as I write this article, I realize I should invest in a proper waterproof backpack to store my belongings, especially my camera gear. It’s essential for me to continue capturing great pictures during our water hikes in Guadeloupe. For now, I’ve been using my reliable Ortlieb waterproof bag, which has served me well for years, placed inside a 45L bag from Decathlon. But it’s not ideal since the latter isn’t waterproof, and water accumulates at the bottom of the bag… I’ll share what I ended up purchasing in the end.
I admit, sometimes I let others go ahead so I can focus on capturing photos. It’s truly delightful to witness the vibrant vegetation clinging to the rocky walls. When we exit the canyon, the riverbed expands before us, allowing us to navigate upstream with relative ease. The choice is yours, but personally, I believe it’s worthwhile to venture upstream along the mountainside. Just be cautious not to slip on the rocks. By the way, I plan on purchasing new hiking boots equipped with reliable crampons.
Regardless, I take pleasure in capturing beautiful shots throughout the journey, even though it can be a bit cumbersome maneuvering with my tripod and attached camera. Ten minutes further ahead, we discover a picturesque spot where a fallen tree spans the entire width of the river. It’s truly an aesthetically pleasing sight. We decide to continue upstream for another ten minutes before pausing for a while. However, I believe the group is too large to keep everyone motivated, especially without knowing what lies ahead. Examining the contour lines on the IGN 1:25,000 map, I’m uncertain if it’s worthwhile to continue all the way up the Moustique River. The riverbed further upstream is still considerably wider than our current location, indicating that the chances of finding another canyon like the one we just crossed are slim.
Ultimately, we choose to have a picnic right where we are. Honestly, the scenery is magnificent, and we’re fortunate to bask in the sunshine. This place makes us happy. We turn around and retrace our steps through the canyon. On the return journey, we encounter more people compared to our initial trek. I highly recommend embarking on this hike early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Although it’s not a conventional tourist route, there may still be a fair number of locals.
The return journey, especially the climb to the plateau, can really strain our legs, although it may seem less tiring than the descent. We finally reached the car park. In the end, the walking part of this hike is not very long, but the challenge lies in the extremely steep and unconventional descent. The canyon itself is not a problem as long as you have waterproof bags and know how to swim!
I hope you enjoyed the walk and the photos. If you have any questions about the hike or if you know of an alternate route, please let me know, and I’ll include it on the map. If you want to relax on beautiful sandy beaches, I recommend crossing the Mamelles road and heading to the beaches near Deshaies.
- Difficulty Level: Medium to difficult due to the steep and challenging descent and crossing a gorge (it’s not your typical hike, you got it!).
- Duration: Approximately 3 hours for the round trip if you take your time walking back upstream on the other side of the canyon.
- Distance: Around 4km round trip
- Type: Water walk
- Season: Avoid the rainy season
- Download GPS track: Here it is!
To locate the place, you can refer to the IGN map provided. It’s taken from our overall map of walks in Guadeloupe. Feel free to explore other walks in the area as well.
If you’re in the area and want to explore Guadeloupe as well as other beautiful places, I have some recommendations for you:
- Valombreuse Garden: It’s a stunning botanical garden, perfect for a leisurely walk with your family. It’s slightly smaller than Deshaies Botanical Garden, but equally enchanting in my opinion.
- Le Saut de la Lézarde: One of the most famous waterfalls in Guadeloupe. It’s a quick stop rather than a proper hike.
- Le Saut du Bras du Fort: Another delightful walk that you can enjoy with your family. You can also have a picnic by the river.
- Take a stroll on the Traversière Road, which is nearby and very pleasant when the weather is good. You can make a short stop at “Ecrevisse Waterfall” (a tourist spot, but it only takes 2 minutes to walk there). Alternatively, you can explore the river trails around the House of the Forest, which offer beautiful walks and a chance to discover the local fauna. There are also several food stalls available on-site.
Don’t forget to visit the Chutes de Moreaux as well!
Here are some practical details for your visit.
First and foremost, you need to travel to Guadeloupe. If you’re coming from France, the cheapest flights are usually available from Paris, starting at around €400 if you’re flexible with your dates. However, there are also direct flights from certain provincial towns. You have three main airlines to choose from: Corsair, Air France, and Air Caraïbes.
Once you’re there, renting a car is essential. Guadeloupe is too large to explore on foot, and public transportation is somewhat unreliable, although there are buses available in theory.
Finding the drive itself is not so easy. As mentioned earlier in the article, the “classic” route I saw on another website is no longer possible to follow. The track I have uploaded, which you can see on the map above, is safe and does not appear to have any issues. The other road from Duquerry, then Gropiot and Poirier (on the IGN map) is private, and the gate was closed when we passed by. It’s up to you whether you want to go through or not, but it is clearly stated that it is a private road and not recommended.
To make it simple, you need to go to Petit-Bourg, on the east coast of Basse-Terre Island, and then head towards Duquerry. Park at the starting point of the Boucle de Desbordes hike. Here is the exact route from Petit-Bourg. Once you reach the parking lot, go back the way you came for about 100m and take a right turn just before the big white house with the red roof. From there, you can easily follow the GPS track.
I will spend a bit more time on this than usual because it is a water hike, and you will have the opportunity to swim and bathe. So, I highly recommend bringing a waterproof bag, or even better, a waterproof backpack. I bought one here in Guadeloupe, and it has been very reliable so far.
It is essential to have it to carry your picnic, water, phone, car keys, GPS, camera, and so on. It can also come in handy for other activities during your stay in Guadeloupe, such as kayaking or paddling in the Grand Cul de Sac Marin in the mornings.
A few final words. If you are in the area and want to stay overnight, there are a number of very nice places to stay. A small selection to give you some ideas:
- La vallée de Diane, a perfectly located gîte,
- Villa Bois Rose, a well known house with quality guests,
- L’Anoli Lodge, an apartment close to the sea with a swimming pool!
I’m coming to the end of this article about the Moustique River Canyon. It is a very special hike and very different from the classic hikes we usually do during our weekends. If you are looking for an equally beautiful waterfall, I invite you to discover the Paradis waterfall in the commune of Vieux-Habitants. It is a beautiful volcanic testimony with beautiful basalt organs at the foot of the waterfall. I must confess that I (we) are more than happy not to live on the island of Grande-Terre. We prefer to discover these natural beauties! During your trip to Guadeloupe, don’t hesitate to take a little tour of Guadeloupe to discover all its facets!
See you soon and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have already done this walk and what you thought of it. If you have any suggestions for other itineraries, I’d love to hear them!
See you soon!