After six years spent in French Polynesia (yes, we love overseas), it was time for a change. As I write these few lines, we just arrived 15 days ago on the island of Guadeloupe, in the French Caribbean (West Indies), after a long trip from Papeete to Paris and finally Pointe-à-Pitre. I won’t tell you here why we made this decision, but we needed to get closer to our family and, above all, to live a new experience. In this article, which is our first one about the Guadeloupean territory, we’ll introduce you to one of the first places we had the chance to see: the Bassin Bleu. It is a magnificent spot nestled in the depths of a beautiful tropical forest. No need to go on an excursion with a guide for this walk, it can be done easily alone.
Knowing that we were under lockdown when we arrived in Guadeloupe, we were allowed to go out only within in a radius of 5km – which is quite convenient for this small family hike. It is then with pleasure that we decided to go on this beautiful discovery, after having done some research on the Internet to see the places and know how to get there. Of course, we are not on vacation here in Guadeloupe (since we came to live here), but it is also a good opportunity to visit this volcanic paradise island. If you want to explore another great area, here is the Cascade du Paradis hike in Vieux-Habitants.
On the program: the discovery of the interior of Guadeloupe, and more precisely of the island of Basse Terre, the southern part of Guadeloupe, which is much more hilly, lush, and green than Grande Terre, in the north. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we will indeed be living on Basse Terre. For now, from what we could have seen, we are truly happy to be on this part of Guadeloupe, which seems to be less developed, greener, more natural, more earth/cascade/river/falls oriented. And all this with easily accessible black/golden sand beaches, very nice, without having to drive too long! That’s great! The beautiful turquoise beaches/lagoons will rather be found on the Grande Terre, but that’s okay! We also realize that the island is full of many trails, botanical gardens, and small walks suitable for the whole family. By the way, I think we are going to write more and more small articles about our family weekends’ walks!
Anyway, back to the Bassin Bleu. I’ll explain in the practical corner, as always (at the bottom of the article), everything you need to know to do this walk, as well as how to get there. The Bassin Bleu is located at the entrance of the Guadeloupe National Park, very famous for the Soufriere Volcano, on the Commune of Gourbeyre, in the south of Basse Terre Island. This hike starts at 550m above sea level, on the famous Plateau du Palmiste. Come on, let’s go!
We spent the first three weeks in an Airbnb located on the heights of Saint-Claude. We are then not very far from the start of the hike. Once arrived on Gourbeyre, we head to the Plateau du Palmiste, a sector located above the town, more than 500m above sea level. We go up by a steep road in laces. By the way, a point of view on the sector is indicated in one of the laces, but we do not stop, because of the overcast weather. It’s quite funny to see many houses at this altitude, on a completely flat area. It’s nice here, air seems much cooler.
We arrive at a parking where the hike begins, located at the foot of the Mornes Lenglet and Graine Verte. I must admit that the weather is so threatening that we almost think about leaving, especially since it is already falling some drops. Nevertheless, we give it a try! Equipped with our great hiking bag to carry Teo, and of course with my camera equipment, we start the walk on a tarred road. Then, we go down on a ground road bordering fields on both sides. Even if the weather is not really great, we still already feel a quite nice atmosphere, in particular thanks to very big ferns. Every now and then, we could even feel like we were in New Zealand. After 10 minutes, we begin the path that enters this “small tropical garden” (as I like to call it). We cross the small gully “Bois Blanc”, which hardly flows. This entrance to the forest is hard to describe, but there’s something about it, a beautiful tropical atmosphere with moss, ferns and huge trees around us.
We follow the path that goes into the forest, quietly and without too much difficulty, towards the mountain at the valley’s end. I take pleasure in shooting with my Sony A7III and several lenses I just bought, in real forest conditions, while discovering the fauna and flora (I found quite a lot of butterflies since we are here). I must get to grips with the beast! The vegetation is dense, and it really marked us with Melanie since we arrived on Basse-Terre. According to where we are, and if we disregard the ambient heat, we wouldn’t even believe we’re in the tropics, as we were used to see coconut trees around us all the time. Here, we are in a really dense forest, and if we take time to look at what surrounds us, abundance is really here. I have to buy a book on the fauna and flora in Guadeloupe. We pass immense trees, which shelter us when it sometimes starts to rain. There’s a good reason I decided to buy a macro lens: to be able to highlight all details…
The path is wide and well maintained. It’s almost flat, no problem with the baby carrier and the children. Even if I can imagine that when you come here after big showers, the path must be full of mud. For us, it’s still reasonable. The path finally narrows to go along the river “le Galion”, at the origin of the basin we will find above. A last step over a fallen tree in the middle of the path and we finally see the place, “from a distance” at first. The path goes along a flat area which is the floodplain of the river. Sorry, it’s my geographer side that stands out, but it is kind of the area that is really flooded during strong floods. There are piles of rocks and boulders everywhere. Many locals gather here to enjoy the place, swimming in this idyllic setting, at the foot of two waterfalls flowing along the exposed rocks. I think I’ll try to come back with good weather conditions to see better the basin’s colors, but the polarizing filter helps a lot to make the beautiful color of the water pop.
The setting is gorgeous, in the middle of greenery. Louis tries a bathing in this beautiful, arranged basin at the foot of the rocks, at the edge of the mountain. We are too sensitive to the cold to consider the idea with Melanie (there are several places on the island with hot springs, we will rather try that!). We only dunk our feet, that’s a start! We will spend one hour here enjoying the place with the family. The basin would have a depth of approximately 2m. Upstream of the basin, we can observe small waterfalls pouring there. I didn’t go any higher than the ropes, but apparently there are other pools a little higher up with quite the same color. I’ll tell you about it next time I go back, without fail. From here, you can apparently reach the famous Cascade Parabole via an hour-long walk through the forest/river. And from the feedback I saw, it’s rather a water hike, but the pictures inevitably make you want to go there! The night falls, and the curfew arrives at 7pm: it’s time to go back for us! We had such a good time in this beautiful place.
If you are a waterfall fan, we suggest you to go to discover the superb Galion Waterfall. This magnificent waterfall, located at the foot of the Soufrière Volcano, is accessible after a beautiful walk in the rainforest!
- Difficulty: none, can be done with children and babies (be careful as it can be very slippery at the arrival after heavy rain)
- Duration: 1h/1h30 round trip max.
- Length: about 2 km
- Type: round trip
- Ideal: bring a small picnic for lunchtime
- Season: ideally the dry season (but can be done well during rainy season, proof is we did it)
- Not to forget: raincoat, shoes, mosquito repellent
The map below shows the area of the Bassin Bleu hike. We wrote a full page on the hikes in Guadeloupe, page that will be updated as time goes by and as we do other walks. You can also download the GPS route of the hike (.gpx format) by clicking on the link below:
I don’t know the area perfectly yet, but from what I could have seen on the maps, from here you can access:
As usual for more than 4 years now on the blog, I always add things to know at the bottom of the article.
First of all, as you can imagine, you will have to go to Guadeloupe. I also wrote a complete article to explain all the possibilities from France and the French-speaking places to come and visit Guadeloupe. But overall, from France, it is very simple. I’ve personally been using for years now the flight comparator Skyscanner, which allows me to find the cheapest dates.
From France, there are direct flights from Lyon, Bordeaux and the two Paris airports (Orly and Charles de Gaulle). I’ve just checked, and for December/January, you can find flights as low as 320€ round trip – which is really cheap! I’ll let you check this link to find the cheapest dates. Note that there are several airlines to come here (Corsair, Air France, Air Caraïbes).
From outside France, you can come from the US, Miami for example. The cheapest flights are here.
Once in Pointe-à-Pitre, you will have no other choice than to rent a car for your trip in Guadeloupe.
To get to the place, you will have to go to Basse Terre. The ideal starting point would be Saint-Claude. I give you a complete itinerary to follow from Saint-Claude to the Bassin Bleu parking.
If you have a smartphone, you can also:
- Install Maps.me App which will allow you to have offline maps. I have made a precise point of the parking here,
- Install the App “Rando Guadeloupe” (Android / Apple) on which you will find all the hikes and walks to do on the island, including the Bassin Bleu. You will need an Internet connection to view the details, but you can download walks “offline”,
- Here is also the complete track on the Wikilocs website.
There are many possibilities to stay in the area, from Airbnb to youth hostel by way of villa with pool or hotel. Of course, as we have only recently arrived, we don’t know the place well enough yet, but we have heard very good feedback from:
- BEL Z ‘IGUANE, a vacation home on Trois-Rivières, in a very beautiful setting,
- Le Jardin Malanga, a hotel that seems sublime and a few steps from our home and the Bassin Bleu,
- The Lodge Les Bananes Vertes, a marvel, “Ecolabel” in the middle of nature!
For those living in the area, do not hesitate to leave us your good addresses so that we can add them!
If you’re looking for a much more interesting (and admittedly more challenging) hike, Moustique Canyon hike is also superb in its kind!
I’m coming to the end of our first article on the Bassin Bleu in Guadeloupe. I hope that you will have enjoyed the walk and this little discovery! For all nature lovers, it is a must-do, according to us. We will keep discovering Guadeloupe as best as we can, which seems magnificent on so many points! Not to mention the other islands of Guadeloupe (Marie Galante, la Désirade, les Saintes, etc.) we can’t wait to discover! For the little that we have seen of the island so far, it is truly paradisiac, and when we see all the things to do/see here, it’s the stuff dreams are made of, isn’t it? -> white sand beaches, walks in the mangrove, swimming with turtles, seabed discovery, the Carnival, bathing in hot springs, hiking in the lush vegetation, a catamaran cruise in the surrounding islands… Well, you got it, right?
If you are looking for a great lodging on Basse-Terre, we had the opportunity to stay a few nights at the Jardin des Colibris, in Deshaies. A superb place to stay that we invite you to discover!
See you soon for new adventures,