Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaWe followed our crazy but exhilarating canyoning adventure in Dominica with what the Lonely Planet dubbed as the Nature Island‘s “pre-eminent trek.”  A 12-mile roundtrip hike over very steep (mostly on steps and lots of switchbacks), muddy, wet, windy, foggy, rainy terrain – the Boiling Lake hike was indeed a trail to conquer.

However, the trail is also spectacular and provides the opportunity to experience the amazing diversity of Mourne Trois Pitons National  Park, the only enlisted UNESCO World Heritage site in Eastern Caribbean.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaWe started our hike in a lush rainforest with a rather easy trail.  However, the terrain will eventually change dramatically from here.

Titou Gorge, Dominica

Looking down at the magnificent Titou Gorge from the trail. It was here where scenes from  “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed.

We were fortunate to have Nahjie, one of our excellent guides in our canyoning adventure, as our guide for this hike as well.   He grew up with the rainforest as his playground and he taught us a lot about the rainforest.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaWe were fascinated to see a lot of wild banana trees on the trailhead. But Nanjie explained that they were not bananas but “kokoys.” Unlike bananas, they need to be cooked.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaFurther down the trail, we learned more about the unique vegetations that grow abundantly in the rainforest of Dominica.  Nahjie pointed a lot of shrubs and herbs and their medicinal benefits as well as trees and their practical uses for the locals.

Vegetation along hike to Boiling LakeNahjie also pointed out some fun features in the forest like this tree trunk that looked like a cookie monster and a tree stump that was shaped like a giant claw.

Starfish shaped Fruit found along Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaWhat is a starfish doing in the rainforest?”  It actually is a fruit that looks like an apple but it looks like a starfish when it opens.

Wild Flowers (Heliconia) along Hike to Boilig Lake, DominicaPretty Heliconias grow abundantly along the trail.

Hike to Boiling Lake, Dominica

There were so many huge trees like this surrounded by hanging roots from straggler trees.  We also saw and heard rainforest birds throughout the trail as well as some small tropical animals. The good news is – nothing poisonous thrives in here!

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaNahjie channeling Tarzan.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter a steep climb the trail dropped toward Trois Piton River,  where hikers can fill their water bottles with the fresh spring water.  (Had we known that there were sources of drinkable water along the trail, we wouldn’t have lagged huge amount of water with us).

This river is also known as Breakfast River because this is normally where the hikers make their first stop to have breakfast and rest.  We shouldn’t have passed the opportunity to take a break here because for an hour or so, it was all uphill from here.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter some steep uphill stride we reached a ridge where the terrain turned into a cloud forest.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaThe view of lush mountains from the trail.

Mourne Nichols, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter about 2 hours from the trailhead we reached the cloudy and windy Mourne Nicholls, the highest point on the trail  at 3,168 ft.  We experienced some very short burst of rain up to this point.  They were so short (few seconds) that we didn’t even bother putting on rain gears (well, at least not yet).

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaThe cloud cleared up and we caught sight of the Valley of Desolation.  It looked so near but it took us another hour to get there because of the demanding trail ahead.

Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaThe descent into the Valley of Desolation was the most challenging part of the trail.  The trail winded through a very narrow ridge before it descends into very steep muddy steps with some rock scrambling. (The return trip was even more challenging. The ascent on the  steep trail was even more wet and muddy after long burst of rain).

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, Dominica Finally, we made it to the Valley of Desolation, a dramatic lunar landscape that is a volcanic area of  steam vents, fumaroles, boiling mud pots and hot springs.

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaLooks so hot and steamy, right?  We had a long burst of rain with strong wind upon reaching the valley, so we really didn’t feel the heat.

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaKeith: “Nahjie, where’s the trail?”  Nahjie: “There’s really no distinct trail in this valley that’s why you need me to guide you.”

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, Dominica Bubbling hot springs. We wished we brought some eggs to boil.

Valley of Desolation, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaLooking back at the steamy valley. It was an up and down, up and down and then up and up trail from here to the Boiling Lake.

Sulphuric River, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaOne of the sulphuric river we crossed on the way to the Boiling Lake. At this point, our shoes were so wet and muddy, we no longer bother stepping on the rocks to keep our shoes off the water; we wade through the water instead. (It cleaned our muddy shoes, too!)

Warm Sulphur Pool, Hike to Boiling Lake, DominicaA warm, sulphuric pool where hikers normally stop for a dip on their way back.

Water Source, Hike to Boiling Lake, Dominica

Another source of drinkable spring water. Nahjie placed a leaf along the source to make it easier for us to gather the water.

The Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter enduring some short and long bursts of rain and strong winds, we finally made it to the Boiling Lake.  It was enveloped with cloud of vapor upon our arrival.

The Boiling Lake, DominicaSlowly the cloud of vapor cleared up…..

The Boiling Lake, Dominica…and we finally had a clear view of the Boiling Lake. Holy cow, it was really boiling!

The lake is heated by volcanic vent which causes it to boil. This Boiling Lake is the second largest in the world. The largest is the Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand. However, the  locals argue that the Frying Pan is not really boiling, it only steams.

The Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter the trials on the trail came the tribulations of making it to our destination,  but then we were faced with the trial of hiking back on the same route. The return trek was even more challenging – more rain, more mud made the trail seemed steeper and longer.

Hike to the The Boiling Lake, DominicaAfter seven hours of a roundtrip hike, we celebrated with well-deserved refreshing Kubuli, a local beer, at the end of the trail.   We were thrilled to pass the trials of the trail and the elements . For us, this trek was all about the journey and not the destination.


Travel Notes:
• We highly recommend the services of Extreme Dominica for canyoning and hiking trips. We found their guides highly professional, well-trained and fun! Extreme Dominica has been featured in National Geographic Traveler and New York Times.


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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

66 responses to “Dominica: The Trek to the Boiling Lake

  1. Kira S.a

    Hey guys, that sounds so strenuous! But I’m surprised you look relaxed and fresh at the end of the hike. Must be the beer:)
    What an interesting trail. The change in terrain is interesting from rain forest, to cloud forest, to the lunar steamy landscpae to boiling lake. Can’t believe how much rain and mud you got. But hey, you got it cut our for you.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Kirs, we looked fresh? Oh no, not at all. We were dripping with sweat and rain. I guess the beer made us look relaxed.

  2. That looks like quite an endurance hike. I was fascinated by your story and photos, even before you reached the highlight of the boiling lake. I probably would have brought a ton of water with me, too. I think it’s interesting that the ferns and the tree with the hanging roots remind me of the the jungle treks in Malaysia.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Parc de la Villette: A Kids’ Paradise in ParisMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      HI Michelle,
      Yes, endurance is the world. So glad that enjoyed the photos and story,. This rainforest is so tropical and I’m sure it shares a lot of similar plant species with the jungle of Malaysia and other Asian countries.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Jackie, we actually pretended we were Tarzan and Jane:) Glad you liked the shots.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Muza-chan, it truly is an amazing place. I hope you can get there someday.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hey Jan, I’m sure you can do it:) Yes, the lake was really boiling and it was amazing to see it in person.

    • Traveling Solemates

      “What a trek!” – that’s exactly we said at the end of the trail.

  3. Love your blog!!! Beautiful photography 🙂

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thank you, Danielle.

  4. noel

    Wow, what a fun all day hike, and you get a nice hot mineral springs along the way, looks like a really great trek!
    noel recently posted..Travel Photo Mondays – #2My Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Noel, it was challenging but it was really fun and great trek. Looking back, we’re glad we did it.

  5. How cool it would have been if those were bananas and you could eat them on your hike? Nice photos. That natural pool is nice to relax for a while.
    Salika Jay recently posted..Top 10 Amusement Parks In The WorldMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Salika, I know. But we did another hike where we actually ate mangoes straight from the tree. It was the best mangoes we ever had. There were also a lot of banana along the trail but they were not ripe for the picking.

  6. I’ve missed reading your adventures! We were in Dominica a few years ago on a cruise ship stop and fell in love with the island. I’ve caught up with your wonderful time there on previous posts and all the other things we missed on our short visit. This hike sounds great but wow..strenuous and kudos for making it through with the conditions you faced and even with big smiles. Love the photos as always!
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Our 2013 European Castles and Palaces TourMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Mary, Wasn’t Dominica beautiful? We did fall in love with the island, too, and its people. We really miss being there. So beautiful, so many things to do and not enough time. Nice to see you back!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi, it is indeed. It’s actually the hiking capital of the Caribbean. With so many outdoorsy things to do in Dominica, it was hard not to be sporty:)

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Dick.

  7. Marcia

    Too funny: Frying Pan Lake only steams.
    This looks like a fun hike. Would love to see the boiling lake.
    Marcia recently posted..The Gumbay DrumMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      HI Marcia, I know, funny isn’t it. I hope you get to see the Boiling Lake one day. It’s really worth the hike.

  8. Danica Moran

    Wow, what an amazing trek. You guys are always such troopers. You always take all the challenging condition is stride. Your photography is beautiful.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hey Dani, that’s so sweet of you to say. You know when commit yourself to be out there, you have no choice but endure the elements that come your way. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  9. Wow – imagine growing up with the rainforest as your playground. Thankfully you guys had Nahjie! This looks like a beautiful hike, but just reading about it makes my feet feel sore! 😉
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Sydney SightingsMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hey Dana, I know, its amazing to meet someone who knows the rainforest so intimately. But hey girl, you can do this hike, no excuses!

  10. What an amazing trek! made all the more enjoyable no doubt by having such a wonderful local guide. Oh I wish I was 30 years younger!
    Thankyou for taking us along, and for stopping by my blog today.
    Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jill, our pleasure. Our guide really made our trek enjoyable.

    • Traveling Solemates

      HI Cathy, our guide really made a difference. I don’t we would have appreciated the rainforest more if not for him.

  11. BiTi

    Woah, what a trip, and it looks like you guys have been everywhere. I ‘ll definitely have to come back and browse :). Thank you for visiting our poppy field in Provence.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi BiTi, thanks for dropping by. Hope to see you here again.
      We did really enjoy your poppy field post.

  12. Kalyan

    beautiful captures…lovely place to visit!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Kalyan. It sure is lovely.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Steph, it sure was challenging. Yes, the beer was divine after the grueling trek.

  13. Dennis

    That boiling lake is so menacing – more so because there doesn’t seem to be any railing! I’d be doing this myself if ever I visit Dominica one day. Thanks for sharing!
    Dennis recently posted..ValparaisoMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Dennis,
      Despite the challenge of the elements, it was really a fun and interesting trek. We really hope you do it when you visit Dominica,

  14. Great post, Marisol! I love hiking! This muddy trek sounds pretty challenging. I’ve hiked Inka Trail in Peru. Fighting rain and humidity was harder than fighting high altitude sickness.

    Top photo has a cool miniature look. Like it. Starfish photo is interesting. Would love to see the fruit in a “closed mode”. The jungle pics look amazing.
    memographer recently posted..Photo Trilogy: Rapa Nui – The PeopleMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Alex, thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post. I have hiked the two Inca trails (the classic and Lares Valley) but I don’t remember going through much miseries like this hike. I guess we were much more prepared gear-wise and knew what to expect in Inca Trail but not in this trek.
      Unforturnately, all the starfish fruits had already fallen to the ground and opened up and we didn’t see a closed one to photograph. I know it would have been nice to see the before and after.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jess, glad were able to transport you. I know its a different world from our city . It was really great in a real jungle than the concrete jungle. We really miss being there. We look at the photos to fell transported ourselves:)

  15. Freya

    That looks like a great hike, love the photos ! I for sure should try to go to Dominica soon cause I love hiking and this looks like the perfect destination to do so.
    Freya recently posted..The Taj Mahal, a true masterpieceMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Freya, I know you’d like it there. You’ll never run out of adventures.

  16. Another incredible hike! Thank you for taking us with you…saves me going into training to do it!! The beer at the end always celebrates that huge sense of accomplishment..well deserved in your case! Great photos as usual of the amazing sights, scenery and stops along the way
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..The Hidden Island of VisMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jenny, I hope you enjoyed the hike with us:) Yes, the beer was a great trophy. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thank you!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Lady Fi!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Thanks Sakshi, glad you enjoyed it.

  17. Such a wonderful informative post with unique photographs which are so much powerful and attract to trekking. post written well and present minute details.
    thanks for sharing your experience.
    India Travel Guide recently posted..A Trip to MysoreMy Profile

    • Traveling Solemates

      Our pleasure. Thanks for the visit.

  18. Lovely trek that was and awesom clicks. Would definitely visit some day….
    Thanks for sharing.

  19. Great read! My husband and I are heading to Dominica in a few days and love reading about your experience there!

  20. Jilly Williams

    Hi traveling solemates…. First let me thank you for coming to my beautiful Island, Dominica! As a Dominican, i take pride in my roots, my culture, my heritage, my Island!
    I really love how you guys documented your journey to the Boiling Lake and the many beautiful photos you took! Very scenic and picturesque!
    I went to the Boiling Lake as a school trip when i was about 9 or 10. I don’t really remember the exact age, but i was under 11yrs old for sure.
    It was a very very intense hike, long, wet, cold, slippery, strong smell of sulfur, exhausting….oh, and did i mention scary? I remember sometimes crawling on both legs and hands and trying not to look down many times; but once we reached the lake….oh, what a marvelous site to behold! The Boiling Lake is an amazing experience! Continue to explore my beautiful Nature Isle of the Caribbean, Dominica! There is so much more to see and do! 😉 Thanks again Marisol and Solemate!

  21. CaribbeanBeauty

    I am from the lovely,most beautiful Caribbean, nature isle, Dominica. I am currently residing in the U.S. Two of my sisters and I went to the boiling lake upon visiting a few years back. Boy oh boy..its a fantastic hike. I still do visit b/c i have family who still resides there. Oh the food; the calm,the laughter of my people is none compare. The unspoiled , my home land Dominica.

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