Barbados – A Hiking Vacation on the Island

It’s vacation planning time again, and you know for sure that you want to spend it quite differently than in the past. A different vacation because perhaps, the year so far has been a trying and stressful one with all the talk of job cut backs, economic uncertainty, and now even swine flu. Why not just simply take a hike, a hiking vacation that is, and on the peaceful tropical Caribbean island of Barbados. Get back to nature, interact with friendly folks, refresh yourself with, scenic walks, fresh air, and the soothing sounds of the waves against the fine sandy beach.

A Barbados hiking vacation takes you on a journey revealing the uniqueness of Barbados and Barbadians, by way of four scenic, revealing, and positively memorable hikes. The hikes and their accompanying stories highlight how Barbados came into existence, seemingly out of nothing from 1627, when the British settled and transformed a jungle that others rejected, to the jewel it is today. Even the island’s geological formation is a unique story of something “out of nothing”. Many visitors to the island look forward to meeting local village personalities, and learning about outstanding Barbadians of bygone days.

Hiking on a brown sugar coloured crunchy sandy east coast beach, one can explore the sandy shoreline, and may discover “sea coconuts”, “lucky seeds”, a washed up Portuguese Man of War, just to mention a few likely findings. Venturing inland, there are different walking surfaces, namely grassy uphill footpaths, and rugged sandy clay trails. One continues to climb to a height of 167m (547 feet), to reach the very breezy lookout point, that offers a wide sweeping panoramic view of fifteen per cent of the island.

Descending from this lookout point along more rugged footpaths, which give way to paved roads one enters a typical Barbadian village. A village of timber chattel houses, concrete houses, at least five small churches, in this small community, and of course not forgetting the rum shops, surprisingly only two serve this village. Visit a village resident who is an accomplished potter and is a descendant of potters going back 200 years.

These hills of the Scotland District, are a fusion of sand stone, clays, and alluvial muds. This part of the island actually looks like another country, compared to the other eighty five per cent of the land mass. In fact geologists refer to this Scotland District as Ancestral Barbados, and it is really the material of another country, that is three hundred miles south of Barbados. Out of this, apparently inconsequential material, Barbados was formed, rising like a sphinx out of the Atlantic Ocean, just two million years ago.

Learn about Manjak, its various uses as you visit what is left of this mine. Manjak is a type of hydrocarbon that was utilized as a fuel in the furnaces of the local trains, it was also exported to be used as a main ingredient in the manufacture of black paint, as well as in the production of the the earliest, but brittle, 33 1/3 vinyl music records.

On a Barbados hiking vacation one may visit a national park, the location of the ruins of a historic Great House, and by way of cart roads a wild life reserve. An outstanding, highlight, is a heritage site, a 355 year old Jacobian styled plantation great house, chock full of history, stories of greed and murder to name but a few. It’s a functioning sugar plantation, with a fully refurbished and working 19th century steam mill used for extracting sugar cane juice. Just last year 2008 this old plantation won an international award for its very fine rum, it’s outstanding stories continue.

In this area there are cozy country villages, a very scenic lookout point that offers a majestic view of the Scotland District. a two hundred year old sugar wind mill, which operates during the local sugar harvest season, effectively demonstrating how sugar cane juice was extracted using wind power. There is also an interesting goat farmer, who is a popular newspaper columnist, and a musician in a local music band, outstanding personality in his own right.

There are down hill trails for those who do not want to engage up hill terrain, as well as trails that are flat coastal, rugged and scenic. Barbados offers trails leading between sugar cane fields, and into gullies (also known as ravines) with rock formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flow stone.

A hiking vacation on tropical Barbados, is rewarding in so many ways, healthy fresh air, and exercise, with vitamin D from the sunshine, a welcomed relaxing change of pace, as you discover a new land and it’s people. Being out in the natural environment, is relaxing, and has proven to be therapeutic for spirit soul and body. A healthy and rejuvenating way to spend a vacation.

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