La Soufriere – Top of the little Caribbean
16° 02′ 38″ N 61° 39′ 48″ O
This challenging adventure takes you to the top of St. Vincent’s La Soufriere Volcano, where you will experience breath-taking views and a top-of-the-world euphoria found only at the summit of such world class hikes.
Duration: 2 hours one-way from the Rabacca trailhead.
Details: Dominating the north of the island, La Soufriere Volcano is accessible from either leeward or windward coasts. The most popular hiking route is from Rabacca on the windward coast where a paved farm track heads inland through plantations of bananas until it reaches the clearly marked trailhead. From there it is a 2 hour steady uphill climb to the crater’s edge. The hiking trail passes through rainforest, montane thicket and cloud forest before arriving at the volcanic rock and ash-strewn rim of this awesome crater.
Filling your entire field of vision, the crater is immense, with an active lava dome located at its centre. A trail continues around the crater’s edge and then down through the forest, until it reaches the village of Richmond on the leeward coast. It is also possible to go down into the crater and walk around the active dome – a rope stretches all the way down a steep trail to the crater floor, adding a further 2 hours or so to your hiking experience.
Whether you decide to go there and back, all the way across the island, or even down into the crater itself, St. Vincent’s La Soufriere Volcano is an amazing and unforgettable hike. The site opens from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
It is the largest of the 3 craters that are present at the summit of the volcano, the other 2, the Somma and the 1812 crater, both presently dormant. The eruptions have generated a series of pyroclastic flows, lahars, ballistic projectiles and ash. The ash generated by the larger eruptions is, in fact, responsible for the yellow cliffs that run along the windward coast of the island. The ‘Rabacca stuff’ used in the construction industry, is also a ‘product’ of such activities.
HISTORIC ACTIVITIES OF LA SOUFRIERE
1718 Explosive Eruption
1780 Dome building eruption
1812 Explosive eruption (more than 56 fatalities)
1880 Doom building eruption
1902-03 Explosive eruption (more than 1565 fatalities)
1971-72 Dome building eruption
1979 Explosive eruption, no fatalities
more than 14,000 evacuated.
(Source: NEMO – National Emergency Management Organisation)
Read the do’s and dont’s of La Soufriere Volcano here…