UPDATE: MAY 30, 2012.
Dominica’s Rainforest Aerial Tram has ceased operations. This is a very sad day for the tourism industry in Dominica. I wish all the staff the best of luck and thank them for providing an excellent tourism product. For further information, consult:
On a cool and drizzly Sunday afternoon, I accepted a friend’s invitation to join her and members of the Dominican Welfare and Hospital Aid Scheme on an outing to Laudat in Dominica’s interior . In this lush location, we took a tour on the Rainforest Aerial Tram. (http://www.rainforestadventure.com/)
I had not been back to take another Tram tour since it first opened in 2003! I wasn’t really sure what to expect after all those years. When we arrived, we had to wait for some time, as a number of groups from a cruise ship were preparing to board the gondolas which could each only hold 8 guests and a guide. In the mean time, there was delectable Dominican coffee to drink, sheltered picnic tables upon which to sit and spectacular scenery to admire at the ‘ground level’.
After about half an hour, we were asked to assemble in an orderly fashion and we quickly boarded several of the 22 gondolas in preparation for our above-ground tour. Our ascent would begin at about 2,000 feet above sea level. We would climb to 2,500 feet (the upper limit of the rainforest) where we would disembark for a brief walking tour. Then we would descend on another cable line that would keep us above the tree-tops for most of the return journey.
Our friendly guide, Craig Johnson incessantly plied us with piles of fascinating facts about the flora, fauna, geology and history of Dominica for more than one hour. My only regret is that I was not carrying a notebook .There was so much to remember!
Craig told us about the four levels of the rainforest and its abundant foliage. There seemed to be endless plants, trees, flowers and birds thriving in this moist and fertile terrain. He especially amazed us with his in-depth knowledge of plants and their scientific names, as well as their English and Creole versions. I was further impressed with his understanding of the medicinal and traditional uses of a number of plants. It seemed that a remedy for almost every ailment can be found in the rainforest. We saw plants that could alleviate migraines, reduce hypertension, soothe sores and enhance sexual vitality, among other things. We all agreed that nature’s pharmacy is obviously found on the Nature Isle.
The plaintive calls of thrushes and the melodious trills of the elusive mountain whistler accompanied us as we slowly moved along while admiring all of the stunning sights. “Rider,” a bold little Bullfinch hopped on board for part of our excursion as he searched hopefully for a crumb or two. We were certainly completely immersed in our rainforest experience!
While we oooed and aaahed at this ‘heaven on earth’, Craig reminded us that there are frighteningly few rainforests and that they only cover about 6 % of the entire planet. These precious portions of land are too vital to our survival to ever be destroyed again.
As an avid hiker, I also paid strict attention to which plants could provide food and water in case I were ever lost in Dominica’s dense jungle.
But next time, I’ll be sure to bring that notebook!