Just Back: The enchanted rainforests of Dominica


Georgina Bolam wins £200 from London’s Telegraph for her account of a breathtaking climb into the rainforests of the Caribbean island of Dominica.

I move on, continuing my gradual ascent and feeling like the only human on this earth. Off to the right, but only if you know where to look, is the trailhead that leads to the Boiling Lake. There is a long section of elfin woodland, akin to that of an enchanted forest. Within this fairy-tale realm, you would not be surprised if the birds and the trees began verbalising their thoughts, or if hobbits, elves, dwarves and orcs came out in the open, swords clattering and axes falling in a middle-earthly tussle. 

As I climb higher, a fine mist shrouds around me again and for a moment I see nothing but a veil of white. A drizzle of light rain begins to fall. Back home, I would have been standing on an icy, uncaring railway station in winter’s darkness with a forbidding wind howling along the tracks. I would hunch my shoulders, zip up my jacket and pray for the aluminium caterpillar to arrive.

The rain is different here. You can almost sense the trees and plants groaning with pleasure. Birds become animated and tree frogs begin to sing. Everything bathes in the soul of Dominica’s dark clouds.

Just as suddenly as they arrived, the mist and rain now depart with a bolstering breeze, and a window of blue opens up around me. I am at the highest point of the trail, standing above a steep procession of precarious steps.

The rain begins again. Heavy raindrops thunder into the earth, and puddles and streams appear instantly as waters converge to seek lower ground.

The noise is raucous – as if I am surrounded by a frenzy of boisterous drumming. The rain recedes and everything is saturated. We pause, the creatures and I, before we set off again.

Afternoon arrives as I once again emerge on to the paved road at the bottom. I follow it back to civilisation before the rain begins again.

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