There is a lake in Dominica where you could make a soup for giants, for it looks like a pot and it’s full of boiling water!
Boiling Lake is the second largest hot spring in the world. Some Dominicans say, it is actually the largest, as the one that currently holds the record, Frying Pan Lake in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in New Zealand, is merely steaming, not really boiling. We will have to go to New Zealand and confirm this. But until then, let’s see if the one in Dominica is really boiling!
We take the bus to the capital Roseau and from there the bus to another village, Loda, near the trailhead. At the last stop we are greeted by locals who offer to be our guides. We refuse. Guides to Boiling Lake charge 100 US$ per person but are not obligatory. We enter the rainforest without a guide and the 3-hour 8-mile journey in one direction begins.
In the beginning the trail is very easy, like always, gently leading us up, on steps made of wood among beautiful rainforest. But after that crazy hike up Morne Diablotin, which started all right too, we are a bit skeptical.
We reach a small river after about an hour and from there the hike gests more difficult, with some physically challenging moments, but nothing to be afraid of. The trail all the way to Boiling Lake is one of the best straightforward trails we have hiked so far, with lots and lots of convenient steps of wood or stone, a succession of sections going up and down, instead of a constant uphill hike, and just two or three a bit more difficult rock-scrambles.
On the way, we even meet a woman in her late 70-s with her granddaughter and a guide on the trail to the lake, even though she didn’t make the final couple of miles.
The temperature gets cooler as we get higher, and Maya puts on her rain poncho, against drizzle and cold. But as soon as we reach the Valley of Desolation it gets hot again.
The Valley of desolation… If I was a mean little troll I would live here, among the bubbling boiling smelly sulphur-water pots letting out vapors and gases. I would hide near the small spraying and hissing geysers, in cracks and holes. The small stream that runs through and beneath the ground would be my enchanted river.
The Valley of Desolation is a volcanic area with hot, steamy and moist air which smells sharply of sulphur. It is also one of the most mysterious and beautiful places I have ever seen, smelled and gone through, with hot-water streams: some milky-white, others grey like led, others inexplicably black, creating stunning abstract patterns of colors and shapes.
The entire landscape in the valley is in fact barren and desolate, hellish, devoid of life. Not many plants grow here due to the poisonous volcanic gases constantly escaping the earth’s crust.
After spending some time in the Valley of Desolation, we continue a few more minutes, across a hot-water milky-colored river with a small waterfall and a hot-water pond, to reach the Boiling Lake, steaming in the distance.
Almost continuously enveloped in clouds of vapor, its greyish water forever bubbling, its temperature along the edges is 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit or about 90 degrees Celsius, and its boiling center is too hot to measure.
Dominica’s Boiling Lake, about 200-250 feet in diameter located at the bottom of a large sinkhole-like basin is in fact a flooded fumarole: a crack in the Earth’s crust near a volcano, which emits steam, gases and heat escaping from the molten lava below.
High steep rock walls create the lake’s basin. Its cliff-top ledge is about 100 feet directly above its shore. You wouldn’t want to slip here and fall in the pot…
The landscape around the lake is similarly barren and melancholic as the one in the Valley of Desolation. Perpetual mist, dead plants and low grasses, wet rocks covered with orange moss.
We eat our sandwiches on top of the cliff, the lake boiling below us, before we start heading back, feeling enchanted.
We look at the heavy green mountains around us when the clouds permit us to see, and we are speechless with awe. Nature keeps amazing us again and again
The long but not difficult trail to the lake, across the Valley of Desolation, leading us to the Boiling Lake itself became our favorite journey while visiting Dominica.