The Seven Wonders of the Caribbean
By Derrick Ormonde
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana Kaieteur National Park is situated on the Guiana Shield, a plateau that is one of the world's oldest and remotest geological formations. The entire Kaieteur National Park area is located within one of the largest and most biodiverse rainforests in the world.
Kaieteur Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. It has a free fall height of more than 700 feet, making it about five times taller than Niagara Falls It is one of the few places in the world where endangered species are easily observed. Specially designed on-site nature walks place you face-to-face with the many and varied exotic plant and animal species. Kaieteur can be admired close-up or filmed at varying distances and from numerous camera angles; aerial views of the Falls are truly spectacular.
The Pitons, St Lucia St Lucia possesses a topography and ecology of stunning beauty, matched by no other location in the Caribbean. The island's pride in its natural resources is evident in the country's ongoing protection and conservation efforts.
In the mountainous interior lies the enormous National Rain Forest and the island's protected coastal sights include the breathtaking, unforgettable spires of Les Pitons. Located near Soufriere, these primeval twin peaks, topping 2,000 feet, are St Lucia's most famous landmark. Only the most daring climbers have attempted an ascent on their summits, but they can be seen in all their glory from Mt Gimie or from the decks of a boat offshore.
Now dormant, the Sulphur Springs is the world's only drive-in volcano. A tour of its bubbly, steamy sulphur springs offers a direct and fascinating lesson in the violent geology of the Caribbean Rim.
The Pitch Lake, Trinidad The Pitch Lake or Asphalt Lake of Trinidad and Tobago is situated in the southwest peninsula of the island of Trinidad. It has fascinated explorers, scientists and the common folk since its discovery by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595. Raleigh himself found immediate use for the asphalt to caulk his ship. Since then, there have been numerous research investigations into the use and chemical composition of this material. Above all, there have been countless theories, postulations and conclusions as to the size, source and origin of the asphalt. The Asphalt Lake is at present an oval, lake-like outcrop composed of an oil, clay and water (mud) mixture. The asphalt from the Lake is of economic value to Trinidad and Tobago. Some 10 million tons have been mined since mining started in 1867. The refined product is used in the manufacturing and road surfacing industries.
Harrison Cave, Barbados Although historical references were made to Harrison's Cave from as early as the 18th century, no serious exploration of the cave was carried out until 1970, when speleologist, Ole Sorensen, was commissioned by the Barbados National Trust to make a survey and map the cave. Sorensen immediately recognised the potential of the cave and recommended that it be landscaped and developed. Four years later, work on the cave began, drawing on scientific, artistic, technological and geological resources.
The work involved digging tunnels, improving lighting and diverting of underground streams. A unique phenomenon of nature, Harrison's Cave is an amazing gallery of stalactites hanging from the roof of the cave, and stalagmites that emerge from the ground, with streams of crystal-clear running water that drop from breathtaking waterfalls to form deep emerald pools. The stalactites and stalagmites were formed over thousands of years and in some places the stalactites have reached down to the stalagmites and a spectacular pillar has been formed.
Stingray City, Grand Cayman Located in the shallow waters of the northwest corner of Grand Cayman's North Sound, the waters are filled with "friendly" stingrays, that can be fed by hand You'll find this anomaly just inside a natural channel that passes through the barrier, it consists of a string of sand bars that cross the North Sound from Morgan Harbour to Rum Point. Local legend has it that the stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman would return from an excursion and go behind a reef into the sound and clean their fish in the calm water of the shallows and sand bar area. The fish guts were simply thrown overboard and the stingrays eventually congregated to feast on the discarded guts. Soon the stingrays began to associate the sound of a boat with a free meal. As this practice turned into a tradition, local divers realised that the stingrays could be fed by hand. There are three ways to experience these bottom-dwelling, prehistoric-looking creatures that feed primarily on molluscs and crustaceans and each involves a short boat ride to the sandbar area at the North Sound. Divers or snorkelers who dare to get into the water experience an adrenaline rush as the stingrays rub against you with their bodies and "wings".
The most popular is a snorkelling trip, which has been called the best snorkeling experience in the world. This trip normally occurs in the heart of the sandbar where the water is only three to five-feet deep.
The second way to experience Stingray City is as a scuba diver. Dive groups consist of 10 to 20 divers, wearing no fins as they may hurt the congregating stingrays. The divers are over-weighted, which keeps them on the bottom and the dive master swims from diver to diver dispersing diced squid and fish pieces. Stingrays quickly surround the divers. The third way to experience Stingray City is via a glass bottom boat, which is a good alternative if the weather is too windy for snorkeling.
Citadelle Henri Christophe Fortress, Haiti High above Haiti's once-fertile northern plains, like a stone ship jutting through the clouds, stands one of the engineering marvels of the New World, now largely abandoned to nature and the few tourists who climb the winding cobblestone track to visit the crumbling stone fortress.
The Citadelle, built by King Henri Christophe at the beginning of the 19th century to defend against invaders, atop a 3,000-foot mountain called Bonnet-a-l'Eveque, or the Bishop's Miter is the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. It is Haiti's most revered national symbol, of brilliance in its building but of cruelty in the forced labour that cost up to 20,000 lives.
Understanding the Citadelle is crucial to understanding Haiti's turbulent history as the only nation whose birth was the result of a successful slave rebellion. The fort is a symbol of the will to fight for one's freedom.
So impressive is the fortress, stretched across the mountain peak, with sheer cliffs on three sides and the only point of access subject to withering cannon fire, that the United Nations included the Citadelle in its list of cultural treasures, along with the Acropolis, the pyramids of Egypt and the temple of Borobudur in Indonesia.
While some reconstruction has been carried out, cannons and cannon balls litter the structure and parts of it are off-limits because they are in danger of tumbling down.
"The Citadelle reflects the dreams our fathers had for the country," said former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. "Their dreams of freedom and dignity. Unfortunately, it was carried out with slavery, and hopefully today we can continue their project, but without the roots of slavery."
Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica Jamaica's most famous visitor attraction is the stunning Dunn's River Falls and Beach.
Many visitors climb the waterfalls from the beach right to the top, stopping on the way to enjoy the cool plunge pools formed naturally in the river rocks and the waterfalls that are gentle in some places and positively thunder in others. When you get to the top, you will feel refreshed and invigorated.
Photographed millions of times, Dunn's River was prominently featured in the very first James Bond film, Dr No. Countless other film crews have followed that lead. Champagne underwater hot springs,Dominica
Approaching Dominica by sea, it is easy to see how Victorian writers could imagine remnant populations of dinosaurs surviving in the tropics, as described in novels like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. The island looks primeval and pristine, craggy and dense with rainforest; its rugged interior is almost uninhabited, leading to the nickname "Nature Island".
Dominica is one of the youngest islands in the volcanic Caribees and it is still being formed by volcanic activity, making it an ideal destination for the geologically minded traveller. One of the most famous sites called "Champagne" is actually within snorkelling distance. It is easy to see why it got its name: Underwater hot springs discharge carbon dioxide gas into a water column, which form bubbles, creating the illusion of a carbonated beverage or a giant Jacuzzi.
Derrick's love affair with the Caribbean has led to the development of a number of businesses and initiatives dedicated to celebrating the region. A former publisher of Caribbean travel and lifestyle bookazines Derrick has attracted impressive commercial support from many top international travel and lifestyle brands.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.