Guadeloupe has a pretty cool botanical gardens and zoo park. It is not a big place but it is one of the most unique places we have visited. The park is situated on the side of a mountain in the greenest part of the island, which means it rains a lot in the park. We were lucky and arrived on a perfectly clear day.
Besides plaques for the animals they also labeled most of the plants. The plants are mostly native to the island and the island is full of flowers. Quite often as we have traveled Gwada, we wondered what sort of plant is this, or what sort of plant is that. Now we know. It never ceases to amaze me how lush the vegetation can be on these islands. It seems a little weird to see plants we struggled to keep alive as house plants growing in the wild. Not only are they growing in the wild, they are massive. I had a plant in my office that I managed to keep alive for about 5 years before it croaked. At its peak it was about 4 feet tall. Here, the same plant is 30 feet tall with leaves about a foot wide.
The park is a self guided walking tour and consists of a maze of raised decked paths. This keeps people at least 3 feet above ground level at all times. As a visitor roams about they are treated to a mix of botany and zoology. The animal cages are large allowing the animals to roam a terrain that is probably quite similar to their natural habit. We noticed a lot of birds. Perhaps the most birds we have seen on Gwada. Then, as we watch the birds closely, we realized why. The local area birds, the free birds, were sneaking through the large sized wire and netting of the caged animals and stealing their food. I wonder if the zoo knows they are feeding thousands of wild birds.
This is not a typical zoo. They do not have lions, tigers, gorillas and giraffes. It is more of a boutique zoo featuring animals common to the islands and South America. The divas of the zoo were a back Puma and a leopard. Other than this, enclosures housed mongooses, raccoons, turtles etc. We were so happy the signage was in both English and French. Too many times we have visited an attraction only to find we could not understand what it was about. Out comes the translator and away goes the fun. Kudos to the zoo for this!
If I were to look at the pictures posted here for the first time, I would think two things: Bugs and humidity. Well, there is no escaping the heat and humidity, although technically speaking it is still spring and as the locals say, “The hot is coming, real soon”. The cool breeze on this day really helped. As for the bugs, neither one of us has put on bug spray since we got to Martinique. When we were in Dominica it was so dang windy any airborne mosquito was probably blown to Mexico. But, here we are in this park with plants and water everywhere and no mosquitoes. Go figure! And mind you, we are not complaining.
The highlight of the park for me was an optional area where a side trail took me into the tree tops. Cindy preferred to stay on the ground. The views were fantastic and it really gave me the sense of what it would be like to be a monkey living in the forest canopy. The walkways are suspended from the area trees. There are small bases in the trees where I could pause and take in the view. Between the trees the suspended catwalks move with every step taken. It took a little getting used to. The entire walk about the tree tops took about 30 minutes. I am glad I didn’t do this on a windy day. Each segment of the catwalk is limited to two people at a time and is one way (the walks made a giant circle). People were very good at obeying this rule. I guess they figured if they broke the rule the result could be death; a good incentive to behave oneself.