Blue Mountains Hiking Tours – The eastern side of the lush green island of Jamaica is dominated by the Blue Mountains and John Crow National Park. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015 due to its unique and diverse flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to Jamaica. Magnificently underdeveloped, this mountain paradise is best explored on foot. Hiking the Blue Mountains is one of the most rewarding experiences in Jamaica.
The peak of Blue Mountain sits at a majestic 2,256 m (7,402 ft), and is made even more dramatic by the fact that you can see the sea from the top (and from several points on the hike there). This elevation has a dramatic effect on the climate, which is often several degrees cooler and much wetter than at sea level. It is possible to leave Kingston or the coast in shorts and require a coat, hat and umbrella long before reaching the summit. Regardless of fitness levels, there is something for everyone in the Blue Mountains, and indeed everyone should take the time to visit this area of outstanding natural beauty. It is possible to drive or take a pre-booked taxi for all the walks mentioned here.
Blue Mountains Hiking Tours
The most relaxing way to experience the Blue Mountains is to drive to Holywell National Park. Located just an hour from Kingston at Hardware Gap at the top of the Blue Mountain, Holywell is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend the day. There is a solar-powered visitor center; picnic areas with campfires and shelters; bathrooms; campsites; and well-marked paths. The park is maintained by friendly rangers who are happy to talk about the park and are full of useful and interesting information.
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The hikes are all easy and, depending on how many stops are made, should only take 30-45 minutes each. The paths are marked by informative signs detailing the local flora and fauna. The viewpoints are dotted with wooden platforms ideal for taking that perfect photo – there are incredible sunrises and sunsets that anyone can see at the right time of day.
Park in one of the two designated parking lots and follow the wooden signs to the trails. No map is necessary, as each trail eventually leads back to the starting point. The gradients can be steep at times, but there are magical moments to duck under the tropical canopies that hang over the trails or stop to photograph hummingbirds. Leave the picnic in the car to enjoy at one of the designated spots after the hike. The views from the picnic spots are worth the trip alone.
Catherine Peak is famous in Jamaica as the site of a mountain spring that supplies much of Jamaica’s natural bottled water. The trailhead is at the Jamaica Defense Force Camp in Newcastle, on the Holywell Road and only a 45 minute drive from Kingston.
The road goes through the middle of the camp so it is not difficult to find it. Park your car on the other side of the food court in the designated spot. Then walk back to the other side of the parade ground, keep left and follow the tarmac path to the army camp. Tell the lone soldier at the guard post that you want to hike to Catherine’s Peak and that he must comply, writing down the details and handing over a permit.
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Go past the single bar barrier to the left and follow the track, up and up. It takes about 45 minutes each way and gets very steep towards the top. There’s only one wrong way to go: on the Clifton Mount coffee farm, a mistake that will soon become apparent.
The peak is marked by radio masts and a triangulation point installed by the original surveyors. If the weather is good, the views are spectacular. The descent is again along the same path. After the walk, it’s worth driving the extra 15 minutes to Holywell or stopping at one of the cafes (Eits or Cafe Blue) on the way back to Kingston.
The hike to the top of the Blue Mountain should be on your Jamaican to-do list. The path is well marked and not too steep, but it is a long walk and unfit people may struggle. The most popular way to walk to the peak is to spend the night near Penlyne Castle at Jah B’s or Whitfield Hall, and start early in the morning in the hope of reaching the peak at sunrise.
The walk from Whitfield Hall to the peak is about 10 km (six miles) and involves a gain of 1,000 m (3,000 ft). Done at a brisk pace, the summit can be reached in about two and a half hours, although a leisurely walk with frequent stops for photos and food can take twice as long. A round trip of five to eight hours is normal.
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Many people choose to use a guide, especially if it is in the dark and for the first time; however, it is perfectly possible to hike to the peak without a guide. Warm, waterproof coats are essential, as are water and food. On the hike, the trail passes Portland Gap, where there is a ranger station (the ranger will collect the park fee when you pass). This is the last place on the route to fill water bottles. It is also possible to spend the night here, but be prepared to get wet – it rains every day in the mountains.
As the trail climbs into the mountains, it’s fascinating to see the change in vegetation – the Elven Forest near the peak is a magical place. One last word: Ignore the people who tell you that you can see Cuba from the summit; you will be lucky to have a cloudless day.
One of Australia’s true natural gems; the Blue Mountains is a must-see on any visit down there. Located an hour and a half west of Sydney, the region is accessible by car or train so all travelers can make the trip. Be amazed by the numerous walks and hikes throughout the region, which offer stunning valley views and spectacular scenery. Hike or ride up Blue Mountain to the Wentworth Falls Track and Prince Henry Cliff Walk, accessed from beautiful Echo Point. Pack a picnic for your trip west or venture into the wonderful historic town of Katoomba to try some of the many delicious restaurants and cafes available. Finish your Blue Mountain day trip by visiting the exciting Scenic World, which will thrill even the most seasoned adventurer with its glass-floored skies and horse-drawn carriages.
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The most iconic image of the Blue Mountains is undeniably The Three Sisters, and this is the most popular choice for a blue mountain tour. The rock formation is accessible via the Echo Point Lookout and is a sight to behold, overlooking the stunning Jamison Valley. Be sure to visit the Three Sisters on your trip to the desert, immersing yourself in its rich Aboriginal heritage, the place being a proud place for the Gundungurra and Darug people. For the adventurous, the place is the ideal place to start the numerous walks in the adjacent forest and nature experiences spread across the mountain range. Connected to Echo Point is the spectacular Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which really allows you to embrace the wonder of the Blue Mountains and embodies all the beauty of the Australian bush in one idyllic walk.
Nestled in the heart of the Blue Mountains lies the wonderfully charming village of Wentworth Falls. Whether you’re taking a day trip to the Blue Mountains or looking to take an extended trip filled with fresh air and wonderful sights, Wentworth Falls packs everything you need into one delicious package. The town is famous for the waterfall itself, which reaches an impressive 187 meters high, and is one of the most impressive sights in all of the Blue Mountains. The waterfall is accessed via the Wentworth Falls Trail, which takes about an hour to complete. Be careful along the way as some hidden cliffs lurk along the walk as well as lots of stairs! Along the walk there are numerous panoramic views of the expansive Blue Cloud Range, so be sure to bring your own